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Degree: German and Spanish (Bachelors) - Bristol University
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In the modern era, there are more ways than ever to practise a language without knowing someone who speaks it. Obviously, if you do know someone, that'd be ideal, but until you meet a Spanish speaking friend, these are some good ways to practise:
TV/Films. These are great for improving your vocabulary and auditory skills, and you can find these online on Netflix or buy them on DVD on Amazon. If you can't quite understand it all at first, put on the subtitles and see if you can identify which part of the subtitle goes with which word!
Songs. These are also great for vocabulary! One thing you can do is find the lyrics and see if you can translate them into English.
Books. Reading is by far the best way to improve your reading skills and written Spanish. The best thing to do is to find a book at an appropriate level and just read. Keep a dictionary on hand so you can look up words you don't know!
Talk to yourself. You may look a bit weird, but this is great for forcing your brain to process thoughts in Spanish, even if that's through translation. This will increase your fluency!see more
Spanish, unlike English, has two different past tenses, the simple past, or preterite, and the imperfect. The two have different meanings and are conjugated differently.
A verb in the simple past means that an action happened at a fixed period of time. The action is completed and it all happened in the past. For example, "Yo fui al cine" (I went to the cinema) or "Él habló con Pablo ayer" (He spoke with Pablo yesterday). Generally, if you see expressions of time, such as "ayer", "la semana pasada", etc., the sentence will use a simple past.
A verb in the imperfect is something that happens in the past, not at any particular point in time, or habitually over time. Many times, this can be translated into English as "used to", but not always. This tense is used to set the scene and describe how something was. For example, "Cuando vivía, era profesor" (When he lived, he was a teacher) or "Mi madre siempre me decía que tenía que comer las verduras" (My mother always told me that I had to eat my vegetables).
Often times you will see the two past tenses in the same sentence. The imperfect will set the scene and the simple past will tell you what happens in that moment. This will happen a lot in stories. For example, "Mientras hablábamos sobre algo importante, mi hermano nos interrumpió" (While we were talking about something important, my brother interrupted us). The first verb is setting the scene generally, and the second one describes an action that happened right then and there and was completed. This sort of sentence is good for helping you remember the difference.see more
Spanish is great because it is a language which is completely phonetic, which means it is read exactly how it is written and always follows certain rules. One of those rules is about stress. All multi-syllabic words have a stressed syllable, both in English and Spanish. In English for example, SPANish, phoNEtic, comPLETEly, pronunciAtion. In English, it doesn't really matter where you put the stress; it just sounds a bit odd if you do it wrongly, but in Spanish it can change the meaning of a word.
In Spanish, there two main rules to stress. The first is that any word that ends in a vowel, n, or s will have the second to last syllable stressed: HAblo, caMINo, eXAmen.The other is that any word that ends in any consonant other than n or s is stressed on the last syllable: espaÑOL, verDAD.
The rule for accents is simple: anything that breaks the two big stress rules needs an accent. For example: liMÓN, piRÁmide, haBLÓ.
The other time you might use an accent is when distinguishing between two words that are spelled the same, like se and sé, este and éste, or que and qué. These differences need to be memorised, so keep a list and add any new ones!see more