Things That I Do To Study Spanish

Things That I Do To Study Spanish

Duolingo

Who doesn’t use Duolingo when learning a language. I’m nearly finished my tree but I keep forgetting to do it everyday, so I need to stick with this one more. But it’s a good starting point for learning.

Youtube videos

There are quite a few videos on how to learn Spanish, but I particularly enjoy the channel ‘WhyNotSpanish’. She is really nice and she explains things clearly and simply. I really enjoy her channel.

whynotspanish

Another channel I watch is Extra en Español. A Spanish tv show for  learners. It’s a bit cringe-worthy sometimes but it’s useful for your listening!

extraspanish

Irish Leaving Cert Spanish Past Papers

For my Leaving Cert in Ireland, I studied French (which I totally forget). These exam papers are the important exams for entry to University. You have ordinary level (which is a lower level) and higher level. Here they have stories that you read, fill in the questions, and then you have an email/ letter you must write.

You can find the website here; Leaving Certificate Sample Spanish Papers

So on the Ordinary level which I’m doing now, for the email/ letter which you have to write, what I do is first say it to my fiancé. He will help me fix any mistakes. So I will practice saying it aloud a few times, then I will write it down. I think this is useful for me.

Sample Spanish books on Kindle

I really enjoy learning Spanish by reading. Before going to sleep I would usually try and read a few pages of a Spanish book that I have in my Kindle. There are lots of spanish books on Amazon, but of course you need to pay for them. But I figured out I could simply download a  free sample of whatever book I wanted, then I could read and practice using the samples. Sometimes they give quite a few pages of the book, so that keeps me going with my reading practice!

Speaking with my fiancé

I try and talk with him everyday in Spanish, and when we are on the bus going somewhere. But of course we always revert back to English!

Anki Flashcards

I used Anki flashcards for when I was learning Chinese, and it proved quite useful. For spanish, I use Anki and a method for learning languages. I will explain it.

For Nouns, first I will write the alphabet A-Z. I will have two of these. One will be for men, another for women.

So for example, the word government, el govierno.  El is going to be for male. So all nouns that begin with el will be male. All with la will be female.

Ok, so for el gobierno, what I do is think of a male with the name beginning with G, because gobierno begins with G. I think of George Clooney.

Now I need to think of an image of George doing something related to government. I picture him in my head holding a placard with the words ‘Shut your gob you government!’. (In Ireland people sometimes say ‘Shut your gob’ to someone to stop talking’).

So I try and remember that scene until it’s easy to remember. Then when I see the word ‘el gobierno’ I can picture George Clooney holding the placard and shouting!

I’ll give you another one. La bufanda. Scarf.

I picture Beyonce holding a scarf and saying BOO to all her fans. So Boo to her fans. La Bufanda!

This is a good way to memorise words. I’ve only started doing this so I’ll see in a few weeks if I’ve retained any of these words!

Also for verbs, because they don’t have a gender, I just choose a fictional character and do exactly as I done with nouns.

I think this method of learning is called the ‘Marilyn Method’.

My problem now is that I lose motivation sometimes, and then I spend a few days not learning anything. Plus when I’m working the last thing I want to learn is study! So I need to try and practice everyday!

Aisling.

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Their English & My Spanish

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I’ve been dabbling in Spanish for the past few months, but I’ve only really been putting an extra effort in it since I came back from Mexico. I can have a basic conversation and I say I’m about A2 right now. I can understand more than what I can say. So I think I’m gradually getting better with it! I don’t think my pronunciation is bad, but I need to learn the conjugations and what not. Plus increase my vocab.

As I teach English to Chinese students, I’ve been meeting up with every student and asking them “Where are you from?” “Where do you want to visit in China?” “What country do you want to visit?” and ” What do you do in your free-time?”.

Simple enough questions. But I noticed that so many of my students have atrocious English! Some of them don’t even understand “Where are you from?”.

I actually realised that I can speak better Spanish than they can speak English…… and they have been learning English since they were 4 years old!

I understand English is similar to Spanish, but these kids have been learning it since they were little. They really should be more fluent. Plus many, if not all of my students get basic tenses wrong. they would say ‘She get’, ‘Yesterday I go….’

Like this is very basic grammar, but yet they struggle. In Chinese they don’t have tenses. So for ‘I eat’ is ‘Wo chi’/ 我吃.

‘I ate’ is ‘Wo chi le’/ 我吃了.

You add ‘le’ 了 and it changes to past. So there is no conjugation needed in Chinese. So I do understand that changing tenses and what not is difficult for them, but come on, it’s not as if they only started learning English!

