Sunday, February 20, 2011

Regular -Ar Verb Conjugations

When you're starting to learn basic verb structures and conjugations, start with easy verbs that follow a pattern, instead of trying to force feed yourself irregular verbs right away, as that will only serve to discourage you.

The best thing to do is start by mastering the regular -ar verbs. These follow a specific pattern, so the best thing to do is learn the pattern.

Subject Pronoun
Regular -AR Verb Ending
él, ella, Ud.
ellos, ellas, Uds.

So check out these following sentences with the different subject pronouns:

Yo hablo español. I speak Spanish.

Tú masticas chicle. You chew gum.

Melissa toma un refresco. Melissa drinks a soft drink.

Nosotros llamamos a nuestra abuela. We call our grandmother.

Vosotros miráis la tele. You (plural) are watching T.V.

Los amigos platican. The friends chat.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's the best way gain fluency in a foreign language?

1) Spend the time!

By far the most important factor is how much time you are immersed in the language. The more time you spend with the language, the faster you will learn. This means listening, reading, writing, speaking, and studying words and phrases. This does not mean sitting in class looking out the window, nor listening to other students who do not speak well, nor getting explanations in your own language about how the language works. This means spending time enjoyably connected to the language you are learning.

2) Listen and read every day!

Listen wherever you are on your MP3 player. Read what you are listening to. Listen to and read things that you like, things that you can mostly understand, or even partly understand. If you keep listening and reading you will get used to the language. One hour of listening or reading is more effective than many hours of class time.

3) Focus on words and phrases!

Build up your vocabulary, you’ll need lots. Start to notice words and how they come together as phrases. Learn these words and phrases through your listening and reading. Read online, using online dictionaries, and make your own vocabulary lists for review. Soon you will run into your new words and phrases elsewhere. Gradually you will be able to use them. Do not worry about how accurately you speak until you have accumulated a plenty of words through listening and reading.

4) Take responsibility for your own learning!

If you do not want to learn the language, you won’t. If you do want to learn the language, take control. Choose content of interest, that you want to listen to and read. Seek out the words and phrases that you need to understand your listening and reading. Do not wait for someone else to show you the language, nor to tell you what to do. Discover the language by yourself, like a child growing up. Talk when you feel like it. Write when you feel like it. A teacher cannot teach you to become fluent, but you can learn to become fluent if you want to.

5) Relax and enjoy yourself!

Do not worry about what you cannot remember, or cannot yet understand, or cannot yet say. It does not matter. You are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer in your brain, but this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So sit back and enjoy. Just make sure you spend enough time with the language. That is the greatest guarantee of success.

Steve Kaufmann is a former Canadian diplomat, who has had his own company in the international trade of forest products for over 20 years. Steve founded The Linguist Institute Ltd. in 2002 to develop a new approach to language learning using the web. The new LingQ system for learning multiple languages is now available in Beta. Steve speaks nine languages fluently and is currently learning Russian using LingQ. Steve maintains a blog on language learning.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Some Interesting Facts about Gender Ambiguity of Nouns

Thanks to About.Com for providing this great article on the masculine/feminine ambiguities of articles in Spanish!

Some Nouns Are of Ambiguous Gender
By Gerald Erichsen, Guide

la libido(the libido) — Some authorities say that libido and mano (hand) are the only Spanish nouns ending in -o, other than shortened forms of longer words (such as foto for fotografía and disco for discoteca, or occupational words, such as la piloto for a female pilot), that are feminine. However, the word is often treated as masculine.

el/la Internet(the Internet) — The general rule is that nouns imported from other languages are masculine unless there's a reason for making them feminine. In this case, the feminine is often used because the word for a computer network (la red) is feminine.

el/la web(the web page, web site, World Wide Web) — This word may have entered the language as a shorter form of la página web (web page), or it may be feminine because red (another word for the Web) is feminine.

el/la sartén(the frying pan) — The word is masculine in Spain, feminine in much of Latin America.

el/la radio(the radio) — When it means "radius" or "radium," radio is invariably masculine. When it means "radio," it is feminine in some areas (such as Spain), masculine in others (such as Mexico).

el mar(the sea) - Mar is usually masculine, but it becomes feminine in some weather and nautical usages (such as en la alta mar, on the high seas).

el arte(the art) - The masculine is used when arte is singular, but the feminine is often used in the plural, as in las artes bellas (fine arts).

Great article, huh? What a life I lead...Joel B.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Reflexive Pronouns - A Homework Series

Pues estudiantes, ¿listos para unos ejercicios? Give the activity below a shot:

1. A las 7 de la mañana, yo _______ (despertarse).
2. Luego, _______ (levantarse) y voy a la cocina.
3. Yo ______ (prender) el coffee maker, y _______ (llenar) la jara con agua cálida.
4. Después, voy al baño y _______ (cepillarse) los dientes.
5. _______ (ducharse) con champú y jabón.
6. _______ (secarse) con una toalla.
7. Luego, ________ (peinarse) el cabello.
8. _______ (ponerse) la ropa, _______ (ponerse) los zapatos, y ______ (atarse) los cordones.
9. Agarro unas meriendas de pocas calorias porque necesito _______ (mantenerse) en forma.
10. _______ (irse) para la oficina a las 8:15 de la mañana. ¡Uf!

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