They’re going to ban the ‘van’! Spanish for Beginners

So imagine this scenario

There’s a big VAN and it’s parked in your street right outside your front door!

No one knows whose it is.

It’s been there now for 3 weeks and no one in sight.

Right outside your front door, the cheek of it!

1978_ford_transit_van2c_ice_cream_van_conversion_282240713089529

You come home from work, hungry, stressed, tired, and the last thing you need is to have to drive around looking for a parking space at that time of night, in the rain.

You have no option but report this to the police…and they tell you that :

‘THEY’RE GOING TO …BAN…the ‘VAN‘ from parking in front of your door.

                                         VAN (Pronounced almost BAN with a softer ‘b’ sound)

Listen to the audio and repeat in the space provided.

 VAN

To express the negative i.e., THEY’RE NOT GOING TO… simply add a NO.

NO VAN…

Then to make a question ARE THEY GOING…? is simply formed by using a questioning tone…

VAN….?

Here we are looking at the verb IR (TO GO) and the last form (in grammatical terms = 3rd Person, plural) is to say THEY GO ….or THEY’RE GOING. 

NOTE ON PRONOUNCIATION:

The anecdotal story above is a technique to try and attach a story or scene to bring to mind when seaching for a way, in this case to say “They’re going” ,  which in Spanish is VAN and is pronounced ‘ban’ , as in to prohibit or stop something happening. (This technique is called ‘a mnemonic’ , pronounced: “NEMONIC”..

Maybe that was a bit of a tenuous link, but all is fair in love and war…or in other words, we need to grasp onto ANY formula or help memorise a word or phrase in another language.

However, VAN also means ‘THEY GO’ which is just as important!

How cool is Spanish by being able to double up and just have ONE word for so many English words?

So the gist of all this is quite simple….

In English, we choose THEY GO or THEY’RE GOING depending on meaning:

THEY GO….to the shop….. every day/on Mondays/ when it rains…etc., [This suggests  a routine or a regular occurence]

THEY’RE GOING …to the shop ….later/ tomorrow/ on Monday / next week etc., [This suggests a one time occurrence in the FUTURE]

Look how easy in Spanish! SAME WORD= EASY!

VAN a la farmacia     =   THEY GO to the chemist……….as a routine or regular occurence…MANY TIMES, because they’re really ill and have to go often, perhaps]

VAN a la farmacia

VAN a la farmacia    =    THEY’RE GOING to the chemist…as a one-time occurrence in the future = ONCE, because they’re ill today, perhaps]

VAN a la farmacia

See how it’s the same?

Now for a big NO.

NO VAN a la farmacia  = THEY DON’T GO to the chemist (e.g. on Tuesdays because it’s closed, perhaps)

REMEMBER TO LISTEN AND REPEAT, EVEN THOUGH YOU FEEL YOU DON’T NEED TO. TRUST ME, YOU DO!

 

NO VAN a la farmacia

NO VAN a la farmacia = THEY AREN’T GOING to the chemist (e.g.; because it’s raining today)

NO VAN a la farmacia

See how it’s the same? This is so easy you’ll wonder why you hadn’t seen this pattern before!

However, you still need to be a bit inquisitive. So you may need the question form .

DO THEY GO …to the …..chemist/shop/beach/ station or wherever?

                    ¿VAN a la farmacia?

OR

ARE THEY GOING….. to the…chemist……OR/shop/beach/station or wherever?

¿VAN a la farmacia?

 

Perhaps you are seeing now some patterns emerging. For more on patterns you can always look back on a previous post: Conversation Patterns

This is so exciting, but isn’t over yet.

I have lots more recordings on this same theme which I’ll save for my next post coming soon.

In the meantime, look back over previous posts and especially listen to and repeat the recordings.

You could even take a look at the usefulness of repeating at Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

If there’s anything you think I have missed or something extra I could help you with, leave a comment and I will try to help you personally.

More next time…

 

 

 

 

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Ouch! That really hurts!… or “¡Me duele mucho!”

If anyone has wondered where I have been for the last few weeks, suffice to say that life simply got in the way, so when I was just about to get myself up and  running (forgive the pun here but I don’t get much entertainment at the moment), I literally tripped over a broken drain and fell in the street.