I think a huge part is how they are taught it at school. They are made to learn long boring passages in English from their books, and it’s just not useful for them. They don’t do enough/or any speaking in class, and they focus too much on grammar. So the way they are taught doesn’t exactly help them.

Plus many just don’t want to learn English. They don’t plan on leaving China, so why should they bother? Personally I think they are crazy; they are wrapped in their own bubble here and they have no interest in exploring the world. They are taught that China is best…. so why would they want to leave that?

Many know that English is important, I’ve asked them. They all say “It’s an international language and it’s very important to learn”…… but many just don’t learn it.

So when I compare my Spanish to my students’ English, I’m definitely progressing faster than them!

Aisling.

Learning Spanish With ‘Duolingo’

Learning Spanish With ‘Duolingo’

After finishing up my last semester learning Chinese and starting a job, I’ve put Chinese to the side for the moment. Having become increasingly frustrated with how little I’ve learnt so far, I’ve decided to move onto Spanish for a while. Plus I have my own private Spanish tutor living with me which definitely helps!

I had a go at learning Spanish before, but I quickly realised that it was just too difficult to concentrate on two languages at the same time. But now I’ve really put more effort into learning the basics of Spanish, and so far I’m doing ok.

I’ve been using Duolingo, and overall it’s pretty good. There are some problems in how they teach it, but I’m getting the basics right and although I guess some answers, usually they are correct! So something is working!

In order to improve my pronunciation, I try and mimic the Spanish recordings until I get it right, this way I can sound more native like and also It’ll help me to practice speaking in Spanish.

What I need to do now is get my fiancé to speak Spanish to me all the time. The problem with that though is that because I’m only at a basic level, he really needs to dumb everything down. Maybe when my level is higher then he can do that with me. At the moment If I’ve any problems with grammar or what not, then I ask him and he tries to explain it to me.

But of course the Chinese grammar that I’ve learned creeps in sometimes.

For example, there was a sentence like ‘ I talk with my father’

So in my head I reverted back to my Chinese grammar and how I would say it in Chinese using the Chinese sentence structure: ‘I with my father talk’

So I start saying in Spanish “Yo con mi padre hablo”

My fiancé looks at me and says “No……Aisling that’s not right. Say it again.”

So I say again, wondering what’s wrong with my sentence.

“Aisling you are using the Chinese sentence structure. Just say it like you would in English!”

Ohhh….. I never even realised! I just naturally translated it into the way I would have said it in Chinese. Also, when he speaks to me in Spanish, I automatically think of the answer in Chinese, so it’ll take me a little while to get used to switching from Chinese mode to Spanish!

But anyway, I’m glad I started using Duolingo; it’s good for beginners and it gives a good foundation on the language.

Plus it’s free!

Aisling.

Being Conned By A Taxi Man

Being Conned By A Taxi Man

I have been quite lucky in the fact that I haven’t been scammed; you hear in Beijing about people being scammed when they meet a student looking to ‘practice their English with you’ and you both go to a teahouse to drink tea. Then suddenly the bill comes and the tea is at an extortionate price. Obviously the ‘student’ and the teahouse are in this together, and they force the foreigner to pay.

This is quite a well known scam that most people going to Beijing should have heard about. But in Chengdu, I’ve never encountered a scam….

That was until 2 weeks ago…

When my boyfriends parents were here, we decided to go for some Beijing Duck. It’s a little far from our place, so we decided to hail a taxi to get there; costing 20元. About 4/5euro.

After our meal, we caught another taxi and away home we went. Every taxi has a meter, and usually it begins at 8元 and continues from that price.. I think it is based on every kilometre you drive… and it increases by 1yuan.

So naturally we presumed it would be around the 20元 mark. As we were driving, I happened to look at the metre…… 30元!!??

We were still not home… but it was already at this high price! I kept looking at it and the metre suddenly jumped another 2 yuan in a matter of 10 seconds.

‘That’s definitely not right’ I thought. It’s broken.

Then, to make things worse, I didn’t spot any information about the taxi man in the car. No card or details about him… You always see details of the driver on the dashboard. Definitely a dodgy taxi.

It was then when my boyfriend noticed the metre. He asked him why is it so expensive? And the taxi man didn’t reply.

Then, out of nowhere, he starts blabbering in Chinese to him. Huh…. throughout the whole ride home he never said a word…. and it was only until my boyfriend mentioned the price that he started talking.

He asked where we were from and how long have we lived in China. When we said 3 years… I’m pretty sure he copped on and thought ‘Oh no, these guys actually live here…. so they know rightly well that this metre is rigged…. well I can’t do anything about it now…’

So when we arrived home… the metre ended up at 45 元!!! What a ripoff!

