Category Archives for "Language Learning Tools"
A few weeks ago I wrote about looking up how to say lime and lemon in Spanish. While I didn’t find a straightforward answer, I did find a helpful post on a blog that explained that it has to do both with word usage and regional varieties of actual fruit. I also found a comment on that blog, which explores Latino topics from a gringa perspective, asserting that they were appropriating culture instead of appreciating it. I definitely don’t have the answer to the question of when cultural exchange is the former and when it’s the latter, but I do know that it is important to regularly and genuinely consider your own perspective and motivation and do your best to appreciate other cultures as valid and important.
I also think it is important to follow up on things, in life and in the Spanish acquisition process. When you follow up in Spanish on things you’e encountered or learned, you reinforce them in your brain. In reality, it takes multiple interactions with something to really learn and remember it. In learning you have to make time for review and reinforcement. Ideally, the things you’re learning will come up in your everyday life and provide a chance for review that way.
Last Friday, my husband and I went to a little beer garden right outside of town. It’s fairly new and we’ve driven past it many times but have never gone. It’s behind a gas station and we were at least a little skeptical of what it could have to offer. What finally convinced us to go was that one of my husband’s supervising doctors from his last rotation (he’s a 3rd year medical student) is in a band named “More y Mas” and they were playing there. I was excited to see them for a few reasons: they were playing at a venue behind a gas station – sure to be interesting; at least one of the members is a doctor by day – doctor/musician=awesome; and their bilingual name. We enjoyed an evening of sitting outside, drinking good beer, and listening to music. One of the songs, “Rosa Maria”, was very catchy and got stuck in our heads.
We caught some of the words while we were listening in person (me a few more than my less-español-inclined-but-still-wonderful esposo) and then looked them up the next day at home and listened to it a few times. I love the infectious beat and the fact that it makes you want to dance. The lyrics are fairly simple and repetitive, which makes it absolutely great for someone trying to acquire and practice Spanish.
A couple months ago, some of our friends did something called Whole 30. It’s an eating program that helps you break bad habits and cravings, and identifies any food sensitivities that might be causing you digestive issues. It emphasizes eating foods with few ingredients and nothing processed, so that means a lot of meat, veggies, fruit, and nuts. They said it was great so we’ve been thinking about doing it for a while. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables anyway, so that part wouldn’t be hard, but no chocolate or baked goods (no sugar allowed!) would be tough.
We haven’t quite gotten started but have looked into it and are planning to make it happen soon. There are tons of materials out there about the program, including a version of the four page introduction in Spanish. I was excited to see this because it means that the Whole 30 people are inclusive and want to reach a wide audience, and also because it meant I got to practice my Spanish. I read through it and enjoyed understanding familiar content along with encountering some new words and phrases.
We moved into our new apartment about 2 months ago and have finally gotten everything unpacked and settled. In the process of all that, I was going through a couple bags of junk drawer-type stuff and found a set of refrigerator magnets that a friend gave me several years ago when we lived together. They have English words on one side and the Spanish equivalent on the other side. On this particular day, these magnets struck my fancy and I decided to put some on our fridge.
I’ve had these magnets for a while, through several moves, but haven’t always put them up. I think an important part of the learning process is giving yourself the flexibility to use different methods at different times and to not use certain methods at certain times. There is definitely a place for discipline in language acquisition, but I also think it is important to listen to your mind and give it what it wants. If you’re forcing yourself to do an activity, you’re probably not going to be very engaged with it and therefore probably won’t learn very well from it. I could have forced myself to arrange a new magnet sentence every day but it would have been a chore, something my brain responded to negatively instead of positively. But this time I was delighted to rediscover this simple but fun learning tool and will therefore benefit from using it again