By Katherine Sandler
Apart from class, other environments you frequent may lack stimulants or triggers to keep learning Spanish alive. While at home, work or online, you can enhance your environment to complement your Spanish studying by increasing your vocabulary and knowledge of idioms and meanings. Below are some ways to alter your environments—online and off—that will help increase your Spanish vocabulary arsenal and challenge you to adapt to and understand new language surroundings.
We’ve all got a slew of digital devices, so the main thing to focus on with them is the support language. On your phone, laptop, computer, smart speakers and so forth you can enable which language you’d like the device to display and/or speak. For phone and tablet devices, some preloaded and downloaded apps will automatically change to Spanish while others will stay in English or the original language settings. For some applications, you will have to manually change the support language.
If you’re able to, change language settings on applications you use on your devices. Just by changing your phone language setting doesn’t mean it will translate to each app. You may have to go in individually to see if the option is available to switch to a language. You can do this for social media apps, like Instagram. You can change language settings on bank apps to Spanish either through the app or via the website when logged in.
For social media, consider switching the language to display in Spanish. This will work for major social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. By changing your language settings on these social apps to Spanish you’ll start familiarizing yourself with words that are ubiquitous in our digital world. Words like username, password, account settings, privacy as well as post, like, message or comment are important words to recognize and know when communicating online.
Follow Instagram hashtags like #learnSpanish. Once you follow them, you will see visual content written in Spanish pop up in your feed in the form of quotes, notes on grammar and conjugations and memes. Just start typing in a word to the search bar and possible hashtags will pop up for you to peruse and possibly follow.
If you would like to practice typing in Spanish, change your keyboard language settings. On iOS devices, they allow you to activate multiple keyboards, meaning you can switch between English and Spanish with ease while texting or emailing.
Flashcards or index cards can be used to study words anywhere you go. A massive stack can be intimidating, so build smaller stacks that focus on a theme of words. You can have a pile of cards set aside by the television, in the drawer or linen closet that you can proactively run through when a certain trigger is met. For instance, create a deck of cards for all types of furniture and have yourself recite that deck when you enter the kitchen. Another example would be to review a list of animals during commercial breaks when watching a show.
Use sticky notes and post them on furniture or walls to learn the Spanish equivalents. Stick notes on the door with verbs and make yourself recite conjugations before you leave. Post some on the refrigerator and make sentences as if you had magnets of all the letters in the alphabet. Another use of the sticky notes is to post them on the inside or outside of cabinet doors. Before you go into the cupboard recite the words of common spices or other ingredients. Write the word on your stickies and post it on the outside of the cupboard or drawer if you barely know the word. Post the sticky on the inside of the cupboard if you want more of a challenge or if you want to keep your place orderly and not littered with handwritten notes. You can also choose to write the words in Spanish or English to add to the level of difficulty
Use your surroundings
Practice saying numbers and words while you’re out and about. Look at street numbers and recite the number in Spanish. As you pass by shops, look at what is in the windows and iterate to yourself what the Spanish equivalents are. Many of the stores you’ll pass will have food, furniture, colors and clothes, so you’ll be able to memorize the basics fast.
Learning language vocabulary doesn’t have to be boring and uncreative. There are plenty of ways to create a learning environment that doesn’t take up a lot of time and promotes understanding and retention. Play games, make memorizing interactive and infuse the language into your everyday to help you retain faster.
Katherine Sandler is a former student at Berges.