He stopped the taxi and we immediately said that’s far too expensive… his reply was ‘You are foreigners!!’ 

And??? Just because we are foreigners doesn’t mean you have the right to rip us off. Obviously he doesn’t care about showing Chinese hospitality to ‘us foreigners’.

So we went back and forth with him about not paying and we settled it at 25元。 A much more satisfactory price.

I keep on wondering how he did it though; did he click a button when he saw us and thats when the metre changed? Or is the metre like that for everybody who uses it?

I didn’t know that type of thing existed. It looked like a normal taxi to us.

And apparently these fake taxis are becoming more and more common, as one student in our class said he got into 3 of these fake ones in the last year.

Thankfully we rarely take taxis, only taking them for the convenience of my boyfriends Mum and Dad being here.

But, it goes to show that these are about. In future, we will look at the dashboard and make sure there is correct information about the driver before we step into the car.

We certainly learned to be more cautious!

再见

爱玲

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Because teaching here in China has now become ‘normal’ and well, not terribly exciting, I’ve kind of neglected to write more posts about it. But I’ll write an update about how it’s going.

At the moment I have about 10 groups who I teach. Although when I go back full time It will increase. Thankfully, everyone (apart from one group) are fantastic. My youngest are aged about 6/7 I think, while my oldest is 14. My youngest are learning phonics, so for me it’s quite an easy class, plus for them they enjoy it because they don’t have to actually learn English vocab and grammar, just how to say the words.

I’ve had one student for over 2 years now I think, and she moved with me to my new campus from my old one. Her English has improved really quickly! From 2 years ago to now I really do notice her improvement. Now I’m not saying that’s all because of me… but she’s the student I’ve had the longest, so I see the most improvement in her. She’s the one that keeps calling me ‘fat’ (huh and she’s the one that talks about food in class all the time) but overall she is a great student.

My not so great group is with two boys. The two boys that I used to have got split up, so now I teach them separately, but now the oldest boy has been paired with another boy…. and unfortunately the group isn’t so good anymore.

Now my old student ‘S’ has become much more disobedient! It really annoys me because I know that his behaviour used to be good, and I enjoyed teaching him and the other student. But since ‘T’ has joined, he has affected ‘S’s behaviour in class. It’s such a pity, because I know ‘S’ is a good student; I’ve seen it. But unfortunately this other boy is effectively ruining his learning in class.

If it continues I think I might tell ‘S’ that his behaviour isn’t good anymore… shame him a bit about this fact. I know he’s a good boy underneath it all.

But anyway, I’ve recently had a 21 year old studying with me for a few weeks. She is not resigning so I only have her a few more times. She is studying to do an English test, but the way it’s going, I don’t think she will pass. Her vocabulary just isn’t good enough, plus I feel like she isn’t very motivated. haha I can say the same for myself with Chinese sometimes!

In my opinion, it’s a shame that she isn’t resigning again, she really needs extra English classes to improve. I really can’t see her studying by herself.

But she is a nice and friendly student though, and I enjoy teaching her.

Company wise, it definitely need more improvements. Especially with Chinese PA’s… they are dropping like flies in our campus. The PA that has been with us the longest has just left as she hated her job, so I’m pretty sure every other PA has only been with us for a few months.

It’s coming to the stage where I don’t even try and remember their names, as most likely they will leave soon enough. It’s pretty sad though; the company treats teachers with good pay, holidays and two days off a week, whereas PA’s aren’t paid a lot, they only get 1 day off a week, and they have to put up with a lot of crap from parents AND from teachers complaining. So I’m really not surprised that so many quit.

Unless all the PA’s decide to revolt and protest, I don’t think much will change, especially if they don’t want to ‘lose face’, a strange Chinese phenomenon.

If you have never heard of this, have a look at the link below for some information about it!

‘Losing Face’ in China

再见

爱玲

Tackling Spanish

Tackling Spanish

For the past 1.5 years my head has been tortured with learning Chinese… now I’m not saying I don’t enjoy learning it, of course I do… just sometimes you need a break from all those thousands of characters once in a while!

Since meeting my boyfriend and visiting Mexico and his family, I’ve become more and more interested in learning Spanish. In Secondary school and Uni I chose to study French instead of Spanish, so I’ve literally had to start from the basics with Spanish. haha now that my French has completely disappeared, (not that there was much in the first place) I don’t think I’ll have any trouble mixing the two languages up!

I’ve started using an application called Anki, where it makes flashcards and what not for you… I’ve been using it for my Chinese also, but to be honest it’s very hard to use,for me anyway, it’s a bit too technical! I’ve ended up having to delete my whole Spanish deck of words and download it again, as I messed with the cards and didn’t know how to rectify it. So it does take some time to get used to and know how to use it properly.

