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Readers Respond: Expanding Your Spanish Vocabulary

Responses: 8


Even as you're learning Spanish grammar, you can expand your communications skills by adding to your vocabulary. What has worked for you?

Immerse yourself in the Spanish language

I have found the amount of Spanish available online has made it so much easier to learn Spanish. I keep a big vocab book with short sections of relevant and related word groups. I then just watch, listen to and read Spanish and fill each section up. I find reading the news on sites like El País, watching TV programmes on RTVE and listening to the Notes in Spanish podcasts are the methods that work best for me (I'm advanced level).
—Guest Matt

Informal times needed

I find that classes only help with the basic and drama usage, but to speak and understand what people normally say, you need to spend time with Spanish-speaking people informally. And of course practice, read and practice some more.

Lists galore

What helps me is to make lists. In the bedroom pinned on the inside of the wardrobe is a list of all the clothes (in Spanish) there and as I put them on I say them in Spanish. Also when I go shopping I make out my list in Spanish. I have sticky labels stuck on things in the kitchen and bathroom. I have a list by my computer of all Spanish computer words, such as "computadora" and say it ever time it turn it on.
—Guest Yvonne

Labels where ever you can

Make small, easy-to-see sticky labels on the computer with the words of objects in Spanish and your native language in a smaller-font type. Place the labels throughout your house, car and anywhere else where appropriate. Example, in the bathroom under the soap dish you can put "Jabonera / Soap Dish." Also, little by little familiarize yourself with words and terms in Spanish to describe and talk about the things that make you "tick" and the things that you are interested in most. If you like computers and browsing the web work on building up your vocab in those area. If you are interested subjects related to the universe, time travel, etc., you might benefit from watching documentaries on your favorite subject in Spanish with and without subtitles. If you like wrestling try watching "lucha libre" in Spanish. That should help get you started. You don't have to be a smoker or the desire to lose weight to listen to self-improvement audio CDs on how to quit smoking or lose weigh


I read a lot and look up the words I don't know. Try to pick a dictionary that give lots of examples and multiple meaning for words.
—Guest Margaret

Keep a little Spanish book

Write words down you don't know and ask people who speak Spanish what they mean. Also, don't go by what the dictionaries say all of the time. Some of the time they are not correct or you got to pick out the right word.
—Guest elarrozconfrijoles

Learning vocabulary

Spanish soap operas! Remembering that it takes at least 13 times to use the word to remember....

Electronic Flashcards

I have been studying Spanish for a long time (about six years now), and am currently in a Spanish MA program. Over time, I have found that flashcard study has been useful for learning vocabulary in a focused, systematic way. I also learn through reading. While of course everyone's experience is different, I seem to recall words that I want to say in Spanish better when I have studied them as flashcards. Additionally, after spending much time with paper flashcards, I finally discovered electronic ones last year. They are great and available free on www.flashcardexchange.com and perhaps other websites as well.
—Guest Jonathan

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