It would have been really embarrassing except that the pain in my wrist, and the thought that I might never write again, helped me overcome the sense of embarrassment.  Perhaps I should have been grateful for that small mercy, but Im not.

I would have preferred the embarrassment.

Instead I cried tears of fury and then frustration as the consequences  of the fall began to dawn.

 

I had broken my wrist badly in two places and, the day before yesterday, had emergency surgery to insert a lovley, shiny plate and several titanium rods to hold all the broken bits in position.

For those who believe me and don’t need photographic evidence, please look away.

Fot the rest, here is the x-ray of the result. Amazing what they can do!

FullSizeRender

I suppose I have to count my blessings, but I’m still busy counting titanium rods at the moment.

I’m fortunately still able to type, one-handed and very slowly and I’m finding it very difficult to add many pictures to this little post

Oh yes, but what has this got to do with Spanish?

Well, as this all happened in Spanish in Spain, it’s only right that I take the opportunity to use ths unfortunate incident to practice a bit of  ‘Emergency Room’ vocabulary.

This is an abridged version of the conversation I had at the Emergency department to days ago (with a few added extras). Just in case.

¿Dónde está el hospital, por favor?    Where is the hospital, please?

Quiero ir a URGENCIAS.     I want to go to EMERGENCIES.

Tengo seguro médico.        I have medical insurance.

No tengo seguro médico.    I haven’t got medical insurance.

Puedo pagar.                        I can pay.

Quiero ver a un médico.    I want to see a doctor

¿Cuánto es ver a un médico?   How much is it to see a doctor

El médico:”¿Qué le pasa?”         The doctor: “What happened?” or “What’s wrong?”

¿Cómo?                                                                                How?

¿Cuándo?                                                                          When?

“¿Dónde le duele? “                                                 Where does it hurt”

¿Le duele?                                                                         Does this hurt?

ME DUELE …..MUCHO                                          IT HURTS….VERY MUCH!

Vamos a sacar una radiografía.                     We’re going to take an x-ray

Vamos a hacer un análisis de sangre.         We’re going to take a blood test.

La muñeca está rota.                                      Your wrist is broken.

El tobillo está roto.                                          Your ankle is broken.

La pierna está rota.                                           Your leg is broken.

Tiene un esguince de la muñeca.                    You have a sprained wrist.

Tiene un esguince del tobillo.                         You have a sprained ankle.

 Necesita un vendaje.                                       You need a bandage.

Necesita una escayola.                                    You need a plaster cast.

Vaya a la farmacia con esta receta.              Go to the chemist with this prescription.

Tome la medicación en esta receta.            Take the medication in this prescription.

Tome las pastillas en esta receta.                 Take the tablets in this prescription.

KEY VOCABULARY

 

Un seguro                                             Insurance

Un seguro médico                               Medical insurance                            

Doler…… Me duele…… ¿Le duele?                         To hurt……It hurts me……Does it hurt you?.

Sacar una radiografía                                     To take an x-ray

Hacer un análisis de sangre                           To have a blood test

La muñeca                                                       The wrist

El tobillo                                                           The ankle

La pierna                                                         The leg

Rota                                                                   Broken (for feminine nouns)                                                            

Roto                                                               Broken (for masculine nouns)

Un Esguince                                                        A sprain        

Un Vendaje                                                         A bandage

Una Escayola                                                     A plaster cast

Tomar medicación                                        To take medication

Una Receta                                                      A prescription

Las Pastillas                                                    The tablets

 

Grammatical point    FORMAL ‘USTED’ FORM OF VERB

A  Spanish doctor will ALWAYS address a patient using the formal ‘USTED’ form of the verb, as will all other health professionals; nurses, carers, hospital workers, phamacists, etc.

See examples above:  Tiene = (Usted) tiene

Necesita= (Usted) necesita

Imperative (!)              Above used for doctor’s ORDERS (!)

Vaya= Vaya (Usted)             Go (!)  (For more articles on verb IR (to go) see HERE) 

Tome= Tome (Usted)         Take(!) (medicine)

 

I really do hope NO ONE needs to use any of that EMERGENCY vocabulary and phrases………

but I hope it might help in the future if ever needed.



