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Living in Spanish

Authored By: 
Daniel Shabasson, Spanish Teacher

Learning Spanish, or any foreign language, is great for many reasons. It develops the language center of your brain, which helps you speak, read, and write better in your own language. It teaches grammar. Studies show learning a foreign language can protect against mental deterioration as we age.  Some say that learning the melodious sounds and rhythms of another language develop your ear for music.  The benefits are many.

Learning a language is within anyone’s grasp, but it takes patience and determination. Beekman´s high school Spanish curriculum is designed to give students the knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and culture that they need to become proficient in Spanish.  Nevertheless, those of us teaching Spanish in high school can encourage our students to practice in their daily lives by implementing the following strategies both inside and outside the classroom:

  1. Begin to speak the language as soon as possible. Don’t worry about making mistakes. You aren’t expected to speak it perfectly yet.
  2. Integrate the language into your everyday life. Use Facebook in Spanish. Watch television shows from Spain and Latin America. Listen to rock music en Español. While going about your normal daily routine and you say something in English, stop and ask yourself: “I wonder how you would say that in Spanish?”  Take a guess, and then look it up later. It’s a fun game. Go to a Mexican restaurant and read the menu in Spanish and order in Spanish.
  3. Read in Spanish. Go on line and spend ten minutes every day reading about a topic you love. If you like sports, Google your favorite athlete and read a story about him or her in Spanish, or read his or her Wikipedia page in Spanish. You´ll get the gist easily, given the tremendous number of words in Spanish that sound like English, and you´ll be naturally motivated because of your interest in the topic.
  4. Look up Spanish words when you read or when you hear them in a song. Write them down and look at them three of four times during the day. Keep a running list of your vocabulary. You can easily learn six new words a day. That´s over 2000 words in just one year!

Turn these into Spanish activities for your high school students by hosting an ongoing discussion about what they have learned out there, living in Spanish.