Tip from a student:
Being able to communicate is more important than saying things perfectly.
Response from Caro:
I agree completely. Communication is the entire reason one learns a language, not to be able to rattle off perfect verb conjugations (because that would be weird).
That’s not to say that grammar doesn’t matter though. In the 9 years that I have been offering conversation classes I have noticed that 75% of students fall into 1 of 2 categories – either they’re very concerned about their grammar and they have a really hard time communicating, they communicate very slowly and often get stuck on one word OR they don’t care much about the grammar, which makes them difficult to understand due to the excessive mistakes, and often prevents them from advancing past the intermediate level.
The perfect scenario is someone who understands that communication takes priority over grammar, but that grammar plays a part in communicating properly.
So how does one achieve this wonderful balance?
- I would recommend to everyone that out of the 15 minutes they practice their Spanish 7 days a week, that 1-2 of those days are spent on grammar (or around 10-20% of your time outside of class should be spent on grammar).
- I would also recommend that ANYTIME you’re corrected in class, you go back and say it correctly instead of looking at your teacher and saying “uh-huh.” Repeating things correctly is how it becomes second nature. The more you repeat when corrected, the less time you will need to spend studying If you only follow one of these tips, this is the one I would recommend.
- Listening to Spanish is one of the most valuable tools out there. So many students don’t listen because they get frustrated that they can’t understand, but it’s incredibly important. This is how we learn new vocabulary, phrases and the right way to say things, again, without burying your head in a text book.
- Many of us are visual learners, so reading is extremely helpful because you get to see the vocabulary/grammar written out. Reading out loud is more valuable than reading silently.
So that’s it chicos. As with everything in life, finding the right balance between communication and grammar is import. But please remember that communication is definitely more important – without it perfect grammar is worthless.
One more thing :
- For those of you that are afraid to make mistakes: Next time you’re speaking to a foreigner, listen for mistakes. You will realize that many mistakes are made, but if you understand him/her without too much effort, that is what’s important – you don’t even care as long as you can understand them easily 🙂
- For those of you who don’t give any thought to grammar: Next time you’re speaking to a foreigner with a really heavy accent that makes a ton of mistakes, that you’re having a really hard time understanding, ask yourself if that could be you in Spanish and what you can do to remedy that 🙂