Well, that was really tiring, all one-handed.

Anyone want to try their hand at translating the following from Spanish to English, leaving your translation in comments box below?

Es muy lento escribir con una mano

Estoy muy cansada ahora.

Voy a dormir

Buenas noches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VAIS: Conjugation of verb IR in Spanish for Beginners

IF ALL LANGUAGES WERE  GRAMMATICALLY THE SAME, WE WOULD’NT HAVE SO MUCH  FUN LEARNING THEM!

One curious thing in English grammar is that there is no distinction between talking one-to-one with a person and asking “Are you going to the shop?” or talking to two or more people and asking the same question: “Are you going to the shop?”

In many languages there is a BIG DIFFERENCE in these two terms.

A conceptual difference.

But not in English…

I have taught  English as a foreign language  to people from differing linguistic backgrounds and some are quite confused by this unusual grammar point. But this is what makes language so interesting, all these little idiosyncracies!

So you think you are confused by Spanish grammar?

Guess what?

Spanish people are also very confused by ENGLISH grammar.

 

confused_man

TOTALLY CONFUSED

Take a moment to feel some sympathy for the poor Spaniards when they discover that, grammatically, there is no difference addressing one person in the intimacy of your own home or addressing a group of friends when you’re out on the town one evening.

“How can that be possible?” they ask.

But that’s why we love languages so much, right?

SKIP THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH IN GREEN IF YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN THE GRAMMATICAL TERMINOLOGY OF IR = TO GO

It’s a funny old verb IR in Spanish. 

This post is looking into what is known grammatically as the SECOND PERSON PLURAL  of the verb TO GO = YOU GO or YOU ARE GOING or YOU’RE GOING..

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about addressing ONE person, THE SECOND PERSON SINGULAR   Spanish for Beginners: ¿A dónde vas?

Now it’s time to broaden our social network and address two, three or twenty and more. (THIS MEANS SECOND PERSON PLURAL)

 

Now start looking at the verb itself

Click on the audio link and repeat all the sentences recorded. Get used to hearing yourself making ‘funny noises’; also known as “speaking another language”.

 

VAIS

 

VAIS is a bit like English ‘ice’ but with a soft ‘B’ in front (BICE). A soft ‘B’ sound for the ‘V‘ is Spanish.

VAIS means :

YOU GO

(speaking to more than ONE person)

or

YOU ARE GOING

(speaking to more than ONE person)

or

YOU’RE GOING

(speaking to more than ONE person)

or

Repeat the audio link again and as many times as you like/want/need. You choose. The more the merrier!

That was so easy!

Now for the questions.

For this you simply add an inquisitive intonation to the exact same word. This is so much easier than making questions in English.

Remember how lucky you are to be learning Spanish and NOT English as a foreing language!

¿VAIS?

With a ‘question’ voice, this now means, speaking to more than one person:

   DO YOU GO?  (e.g. …to work at nine?)

or

ARE YOU GOING? (e.g. to work tomorrow?)

How easy is that? VERY EASY!

TIME TO START SPEAKING SPANISH NOW

Listen now to a native Spanish speaker (my daughter!) using VAIS in real sentences. Repeat after the first sentence, wait to hear her again and then repeat again to accustom yourself and readjust.

See this post about the benefits of repeating ALOUD your new language: Repeat, repeat, repeat…

SPEAK OUT IN SPANISH NOW !

La tienda = the shop   A la tienda = to the shop

VAIS a la tienda 

You (people) go the shop

or

You (people) are going to the shop


La fiesta = the party      A la fiesta = to the party

 

VAIS a la fiesta

 

You (people) go the party

or

You (people) are going to the party


La playa = the beach     A la playa = to the beach

VAIS a la playa

You (people) go the beach

or

You (people) are going to the beach

 


La casa de Jane = The house of Jane (Jane’s house)

A la casa de Jane = to Jane’s house

VAIS  a la casa de Jane

You (people) go Jane’s house

or

You (people) are going to Jane’s house


La estación = the station    A la estación = to the station

 

VAIS  a la estación

You (people) go the station

or

You (people) are going to the station


La plaza = the square ( in town where people meet)

A la plaza = to the square

VAIS a la plaza

You (people) go the square

or

You (people) are going to the square


Now for a couple of examples using masculine nouns where A LA changes to AL 

For more about his see How to say ‘To The’ in Spanish: A la or Al ?

