Learning Strategies

– Word Association

In word association, students make connections between words. For example, a student may remember “rojo” as “red” because both words begin with “R.” The association does not have to be completely accurate or based in fact to be an effective learning strategy.

– Total Physical Response

In TPR, students connect vocabulary with physical actions or things. For example, students may remember “brazo” (arm) by touching their arm and saying “brazo.” Students may also like to walk while saying “camino,” run while saying “corro,” and jump while saying “salto.” This is an extremely effective learning strategy. Memories connected to actions are much stronger than memories connected to seeing or hearing a word alone.

– Word Analysis

Word analysis involves taking a word, breaking it into pieces, and analyzing the significance of those pieces. For example, if we break apart “amigas” we can pull out an “s” from the end, which indicates that the word is plural. We also see that there is an “a” before the “s,” indicating that we have a group of all females.

– Repetition

In repetition, students simply repeat the word(s) that they are trying to remember. For example, if they consistently mess up the pronunciation of the word “naríz” (nose), and say “naro” instead, they can repeat the word “nariz” over and over until they correct the mistake.

– Language Comparison

Sometimes words come from the same root, but have changed over time. For example, the word for moon in Spanish is “luna.” We do not call the moon a “lune,” but when referencing all things about the moon, we call them “lunar.” Making connections like these can help students remember vocabulary better, as well as help them understand why and how the words came to be.

– Visualization

In visualization, students visualize the word which they are trying to learn, or use pictures to help them. Flashcards are excellent resources when the word in the target language appears on one side, and a picture appears on the other. Many people have visual memories, and the connection between the word and the object itself will yield a stronger connection and memory of that word as well as its meaning.

– Cognates

Cognates are words that are similar in both languages. For example “elephant” and “elefante” are cognates. In Spanish there are many cognates which can help students learn vocabulary with greater ease. Students simply need to look at words to determine if they are very similar to words in English (celebrate; celebrar). * However, sometimes false cognates exist, such as “embarrassed” and “embarazada,” which means “pregnant.”

– Dictionary Use

When all else fails, use a dictionary! When you don’t know a word, sometimes it’s helpful to use circumlocution to describe that which you want to discuss. However, at some point, the words you don’t know must be learned. English-Spanish dictionaries are available at nearly all bookstores. WordReference.com is an online resource that provides multiple entires to provide consistency, accuracy, and diversity.