As you all know, conversation classes are designed to improve your communication skills. This means that approaching it like a traditional Spanish class, is not going to give you the optimal results.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your Spanish conversation class:
- Repeat when corrected
- Avoid speaking English
- Listen when others are speaking – stay present
- Take the opportunity to use new vocabulary and grammar constructions
- Allow yourself to make mistakes
- Take notes (but not excessively)
- Repeat when corrected: Since you’re not doing a bunch of writing exercises when you take a conversation class, if you want to improve your grammar, the only way to improve it is by repeating corrections. Saying “yeah, that” when a teacher corrects you, does nothing for your grammar or to help you learn new vocabulary 😦
- Avoid speaking English: The point of a conversation class is to help you learn to communicate in your target language, in this case, Spanish. Reverting to English because you get excited about telling your story or frustrated because you can’t find the words, will not help you learn to communicate effectively in Spanish. Try speaking around it – for example, if you do not know how to say “desechable (disposable)” – you can say that it’s something that can be thrown away after being used, like a tissue or paper towel.
- Listen when others are speaking – stay present : So often we are so focused on taking notes or thinking about what we’re going to say, that we don’t pay attention when others are speaking. Communication is an exchange of thoughts, which means that you need to pay attention when others are speaking so that you can participate in the conversation and learn from your classmates (btw, it’s amazing how much you can learn from others in a group environment).
- Take the opportunity to use new vocabulary and grammar constructions: When you hear something new, using it is the best way to learn it. If you can squeeze it back into conversation a few times, it will stick. If you say it once, not so much 😦
- Allow yourself to make mistakes: Let’s face it, most people who learn a foreign language do not speak it perfectly. As a matter of fact, most of us make mistakes in our native language! Making mistakes means that you’re putting yourself out there and learning to communicate. Trying to speak perfectly all the time is exhausting, it slows you down tremendously and it takes the joy out of the process. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to speak well or throw grammar out the window. I’m simply saying that trying to achieve perfection is not the goal. Apart from that, if you’re going to make mistakes and learn from your mistakes, this is the place to do it. There is no need to be embarrassed. All of the students in your class are going through the learning process as well, not to mention that English is a 2nd language for all of your teachers.
- Take notes (but not excessively): Taking notes the entire time does not allow you to be present in the conversation. But taking the right amount of notes helps ingrain new vocabulary and grammar. If you are exposed to 50 new words per class, maybe write down the 20 most relevant to you.
Now you’re ready to be successful in your Spanish conversation class!