El aeropuerto = the airport    Al aeropuerto = to the airport

VAIS al aeropuerto

You (people) go the airport

or

You (people) are going to the airport


El campo = the countryside       Al campo = to the countryside

 

VAIS al campo

You (people) go the countryside

or

You (people) are going to the countryside


El supermercado= the supermarket

 

Al supermercado= to the supermarket

VAIS al supermercado

You (people) go the supermercado

or

You (people) are going to the supermercado


72px-vraagteken-svg

 

Remember by putting on an inquisitive tone, all the sentences above will translate to questions.

It couldn’t be more simple.

Thinking back…

Was there anything more uncomfortable than sitting in a classroom when you were 13?

pupitres_y_sillas_si_uso

Schoolroom chairs ready to be discarded. Photo Credit

My heart goes out to some of my adult students… learning either English or Spanish.

I can see, no…I can feel, how uncomfortable they are, squeezing into those tiny chair/desk affairs that have been popular in schools in Spain for the last twenty years.

Teaching in private language academies in Spain, I have had to watch all stratas of society deal with the ‘classroom furniture ‘ provided by the Director of the School, who had never had to actually sit in this furniture herself  for a whole hour, EVER!

student_desk

Hybrid chair/desks Photo credit

I have seen grown men with beer guts trying to manouevre themselves self-consciously into these contraptions. I had to look away.

I have seen pregnant women discreetly attempting  not to harm their unborn baby, all in the name of linguistic excellence which comes via an uncomfortable, painful language lesson.

Worst of all I have to watch them extricate themselves from these traps at the end of the lesson.

It’s not pleasant.

 

The fact is that if your uncomfortable with a sore posterior on a hard chair, or  worrying about how you are going to elegantly escape the hold of a hybrid desk/chair (chair/desk), you’re not going to be paying much attention to your language coach, training your ear in the intricacies of Spanish accents or inviting you to grasp the concept of the Pluperfect subjunctive.

We all have different attention spans, I’ve found..

 

Then there are the dreaded flashbacks

There are some things you just can’t forget and flashbacks to these moments can be very scary.

Some of my adult students have mentioned that, for them, sitting in a classroom after 10, 20 or even 30 years triggers  memories of when they were 13 years old in Mr.Coleman’s Latin lessons.

Did I say Mr. Coleman? Oh yes; That was  ME.

Mr. Coleman

monastery_school

This is NOT Mr. Coleman

Mr. Coleman was, (how would you say?), a typical “old-school” -pardon the pun- Maths  teacher (apologies to all lovely, sensitive, understanding  teachers of mathematics).

When I was thirteen in Mr. Coleman’s maths lesson, I spent the whole time with my head down, pretending I was jotting down what he was saying.

 

I wasn’t the only one.

All my classmates knew that if he caught your eye, even just slightly, there would be a 99.99% chance that he would, …drum roll…, ask you a question. GASP!

So if your mind flashes back to that type of scenario when now, as a mature adult you find yourself in a kind of parrallel universe, sitting in a tiny cramped desk in a language class, trying to maintain some of your lost dignity, you have my deepest sympathies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The strange thing is you can  revert back to when you were a shy thirteen-year- old and try and avoid eye-contact with your delightful language teacher.

She might just catch your eye and ask you to speak! GASP!

It’s a curious phenomenon. You have probably signed up in order to speak, understand, read and write your new language.

You may have even paid quite a bit of money in order to do just that in that very classroom, but at times there’s almost something like a time warp that settles over a language classroom and whisks you back to that scary feeling when you were thirteen and Mr. Coleman caught … Did I just say Mr. Coleman again?

And then there’s the chalkboard. Although this fortunately is becoming a thing of the distant past, and is being replaced by the white marker board.

chalkboard_color

Photo Credit This is NOT Mr. Coleman

The chalk board was horrible. Squeaky, scratchy, dirty, chalky.

The only advantage was that often Mr. Coleman would spend five or ten minutes searching for chalk as there was never enough for him.

Oh, I was so envious of the classmate he chose to leave the class and go to find more chalk.

