Have you ever noticed that the common errors we review at the end of class are often the same week after week? Why do you suppose this is? I have a few theories.
– Most of you, our Spanish students, are native English speakers, which means that until you learn to think in Spanish, you will be translating from English. This would explain a common error like saying “buscar por” when you want to say “to look for.” In Spanish “buscar” means “to look for,” therefore the “por” is not necessary, but since you’re translating from English, it’s a very common mistake.
– Another theory is that about half the grammar is quite different in Spanish and doesn’t have a direct English translation. It’s a challenge to learn to use the subjunctive for example, because 90% of the time that it’s used in Spanish, it’s not used in English. The Preterit vs Imperfect is another challenge because these tenses don’t translate literally 50% of the time.
I have many other theories, but they are irrelevant to the tip of the week, so I will only concentrate on this next one:
“They” say that it takes 8 – 20 times to learn something new, 16-17 times for the average person. That means that for the average Joe to stop saying “buscar por” and just saying “buscar,” he would need to be corrected 16ish times AND he would need to say it correctly 16ish times. On top of that you need to add time. If the 16ish corrections all come in a month, the chances of Joe correcting his mistake are much better than if they were made in a 5 year time period.
So this brings me to the Tip of the Week.
1 – Pick a common error that you made in class and it’s correction. Maybe it was “la problema” instead of “el problema” or using cuando to refer to the future without using the subjunctive, or saying “estoy caliente” instead of saying “tengo calor,” etc.
2 – Then write it correctly on a Post-It and put it on your bathroom mirror. For example:
– EL problema
– Cuando + EL SUBJUNTIVO (when referring to the future)
– TENGO CALOR (unless I’m horny, in which case it is “Estoy caliente” ☺)
3 – Every time you go in to the bathroom to wash your hands, pee, brush your teeth, whatever…come up with one sentence, using the correct grammar. If you do this for an entire week, you stop making this particular mistake. Imagine how much you could improve your Spanish if you took on one mistake per week…
So what’s on your Post-It this week?