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Language Tip #2: Writing

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Matt Kaplan is currently a Music Intern in Spain.  This is the third in a series of blog posts he’s written for us while there.  See the first entry here, and don’t miss Language Tip #1: Reading.

In my opinion, writing in your target language is just as important as speaking it.  Obviously different people have different goals when it comes to language learning but if you are like me, you want to learn as much as you possibly can.  Learning to write helps your vocabulary, sentence structuring abilities, and facilitates the learning curve of pronunciation.

So what are you going to write about?  It can be anything.  Anything from rewriting learned sentences from old grammar exercises to keeping a personal journal of current happenings in your life.  The most important thing I feel that I need to clarify for our 21st century lives is the fact that you literally need to write by hand. Typing (at least for me) doesn’t have the same effect as taking the time to write something out by hand.

Taking the time to learn how a language is written will strengthen many aspects of your knowledge.  For example, have you ever tried to speak a new word aloud and had trouble getting it right?  How exactly do you pronounce la aula, el perro, or trabajabais? Writing brings you a higher level of understanding within your new alphabet.  For example, if you don’t know that you need to roll your r’s for perro and not for pero (which means: but), you will come across a few difficulties trying to be understood.  This also helps you feel more confident in speaking words with written accent marks.  If you know that a word contains an accent mark and also know where it is, you should have no hesitation when trying to speak.  It’s all about the rhythm.

There are a handful of things you can write about in a way that is beneficial to your learning.  Again, like with anything you try to learn, you need to be realistic with where you are at with your language.  Although I have not personally tried this, I’ve heard that even simply writing down new vocabulary on post-it notes or flash cards goes along way.  The only reason I never sprung for this was because I didn’t feel like carrying around flash cards and post-it’s etc. everywhere I went.  For some people, flash cards are the only way to go!

>Try starting simple.  Grab a notebook or journal and maybe when you wake up you can practice your future tense and write a little bit about what you will do during the day.  In the evening after your day, do the opposite and work your past tense to explain what you have recently done.  I think that this method is more popular because it also gives you the chance to write out a funny story that happened to you or a problem you might have encountered.  More options for more language.

Those methods have all been tried before and they are certainly not my own ideas, but they do work.  One idea of my own I’d like to suggest is to write about your dreams.  This has not only forced me to think of new ways to express myself, but dreams are fascinating.  Wait until you start dreaming in your new language! Write down everything you remember.  Maybe you can decipher an entire story or maybe you can only describe a place or recall something that someone said to you.  Go for it!

I still practice these from time to time as I have honestly only been learning Spanish for about a year and a half now.  Although I feel as if I am fluent and have minimal problems with comprehension and speaking, there is ALWAYS room for improvement.  Heck, I’m sure even this English I’m writing now isn’t perfect, ya know?  That’s one of the beauties I’ve fallen in love with in learning a new language as an adult: you can always improve.  It’s humbling and we all need that from time to time as we float in and out of our comfort zones.  Thanks for reading and I hope this has been of some use to you all.


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