He only ever asked his ‘favourites’ to do that (and that was never me), but at least it gave us all a few minutes respite, him included.

He would go back to his desk and sit, ceremoniously waiting for the chalk to appear, eyeing up his next victim; I mean deciding who to challenge next with an interesting mathematical enigma.

We all sat in silent terror with our heads down. (Remember the eye-contact issue?)

Oh dear!

What’s this got to do with language learning?

It’s so hard to throw off shyness and embarrassment when attempting to speak another language in front of others. Just like it was so embarrassing to speak in front of the class when you were thirteen.

I get it because I’ve been through it.

But even if your only option at the moment for your language learning is to attend a ‘traditional classroom’, in front of other language learners who you think are better than you, embrace it with all your might!

How to get over shyness and embarrassment in a language classroom

  • Be prepared

Do the tasks, if any,  that have been asked of you by the teacher so you have a head start for the language session.

  • Practise as much as you can OUT LOUD

Practise speaking out loud as much as you can. Take the homework or the text you know you will be working on in the next language session and PRACTISE some of the items  OUT LOUD  to yourself.

This is so helpful for your language development, because your brain gets used to hearing yourself saying those strange sounds (i.e. new language) and your embarrassment will be automatically reduced.

See previous post about the benefits at Repeat, repeat, repeat…

  • Remember why you are there anyway

This is about motivation. Keeping in mind why you are learning, what you want to achieve and believing that you will reach your goals no matter what are all great motivational mantras to internalise.

  • Make realistic goals. Remember you do not need native fluency EVER!

Now go for it, try out your new language, have fun with it and forget the worry about how it might not sound exactly right!

It’s NEVER going to sound exactly right, if what you are aiming for is native fluency.

Instead aim for second language conversational fluency; enough to get by on, enough to  make yourself understood and understand, up to a certain level in your new language.

Would that not be wonderful? YES

Would that not be attainable? YES

 

I hope that helps.

Do YOU feel or have you felt shy and embarrassed in language classroom situation?

Let me know if this resonates with you and if a classroom environment is uncomfortable for you in your language learning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Vamoos’ or Vamos? Shall we go? Spanish for beginners

Spanish is so cool and precise!

VAMOS (Pronunciation ‘BAMOS’) *

Important note: VAMOOS  does not exist!

As do many other Spanish words, VAMOS doubles up for several ideas in English

Vamos. We’re going (now)  (It’s just a fact)

Vamos  We go (usually) ( It’s just a fact)

¡Vamos! Let’s go. (It’s a great idea!)

¿Vamos? Shall we go? (It’s a suggestion?)

Now that may look a little messy, but it’s the English that is actually messy….

Look how simple Spanish is that the same word VAMOS doubles, triples, even quadruples up for several GOING ideas when relating to US, or WE!

Can you see the Pattern emerging?

(For more on “Patterns in Spanish” see here.

Now for a bit of practice:

La tienda : The shop

Vamos a la tienda: We’re going to the shop.

The audio file below will say: “La tienda” (the shop) . You can repeat this.

Then you will hear : “Vamos a la tienda.

There’s a pause and you can repeat the sentence.

Try this now!

La fiesta = The party

Vamos a la fiesta=We’re going to the party.

 

Let’s just have a quick look at the patterns emerging here

 

 La tienda=  the shop….                 a la tienda= to the shop

                              VAMOS….. a la tienda 

                can express several ideas in English

a) WE’RE  to the shop (now)

or       b) WE GO to the shop (everyday)

or       c) LET’S GO to the shop!  (great suggestion!)

and,  if said with a ‘questioning lilt in the  voice’ ?? it also can express

d) ARE WE GOING to the shop? (now)

or    e) DO WE GO to the shop?  (everyday)

or    f) SHALL WE GO to the shop? (great question suggestion!)

 

 

Now it’s the REAL DEAL !

It’s time to listen and repeat after a native Spanish speaker, my daughter!

COPYCATS!

She will say a sentence, wait for you to repeat it, then she will say it again, after which you repeat again, adjusting your speed, intonation, or accent to copy her as closely as you can.

My daughter is  very patient and understanding. You can even click again on the audio start-arrow and she will happily oblige to do a ‘repeat performance’ if you so wish!