In comparison to Chinese… I must say I remember the vocab much easier in Spanish. No characters to learn, no tones… just a straight up spanish word and thats it!

My pronunciation needs work on though, as I still pronounce letters like in English.. oh and the ‘r’ sound still annoys me.

And because my head is also in ‘Chinese mode’, whenever I see a Spanish phrase like ‘Does he want a t-shirt?’ and I need to think a second for the answer, instinctively the Chinese translation of it will enter my head.

But I have to say, when comparing the two languages.. I really do appreciate some things about Chinese. The grammar isn’t as tricky as say English or Spanish. There are no conjugations or gender specific words. The language is also a bit more concise.

What I also enjoy about Chinese are how words are literally translated:

fridge = ice box (bing  xiang/冰箱)

computer = electric brain (dian nao/ 电脑)

yogurt = sour milk (suan nai/酸奶)

And don’t get me started on the literal translations of animals!

dolphin = sea piglet (hai tun/海豚)

kangaroo= bag mouse (dai shu/ 袋鼠)

giraffe= long neck deer ( chang jing lu/ 长颈鹿)

These are just a few of the interesting translations!

I think every person studying Chinese gets a laugh when they find out the translation of different things in Chinese!

But anyway, back to Spanish!

As I’ve only been studying for about a week now, I know I’ve only barely touched the surface of this language. When I start to learn the grammar properly and the conjugations is when I might begin to tear my hair out!

Having had a week off from Uni, I’ve been studying more Spanish recently, so I’ll have to try and stick with it when Monday comes.

It’s nice though to be able to switch with the two languages…. I can have a break with Chinese but not feel bad, because I’ll be learning Spanish… I won’t feel lazy because I’m still technically learning!

So I suppose Chinese and Spanish has their own merits and why I like them!

再见

爱玲

The Way I Speak

Since moving away from home, teaching English and meeting my boyfriend… I have found out words and phrases that I’ve commonly used back home have slowly been disappearing….and instead, I’ve began to think in a more ‘American’ way.

First of all, the books that I teach my students with are full of American words like ‘trash can’. Then my boyfriend has also learned American English.  So these are both influences.

There are tonnes of words and phrases that people in Ireland use quite regularly, like ‘grand’ ‘shite’ ‘Mam instead of Mum/Mom, the phrase ‘I’m after (doing something)’. ‘Giving out (to someone)’ We also say ‘yous’ instead of ‘you all’.

Of course my students will definitely not understand me if I say any of these!

What’s worse is when I am with my boyfriend I start thinking American English. For us ‘pavement/ footpath’ is ‘sidewalk’… so in my head, when I see someone walking on the street, now I automatically think ‘Oh they should be walking on the sidewalk!’

Then I think ‘Oh no… FOOTPATH!! I MEANT FOOTPATH!’

Instead of saying ‘crisps’ for things like Lays…I sometimes say ‘chips’.

And during teaching, I’ve given up saying the word ‘sweets’ and just say ‘candy’ now… they don’t know the meaning of ‘sweets’, and they always forget when I tell them anyway.

And actually, the same goes for my boyfriend now!

Because we spend a lot of time together and he listens to me everyday….. he sometimes has blurted out ‘Mam’ instead of ‘Mom’, ‘tree’ instead of ‘three’ and now he is saying ‘crisps’ instead of ‘chips’!!

I’ve also noticed some phrases that I commonly use which he has picked up on… like ‘Did yeh?’ I’ve also think that he has lost some of the American pronunciation of some words like ‘matter’.

It’s strange how it all works!

For me, I suppose my speaking is changing because firstly, I don’t meet any other Irish people, so I’m not continuously hearing my own native accent. Second, I’m constantly aware of my voice and if for example I say in my native accent ‘brown’.. my students won’t understand me… so I have to change how I say some words so they understand.

Lastly, my boyfriend speaks American English, so I’ve become used to hearing certain words more than others from him.

haha whats worse though is that I feel my English speaking has gotten worse. I forget certain words in English and some of my grammar gets mixed up. I don’t know why.. but I think it’s to do with the fact that I am constantly listening to non-natives speaking grammatically wrong English… maybe some of that bad English gets stuck in my head!! Also there are words in English that I rarely use anymore. In Ireland I would hear them more often so I would remember them. But here… at work I hear the same English spoken over and over again.

Well, I HOPE those reasons are true… or else I have no idea why my English is getting worse.

It’s funny how your accent changes with different environments and who you are with. I just hope that when the time comes to head home to Ireland, my Irish words and phrases will come flooding back to me!

再见

爱玲