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Learning Spanish as a Foreign Language

Acquiring the necessary skills to be proficient in any new language is an interesting challenge that adds as a definite asset to any individual’s academic qualifications. Mastering an additional foreign language not only contributes towards the achievement of career goals but also helps the learner enhance and expand his or her network of people that s/he aspires to socialize or settle for a new business with. The purpose of learning Spanish as a Foreign Language is no different. A widely spoken language, Spanish is not only the official language of one of the most influential European countries, Spain, but also the official language of most Latin American countries. In fact, Spanish is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

The Basics of Spanish Language

Any universal language carries at its base a list of standard vowels which needs to be grasped thoroughly by a person willing to speak / learn the language. This rule is not an exception to the learning of Spanish. On the contrary, it is even more necessary as the Spanish language makes extensive use of stress over the final vowel sound to distinguish verb conjugation forms. For instance, the word camino means "road" or "I walk", whereas caminó (with final stress) means "you/ he/ she/ it walked". Another example is the word práctico (first-syllable stress) which means "practical", whereas practíco (second-syllable stress) means "I practice", and practicó (last-syllable stress) translates as "you/ he/ she/ it practiced." Hence, learning where to lay the stress is certainly the first step towards mastering the language in question.

After the mastery of pronunciation and accent, the next step towards acquisition of the Spanish language would definitely be the learning of sentence construction. Understanding the basics of Spanish grammar and parts of speech is a must. Though the lexicology tends more towards Latin, the grammatical rules of the Spanish language are quite similar to that of the English language, though the conjugation of verbal tenses are rather different (please also refer to above). For example, "comer" (To Eat) in simple past is "comía" (‘er’ is replaced by ‘ía’) and in the present continuous tense is "comiendo" (‘er’ is replaced by ‘iendo’).

Ways of Learning

The most recommended immediate step for any individual aspiring to speak fluent Spanish would be to join online websites and blogs offering Spanish language learning courses and aids, some of which are even free. (www.studyspanish.com contains an exhaustive list of online Spanish learning resources). The content of online language learning courses is often made up of short-term modules introducing the learner to the basics of the Spanish language, usually words and phrases that can be applied to everyday life situations and common human interactions. Another option for learning Spanish would be to access online newspapers and other forms of writing in the language. In fact, reading newspaper headlines is the best way to learn keywords of frequent usage. Learners may also choose to compare the texts in Spanish with English or French versions that are usually available. Listening to Spanish music, which is indeed very popular worldwide, is another enjoyable and innovative means to enhance one's Spanish speaking skills. In effect, Spanish songs effectively stress the phonetic aspect of the language, which will definitely help in mastering this linguistic aspect. The learner can compile his or her very own collection of MP3s of Spanish music and listen to it as often as possible. Of course, disciplined practice of listening to Spanish and repeating words and sentences in the language is an effective way to pick up the language fast and to brush up one’s language skills.

Initial days of learning Spanish may pose to be tough but, eventually, determination and the eagerness to listen the sounds of each Spanish word will help a lot in mastering the language at a spoken level. To acquire proficiency at the written level, however, reference to books and structured courses – whether online or within a formal educational setting – and the guidance of Spanish language teachers / instructors are equally necessary.