The Art and Aggravation of Spanish Past Tense Conjugation: Make It Personal

As I’ve mentioned before, I got the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Argentina for a summer during college. It was an amazing experience for so many reasons, including, of course, my Spanish acquisition journey. Not only did I learn and improve immensely while there, talking about my experience afterwards has also given me numerous chances to practice Spanish past tense conjugation in the context of my everyday life.

cordoba de bicentenario

A whimsical and larger than life piece I saw in Córdoba that celebrates the nation’s bicentennial.
Photo courtesy of the writer


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Overcoming the Fear of Learning Spanish: Making Real Progress Takes Time and Effort

Fear is normal when starting something unfamiliar, like a new school or a new job, and language acquisition is no exception. Fear of learning Spanish can hold people back from ever getting started, and even when you’ve decided to start, it can hold you back from really trying and making progress. As much as you might want the fear just to go away, it is part of how our brains are wired. In My Stroke of Insight, the author Jill Bolte Taylor says: “When incoming stimulation is perceived as familiar, the amygdala is calm and the adjacently positioned hippocampus is capable of learning and memorizing new information. However, as soon as the amygdala is triggered by an unfamiliar or perhaps threatening stimulation, it raises the brain’s level of anxiety and focuses the mind’s attention on the immediate situation. Under these circumstances, our attention is shifted away from the hippocampus and focused toward self-preserving behavior about the present moment.”

thinking feeling


Our emotions are very powerful and have a lot of influence over us. Though we might not be able to control how we feel in a new situation completely, being prepared for how we will feel can help. When you start learning Spanish, or start a new Spanish class or anything like that, you will most likely feel nervous, which can get in the way of you acquiring the language. A good thing to remember is that being nervous at first is just part of the process; after a few times you’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable and thus be more able to absorb the language. While language acquisition does take time and effort, it is worth it. A whole world it opened up in which you get to connect with other people and cultures, and you get to meet whatever personal goals you have for your Spanish skills.

If you can find ways to make yourself comfortable, like going to a class with a friend, you can lessen those negative emotions and thus increase your brain’s ability to learn. The more you can practice Spanish in a comfortable environment, the better prepared you’ll be to use it in real life. Find content that you’re familiar with, like a favorite movie, TV show, or book, and interact with it in Spanish. Maybe there is a Spanish version already available, or maybe you do the translation yourself, which is great practice anyway!

Interacting with Spanish in your home, on your own time is a great way to get comfortable and build up to real world application. With Pars Omni Spanish Voices software, you can listen to and customize authentic, native spoken Spanish from the comfort of your computer. This low stakes, controlled environment is a great way to work out your nerves and make real progress in Spanish fluency.

Download Spanish Voices for free today and experience the benefits of learning Spanish in a familiar and accessible environment. You may be nervous at first, but once you see yourself making real progress in speaking and understanding Spanish, I bet you’ll be itching to get out there and use Spanish in your everyday life.

The Benefits of Connecting with People in Spanish Acquisition: You’re Not Alone!

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently started taking a dance class after several years of not dancing. I was intimidated by the other people in the class because they clearly dance a lot and are at a very high level. At first it was hard to focus on enjoying the experience because I was worried what the other people would think of my rusty technique. However, once I realized that not only did no one else care what I was doing, but I also wasn’t there for their approval, I was able to let all that go. This was very freeing, and helped me get much more out of the class.

While being around other people who are working on what I am working on can be intimidating, it also drives me to try harder and perform at a higher level than I would by myself. Their excellence motivates me to rise to their level, to do my best – whatever that is at that time – and to keep improving more and more each time. This concept doesn’t only apply to dance. I’ve also found that I enjoy practicing yoga with others more than on my own (with the occasional home practice mixed in). I also enjoy practicing and using my Spanish language abilities with other people more than working on my own.

actively experience


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How to Keep Your Focus in Spanish: Integrating Content That is Meaningful to You

I love when different parts of my life overlap and intersect. For example, this blog! I get to do something I love – write – about other things I love – language, Spanish, language acquisition, etc. Another example of this is when my friend gave me a Spanish Bible. Connecting the stories in the Bible to the language I was (and always will be) learning was really cool.

spanish bible

A wonderful and meaningful gift from a wonderful friend.
Photo courtesy of the writer

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From English to Spanish: Code-Switching and Language Acquisition

I recently read a blog post about motherhood in Chile. It talked about a one-year-old girl being bilingual in English and Spanish and sometimes switching between the languages. I like this blog because it touches on a variety of subjects, including a series on motherhood around the world. Obviously, language would be an important part of raising children in a different country if the language spoken there was not your native tongue. This mom has seen this firsthand. While you may think that a child mixing up the two languages they are learning is a bad thing or will negatively affect them, research has shown that’s simply not true. Bilingualism and multilingualism are good for you, whether you are a child or an adult, and switching back and forth (known as “code-switching”) is a natural part of the process.

Reading about this child code-switching made me curious to brush up on the idea. In the process I found this video that brilliantly depicts how we code-switch in our everyday lives, even within our native language.

We all make assumptions based on our environment and act accordingly, but we might not always be as good at interpreting things as we think we are.

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