Whether you know ZERO Spanish or you are an advanced speaker, a little preparation can help you get the most out of our language program. One book that we recommend is "How to Be a Successful Language Learner", BY Joan Rubin and Irene Thompson, which is a full of good advice. Below are some pointers from "Centro Internacional de Idiomas":
Set Realistic Goals:
Learning another language isn't easy (for most of us); it takes time, practice and many mistakes. Go into a program with the goal of increasing your communication skills! Never assume that you are going to perfect the language in so many weeks or month, it's too much pressure!
Bolster Your Vocabulary:
If you are absolute beginner, get a phrase book (preferably with a tape to accompany it) and learn some basics for instants: "Please", ;Thank you", "Where is....."' "How much...", etc. Knowing these phrases and some hand gestures will get you bye in a crunch. For intermediate or advance speakers, we recommend learning as much vocabulary as possible before you go, common idioms. Your language instruction will focus mainly on grammar, conversation and listening. the more vocabulary you have going into the program the more ways you will get to apply the language. Our participants should bring a comprehensive dictionary (not only a pocket dictionary) and may want to consider a guide book that has a section listing local colloquialism.
Be Able to conjugated important verbs:
Learn to conjugated, COLD, those really important verbs like to wish/want "querer", to be able/can "poder", the two forms to be "ser" and "estar" and to go "ir" (this verb, plus "a" , plus the infinitive of any verb, gives you an instant future tense). this kinds of verbs conjugated in the present or past combined with infinitives instantly increased your ability to communicate. If you are an absolute beginner focus on "I" and "you" forms of the really important verbs.
Think the language:
Don't try to translate everything word for word. It doesn't work! You will drive yourself crazy looking for a Spanish word that just doesn't exist.
When in doubt, "Literature-ize":
This means try to use "larger" words. For example, need doesn't translate but necessity turn into "necesidad", requisite becomes "requisito" and exigency blossoms into "exigencia". Since this word sound vary similar, you will be understood.
Romance language are similar:
If you know another romance language you have a step up on learning Spanish. You already know the difference between the two "to know" words- "Conocer" and "Saber". You already learn the time distinctions- "vez", "hora" and "tiempo". Many words ending in "Y" like liberty will end with: "ad" in Spanish, "e" in French, "ade" in Portuguese or "a" in Italian. Similar, words ending in ion in English often sound alike and mean the same thing in Spanish.
Stay open minded:
The best tool for learning a language at any level is a good attitude. Understanding the culture helps language acquisition. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, they are great to learn from and can be funny too "a sense of humor really helps"
Tips on easing cultural adjustments
Whenever you study abroad, you experience some culture adjustment. However, when you are participating in a language emersion program, this cultural adjustment is normally greater because you are living with a family of strangers who don't speak our native language by immersing yourself in the culture, you will learn much more than vocabulary and verbs, you will learn how to communicate the four golden rules of an immersing program are as follow:
1- Standards of living vary:
Most of you are coming from a country with a higher standard of living where modern day convenience are taken for granted.
2- Keep your expectations realistic:
The number one reason for unsatisfactory experiences is unrealistic expectation. If you are unsure of something or have a special request, check with us. We'll give you a straight yes or no answer.
3- Respect your host:
If you are going to miss a meal, inform the Seņora, before she has cook the meal. If you will be out late, tell your family so they don't worry.
4- Take the differences in stride:
If everything were exactly the same as you are used to, where would the fun be? A few weeks or months with some inconvenience make you appreciate your own life in a different way. More important, think of all the great stories you'll have!
Enjoy your Spanish Program!