You might need this several times to get a hold on the real accent and intonation. (Just saying…)

 


                     8 more simple sentences which will get you speaking Spanish now!

 

Australian (AUS) fans in green and gold cheering 2000 Sydney PGLa fiesta = the party.

¿Vamos a la fiesta?     Vamos a la fiesta.


playa_parac3adso2c_villajoyosa2c_espac3b1a2c_2014-07-032c_dd_01-02_panLa playa = the beach

¿Vamos a la playa?        Vamos a la playa.


window_4_by_carroll_jones_iiila casa de Jane = the house of Jane (Jane’s house)

¿Vamos a la casa de Jane?    Vamos a la casa de Jane.


By Nací con un pie yámbico [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Málaga local train station Photo Credit

La estación = the station

 

¿Vamos a la estación?      Vamos a la estación.


317La plaza = the square (geographical, central point of towns a villages)

¿Vamos a la plaza?   Vamos a la plaza.


 

The last three sample sentences are using masculine nouns:

el aeropuerto, el campo, el supermercado

(See previous post about ‘A LA’ versus ‘AL’ here  and why it’s important!)

aeropuorto_de_malaga_terminal_2

El aeropuerto = airport      AL aeropuerto =TO THE airport

¿Vamos al aeropuerto?       Vamos al aeropuerto. 


vallealcudialavera2

La Valle Alcudia, Spain Photo Credit

El campo = the country ( as in the field, the countryside, nature)

 

AL campo = TO THE country

¿Vamos al campo?           Vamos al campo.


Por Eduardo P (Trabajo propio) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], undefined

Un supermercado en España Photo Credit

El supermarket = the supermarket

 

AL supermercado =  TO THE supermarket


 

Please let me know if this helps….

or what else I could do to improve this post…

Are there any bug-bear areas in your Spanish grammar you need a bit of clarification with? Ask me.

Jot down a comment in the Comments box below.

I might be able to help.

 

 

Va (Bah!) Spanish for Beginners. The verb IR : To go

Author’s note: I’m so excited to have been able to add audio files to this article.

Read on and  listen below to how real Spanish people speak  real Spanish!


 

The white lace curtains are twitching in ‘suburbia’.

window_4_by_carroll_jones_iii

White lace curtains…Photo Credit

We’re all wanting to know where’s she going? With whom? For how long? When will she be back?

And so on, and so on…

Would not that be great to be able to say in Spanish?

Maybe not. You’re not a gossip peeking out from behind those lace curtains.

But you really MIGHT  need to talk about where someone goes or where they are going in Spanish at some time soon.

running_young_woman

¿A dónde VA?  Where IS SHE GOING? Photo Credit

To revise the verb  IR : TO GO, take a quick look at a previous post of the First Person Singular of IR : ‘VOY’ : Spanish for Beginners (I go / I’m going)

Also Spanish for Beginners: ¿A dónde vas? can help with an overview of the Second Person Singular of IR : VAS (You go / you’re going)

Moving on now to the Third Person Singular of IR : VA 

(Pronunciation note: The ‘V‘ sound in Spanish is more like a soft ‘B’ sound in English, so VA is pronounced almost like the exclamation in English ‘BAH!

We’ve seen a few times now how Spanish can double up many times for several meanings in English and that’s what makes it so simple!

The single word VA can have several meanings which should make things simple, but it could be confusing, if you know what I mean?

Let’s look at this great word VA,

                                                                                       VA

  • SHE GOES = VA
  • SHE’S GOING= VA
  • HE GOES= VA
  • HE’S GOING= VA
  • IT GOES  (like a dog a cat, a car, a train, an aeroplane etc.)= VA
  • IT’S GOING  (like a dog a cat, a car, a train, an aeroplane etc.)= VA

Is that not amazing??

Remember: IN CONTEXT it will probably be very clear WHO is being referred to to…

but if in doubt you can always add SHE = ELLA or HE = ÉL to your sentence. but Spanish people rely on context and often don’t bother with the HE or SHE words!

VA  even can be used instead of VAS which we saw above, to mean

  • YOU GO
  • YOU’RE GOING

but this use is limited to very polite or formal situations.

