New Year’s Language Resolution? don Quijote Offers 10 Tips on How to Learn a Foreign Language

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don Quijote, a leading provider of in-country immersion Spanish courses in Spain and Mexico, is offering 10 tips on how to learn a new language, for all those aspiring linguists who make learning Spanish – or any foreign language – this year’s top resolution.

don Quijote, a leading provider of in-country immersion Spanish courses in Spain and Mexico, is offering 10 tips on how to learn a new language, for all those aspiring linguists who make learning Spanish – or any foreign language – this year’s top resolution.

Top 10 Tips on How to Learn Spanish or Any Foreign Language:

1. Set realistic expectations. When you begin to learn a new language, you will make mistakes and you will not understand everything. It’s perfectly natural. Accept it as part of the learning process. Don’t expect to become fluent in a few weeks - or even months. Fluency takes every student a lot of work and a lot of time. The important thing is to get started – and to learn to communicate basic ideas to native speakers. That you can do in just a few lessons!

2. Flash cards. Carry index cards with you. Whenever you hear a new word or phrase, write it down. Put the English meaning on the back of the card. If you like, you can colour code your cards into categories: foods, irregular verbs, colloquial phrases, greetings, etc.

3. Start rolling those rr’s. This can be tricky, as the rr sound doesn’t exist in English. Here’s a tip to master that roll of the tongue: Visualize the front of your tongue as a flag flapping in a strong breeze. Now try purring like a cat. If you've succeeded in doing both simultaneously, you’ve likely come out with something pretty close to the Spanish rr.

4. Get a Spanish-speaking boyfriend or girlfriend. Develop relationships with native speakers. OK, the romance side of things isn’t required, but it helps. The more time you spend speaking Spanish, about anything and everything, the faster you’ll gain confidence and find yourself speaking naturally.

5. Listen to Spanish. Tune in to Spanish radio, Spanish movies, Spanish soap operas, Spanish news channels, Spanish music…. Listening to Spanish between classes will keep what you’ve learned fresh in your mind.

6. Read Spanish. Read Spanish magazines, books and newspapers. Many bookstores and local libraries have language sections with a variety of books in and about Spanish.

7. Speak out loud. Transfer your newly learned language skills from your mind to your mouth – right away! Always practice your Spanish out loud. Read your Spanish books and magazines out loud. Although you may feel a little silly at first, this is an important first step toward improving your pronunciation and gaining confidence speaking in Spanish.

8. Make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the learning process. In almost any country you visit, you will find that people appreciate your attempt to speak their language, even if you don’t get everything right. You’ll learn more from your mistakes than from any class or book you’ll ever invest in.

9. Visit online forums. Meet and exchange ideas with Spanish students from all over the world. Ask questions, answer questions, find yourself a Spanish pen pal! A quick Google search will pull a good starting list of websites for students of Spanish.

10. Maximise your exposure. What is your ultimate language goal? If, like most budding linguists, you want to gain fluency, you’ll want to find all the direct exposure you can to achieve your goal. An immersion course in a Spanish-speaking country is a great way to do this, whether for an extended course or a quick language vacation. Not only will you study with native teachers and live with the locals, when you find yourself speaking Spanish just to order your coffee or pick up a newspaper, you’ll quickly put all you’ve learned in class to good use – and measure your daily progress in leaps and bounds.

For 19 years, don Quijote, a leading provider of in-country Spanish language courses, has been exclusively dedicated to the teaching of Spanish to foreigners. Each year the company welcomes as many as 12,000 students from 60 countries to its schools in Salamanca, Madrid, Barcelona, Tenerife, Seville, Granada and Valencia in Spain, and Guanajuato, Mexico. The company’s website, http://www.donquijote.org, a Spanish language portal offering more than 70,000 pages of Spanish language resources, receives more than 35,000 visits daily.

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Erin Corcoran or Carmen Cantariño
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