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Easy Ways To Improve Your Spanish

From the Mailbox

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Looking for a way that doesn't take a lot of effort to improve your ability to use Spanish? Here is a letter from a reader that offers some good advice:
    When I was learning Castellano I found that watching American movies with Spanish titles to be very helpful. An effortless inexpensive multi-media technique as it were.

    Also I found the TV novelas (soap operas) to be an invaluable source of listening to the spoken language with great diction and clarity. Ditto the Voice of America in Spanish on shortwave.

    Another simple technique that I used was to carry 3-by-5 cards and jot down new words whenever I encountered them in my daily rounds. Then I would determine which would be the most useful to add to my permanent vocabulary and made flash cards out of them with the English translation on the flip side. I also did this with the most frequently used phrases.

    Also comic strips in Spanish language newspapers were another useful source. I love the literature and poetry and when I was able to understand the nuances and both poetic and idiomatic Spanish I knew that I had mastered the language.

    Fortunately I had learned the tedious conjugations and grammar in high school and college and that was an excellent base on which to build. Later while living in Brazil I went on to learn enough Portuguese to communicate quite well but I was most unwilling to study the even more tedious conjugation and grammar of that language. I just had to pick it up by ear. I can also do reasonably well in Italian but Spanish is definitely where I have the greatest fluency and comprehension.

    When I lived in Miami it was indispensable. Here in California where it historically preceded English we have the amusing situation where I find myself attempting to speak Spanish with third or fourth generation people who have lost the great treasure of their ancestral language.

    And then of course there is Spanglish which may eventually become the first language of Miami.

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