(I’ll talk about this issue ‘polite‘ and ‘formal‘ forms of the Spanish verb in a future post.)

So it’s all very clear now how extremely useful this little unassuming word is…

Let’s have some fun making sentences with  VA

Listen to a native Spanish speaker, my daughter Araceli, pronounce each phrase.  Repeat what she says and then listen to the phrase again.

  • Listen to each recording…repeat the phrase in the space provided and then wait to hear the phrase again. How close were you?

Note: Remember “to the…. shop” = A LA…TIENDA (for feminine nouns with ‘ la)

  • Va a la tienda  

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going …to the shop

  • Va a la clase de español

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to the Spanish class

  • Va a la peluquería

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to the hairdresser’s

  • Va a  casa de Jane

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to the house of Jane (Jane’s house)

  • Va a la estación

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to the station

  • Va a la plaza

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to the Square

Remember “to the…work” = AL…TRABAJO (for masculine nouns with ‘el‘)

  • Va al trabajo

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to (the) work

  • Va al colegio

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to (the) school

  • Va al bar

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to the bar

  • Va al mercado

She goes /She’s going /He goes / He’s going…to the market

For more on A LA and AL , see previous post How to say ‘To The’ in Spanish: A la or Al ?

I’m so excited to have been able to add audio files to this article.

Does it really help to listen to a native speaker  carefully and repeat what (and HOW) they speak?

Please let me know in the comments below if you would be interested in listening to more native Spanish speakers in my posts.

I really hope this helps…

Only one basket? How different styles in your language learning can help you reach your goals.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

beuckelaer_girl_with_a_basket_of_eggs

Too many eggs in one basket!

I know Easter has just passed and it would have been more sensible to use that metaphor during the Easter weekend, but hey…I’m late!

Starting to learn a new language is an exciting time. Everything is shiny new and squeaky clean and you want to get everything right.

You imagine it’s going to be a straight run, with progress being made after every learning session you undertake….

(See a previous post about how motivation drives your language learning: How learning a language is like learning to drive. )

You head straight for the Internet to find the exact route you should take. A simple phrase like  “how to learn a language” into the search engine will result in hundreds, nay,  thousands of suggestions for language learning.

Unbelievably easy.

We are really living the Golden Age of language learning at the moment, as there are bucketfuls of useful resources on line that can help you in your learning process.

Wonderful.

 What was that about the eggs in the basket?

The idea behind the expression (for those readers not so familiar with English expressions) is that if you are collecting eggs ever (!)  and you put them all in one basket, if anything happens to that basket, such as your tripping over an angry hen on the way back to the kitchen, all the eggs will end up broken and resulting in NO eggs, and an even more furious hen.

L0049524 Angry hen from Darwin's Expression of Emotions....

This is an angry hen! Photo Credit

The inference is that it would be wiser to put the eggs you collected into several baskets, in order to minimise the risk of breaking all the eggs.

This expression is widely used in English, often in reference to financial matters.

The point I’m trying to make in regard to language learning is that if you put all your eggs, i.e. All your efforts to learn, into one basket, i.e. ONE particular method or Language ‘Application’ then you might be limiting your learning process to the small screen.

The language learning process might be summarised as acquiring the sound and visual system to communicate with others by listening,  speaking, reading and writing.

That just goes to show there are an awful lot of boxes to be ticked in order to reach some level of competency in a new language.

19 things you might want to do if you are learning a foreign language

When someone wants to learn a new language, as an adult, they could really  mean anything between 1 to 16 of the following:

1) I want to be able to understand what the native speakers says to me.

2) I want to be able to reply to what has been said in the target language.

3) I want to be able to understand a television programme in the target. language

5) I want to be able to understand a radio programme in the target language.

6) I want to be able to read a newspaper in the target language.

7) I want to be able to read a book in the target language.

8) I want to be able to read informative brochures and pamphlets.

9) I want to be able to read the letters I receive in the target language.

10) I want to be able to understand songs being sung in the target language.

11) I want to be able to talk about myself in the target language.

12) I want to be able to ask about the other person in their native language.

13) I want to be able to talk about other people and things to that person in their native language.

14) I want to be able to say something funny in the target language.

