Spanish Steps, Spanish for teachers, Spanish for school administratorsSpanish Steps, Spanish for teachers, Spanish for school administrators

Spanish For School Personnel

Posted on June 25th, 2008 in Spanish for School Administrators | No Comments »

Summertime is a great time to kick back, soak up the sun and catch up on all those things that you’ve been wanting to do.  If one of those things that you’ve been wanting to do is to better communicate with your Spanish-speaking students and their parents, there is no better time to do so than right now!  Why not impress your colleagues, and your students AND their parents with all that you’ve learned when you head back to school!  Spanish With Class and The Extra Steps are great, light-hearted workbooks that will assist you with speaking Spanish at school and at school events.  And, they’re fun.  (Come on, how many times have you said to a colleague, “You know, I’d really like to learn a little Spanish.  I just don’t know where to get started).  Formal classes can bombard you with too much vocabulary that you don’t need and grammar that you can’t use.  Why not learn just what YOU need to learn for school?

When you do head back to school, you can immediatley start practicing what you’ve been learning.  One thing that many administrators and teachers may not realize is that they have an invaluable and accessible resource everyday at school to help them even more as they learn Spanish.  What is that resource?  Your Spanish-speaking students, of course!  Be they 5 or 18-years old, these students will LOVE to help you practice and learn.  Make sure that when you pass them in the hallway or see them in class, that you get help with a vocabulary word or phrase.  They absolutely relish the idea of being able to help you learn their language.  Not only that, they’re flattered that you’ve taken an interest in their heritage, culture and language.  Don’t be shy!  You will invariably get a giggle out of the younger ones, and the older ones will just kind of grin as they help you.  And don’t stop there!  When Mom and Dad come for Back-to-School Night or Open House, let them know that you’re learning as well.  Nothing can bridge the gap of communication more than being honest about your intentions to speak their language.

So relax, have fun and take it one step at a time.  Remember, learning a language is NOT a goal.  It’s a journey, (and should be a fun one at that)!

English vs. Spanish

Posted on June 19th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

While no one can really say with absolute certainty, experts estimate that the English language contains somewhere around 600,000 words, making it the ‘wordiest’ language in the world.  That’s really interesting, especially if you think about how many words native English-speakers typically use in their average day . . . about 2,500!!  It’s also estimated that the average native English-speaker has a vocabulary of 15,000 to 20,000, (again, no one knows for sure).  That seems like an awful lot of words going to waste! 

Something that people learning English struggle with are those little things called phrasal verbs.  It’s tough for them to grasp that simply by adding a preposition to a verb, you can completely alter the meaning.  Take the verb ‘to take’ (in Spanish, tomar).  Now consider the difference in meaning when we add that preposition: to take out, to take off, to take in, to take away, to take back, to take over, to take up, to take on . . . you get the idea!

There’s a lesson here for folks learning Spanish.  A good suggestion is to remember that, while you may read, write and speak your native language like the well-educated adult that you are, your ability in the language you’re acquiring is much more childlike and your vocabulary is not as extensive.  Don’t try to translate everything ver batim from English.  A story was once told about the Spanish teacher who was grading essays and came across the words, ‘Yo tomé espalda el libro.’  Scratching her head, the teacher was baffled for a moment but, because she was a native-English speaker and knew the thought process of the composer, she knew that the student had looked up ‘to take’ in his dictionary, and then proceeded to look up, ‘back’ (espalda).  Putting the two together he came up with ‘tomé espalda.’

The moral of the story?  if you get into a bind trying to translate something like, ‘to take back,’ the first thing you should ask yourself is, ‘IS THERE ANOTHER WAY TO SAY THAT IN ENGLISH.  You will more than likely think, “Ah yes, TO RETURN!” (devolver)  This will assuredly make using your Spanish-English dictionary much easier and produce more fluid results. 

So, remember, if you’re stuck . . . rethink it in English first!


Notes Home To Mom and Dad

Posted on June 5th, 2008 in Spanish Parents | No Comments »

Have you ever felt overwhelmed as you’ve attempted to learn a new language? All of those vocabulary words and what about those verb conjugations!?! But, learning Spanish really can be simplified.

First of all, there literally are THOUSANDS of words in Spanish and English that are cognates. Now, some of these words are exact cognates, and some look so close in writing that it’s easy to determine their meaning. OK, now let’s stop right here for a few considerations. Of course, it’s a lot easier to recognize or produce these words when they are in in written form than it is to understand them or to say them aloud.

This is the beauty of many of Spanish Steps products. By simply learning a few things about written Spanish, you can communicate volumes to Mom and Dad through your written correspondence. Going Home With Spanish and Home Again With Spanish contain hundreds of already translated comments from English to Spanish. But, an added benefit is that each workbook also TEACHES you why you’re writing what you’re writing. The goal is for you to write more and more comments on your own as you continue to learn the language.

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