15) I want to be able to write a note to my neighbour in their native language.

16) I want to be able to talk about my business matters in the target  language.

17) I want to be able to understand what is going on around me in the target language.

18) I want to be able to talk on the phone in the target language.

19) I want to be able to understand what a native speaker says on the phone.

One method alone cannot prepare you entirely for those 19 reasons you may want to learn a second language….

So how do you really navigate through to the short-cut to tick the boxes you need to tick, in order to achieve the success you’re looking for in your language learning journey?

4 STEPS TO MAKING REALISTIC LANGUAGE LEARNING GOALS

footsteps

I know there are over 4 steps in this picture, just to prove langauge learning is flexible Photo Credit

  1. STEP ONE: IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
  2. STEP TWO: CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS (MAKE ACTION PLAN) TO MAKE THINGS PERSONAL
  3. STEP THREE: TAKE ACTION AND INTO BATTLE
  4. STEP FOUR: RE-ASSESS SITUATION AND ADJUST PLAN OF ACTION TO SUIT.

Let’s look back at the road map above to focus on each point.

  • STEP ONE. 

It’s important to identify your specific goals in your language learning process. Look over the 19 skills you may want to work on and make a specific note.

It’s too flimsy,  vague and TOO BIG to think “I want to learn …(e.g.) Spanish!”

Be more specific and think ” I want to be able to talk about myself in Spanish to a native speaker in….(e.g.) 12 weeks.” 

  • STEP TWO

Now, according to your specific goal from STEP ONE, look at what your options are, specifically focusing on the skills your require.

In the example I chose; ” I want to be able to talk about myself in Spanish to a native speaker in….(e.g.) 12 weeks.”, you could look for specific programmes dealing with that subject area using  personal themes.

Why learn vocabulary and expressions about Juan working in an office in Guatemala when you are Shirley from Hartlepool wanting to talk about yourself and your teenage daughters?

Make it personal! Focus on vocabulary and expressions that are true to YOU and YOUR life. Don’t waste time on Juan in Guatemala …YET!

  • STEP THREE

Now’s the time for committment.

You said 12 weeks so it’s 12 weeks.

Commit on a daily basis to doing  something about this language thing you have signed up for and that you would really love to achieve!

Get the ‘APP’. Buy the books. Research more words. Use on-line resources to their maximum. Listen to native speakers as much as possible. Find language buddies on line who can help amazingly.

See how far you can go, with committment.

Prove to yourself you can do it.

  • STEP FOUR

This is a very important step, not to be taken lightly! (Pun intended; sorry!)

Half-way through your designated time-scale, stop and take a look backwards and forwards.

Ask the question: Has the approach, method, ‘Application’ you have been using lived up to your expectations?

Will you be able to meet your short-term goal, as in the example above, of being able to “talk about yourself in Spanish to a native speaker in….(e.g.) 12 weeks.”?

If so then you’re on the right track. Keep steaming ahead and reach your goal. Give yourself a treat in celebration.

Show the world how you have reached the target you set out to reach.

Fantastic.

Well Done!

HOWEVER,

if you feel you aren’t quite where you thought you would be after setting realistic goals, then think about how to turn things round before you get to the point of failure and demotivation.

It’s not you who’s failing but it may be the approach, method, etc.

There are so many different factors that enter into second language acquisition for adults that there may be several things you could change if you feel you’re getting nowhere fast.

If you feel you aren’t getting where you want to be, then if you stop and re-assess your situation NOW, you’ll be in plenty of time to  get back on track and reach your goal.

You may need more time committment. You might be a more visual learner and need to WATCH the language being used in films, on television, podcasts, or something similar.

(E.g., you may even need to re-assess your time-scale and extend the goal for another 4 weeks.)

The important thing is to keep the goal in sight and strive towards it.

So this is where we get back to those eggs in that basket….

    Don’t rely on ONE sole method to enable you to reach your language goals

Diversify, try different ways, styles, approaches and see what works best for you. In the end it’s all about YOUR committment, YOUR motivation, YOUR goal, and  how YOU learn.

Most importantly, don’t give up!

Let me know what your short-term goals are for your language learning in the next few months. Make a comment in the box below and let me help you make realistic goals for you.

I hope this helps.