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.

Advertisements

Their English & My Spanish

pexels-photo-880776.jpeg

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.

What’s that noise?

What’s that noise?

I was relaxing with my fiancé one day and I notice a couple of loud POPS coming from far away in the distance. I was thinking to myself ‘What are those loud noises??? It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, surely it can’t be fireworks…… it’s far too early for that…. what could it be….

….oh….. maybe it’s gunshots….?!?!’

I am in Mexico after all, where the narcos and cartels are rife. I began thinking ‘Oh god I hope there are no shootings happening, it definitely is an unsafe place if shootings are happening in a tourist city in the middle of the day!’

So I ask my fiancé what the loud noises are. He simply says that they are fireworks.

FIREWORKS??? Why at this time? How the hell can they see them in the sky during the day time?

So I ask him and he explains that many people here celebrate different saints and what not, so these fall on different days and they celebrate them during the day time!

Ohhh…. now I get it. My head was thinking all sorts! I must say it’s a bit weird celebrating with fireworks during the day, but I’d much rather harmless celebrations then the other option!

So now when I hear those loud POPS I needed worry! It’s a religious celebration!

Aisling

Film Week

Film Week

Because last week was Halloween, I decided to stick on the film ‘Goosebumps’ for my students to watch. I remember seeing it a while back and thinking it was fun and exciting, so I was pretty confident that my students would enjoy it. Aside from the beginning, there is always something exciting happening throughout, so I thought this film would engage the students. And thankfully they all enjoyed it!

We were able to download it with English subtitles and Chinese, so even the one’s with non-existent English can watch it.

Because my classes are 90 minutes long, I spent two weeks watching the film with them. The University doesn’t condone watching a movie for the whole lesson, I split it into two weeks. After they watched the film, I made up a quiz about it and we did that for the next 45 minutes. Some of the questions were easy and some of them were just a little more difficult. Overall I think they enjoyed it and the quiz. For the group who got the most points, they would not get any homework next week, so that was a bit of incentive for them to try! (Although some were still lazy and didn’t bother at all during the quiz)

Plus, having a movie week makes my life much easier teaching wise. It’s hard to teach when I know a lot of them don’t care what I say or show them, so sometimes I do get quite annoyed. Why should I try when they don’t try? But I suppose I can just carry on with what I’m doing and it’s up to them if they either want to pass or fail the class.

Other teachers here have also expressed their feeling about their students, so sometimes we have a big rant about our students and how lazy they are. But at least I’m not the only one that feels this way. I feel like I’m a bad teacher and my lesson’s aren’t interesting enough, so when I hear other teachers saying the exact same thing as me, then I feel a bit better at least! Or we’re all bad teachers!

I know some teachers just play games with them, but to me, I’m a teacher. I’m supposed to teach them things that they will remember. That’s what I think anyway!

This is my 9th week teaching and sometimes it really does feel like I’ve been here for years and years already. And I feel I haven’t taught them anything in those 9 weeks. When I was teaching in a private company, you could see the improvement of each of my students, and that gave me a lot of gratification. Here though, I feel that everything I say goes in one ear and out the other.

I don’t think I’ve seen 1 student take any notes of what I was talking about in class. I’ve told them before to take notes, but it’s like talking to rocks. I should keep at them but at the end of the day they aren’t children; they are 17 and 18 year olds. They should know by now.

But yeah, the two weeks watching the film and doing the quiz is a great relaxing class for both me and the students.

I hate to wonder what they will be like when film week is over and proper class starts again….?

Maybe I’ll stick on another film….. and definitely be a bad teacher!

Aisling

All The Blank Faces

All The Blank Faces

I’ve been teaching in my current job 4 weeks now, and generally it’s going ok. This can’t be said for some of my students though! I’ve said it once, and I’m going to keep saying it until I finish working here; but sometimes it feels like I’m teaching rocks.

Honestly, it’s like trying to get blood out of a stone with some of these kids. With the exception of two great classes, most of the time when I’m teaching, all I see is a wall of blank, emotionless faces.

It’s pretty hard to get my students motivated to do anything.

“OK STUDENTS, WHICHEVER TEAM WINS THIS GAME WILL GET NO HOMEWORK!!!”

Nothing…..

No excitement whatsoever occurs. Faces are still blank.

They must really enjoy homework if that’s the case!

So yeah, some students just are very unmotivated to participate in class.

Unlike the rest of the world, Chinese students aren’t encouraged to think creatively and outside the box. They are made to remember large volumes of texts and that’s it. So when I get them to do an activity that needs them to think individually and be creative; a lot of them just can’t do it.

‘wo bu hui….wo bu hui” 我不会。 They keep repeating to me “I can’t do it”. I say to them “You can do it! You just need to think about it more”.

For this particular task, we were studying personality words like timid, hard working….. After learning the words, I asked a few students to come up to the top of the class where i would give them a word and they have to act it out. They cannot speak, so they have to use their bodies to explain their word. Then the other students need to guess what word they have.

Easy peasy. They don’t even have to speak! Wrong. Most of them couldn’t do it. Give them an easy one ‘funny’. In my mind for this one, you simply pretend to laugh. But for them, they are getting nervous just thinking about how to do it. They are thinking and thinking about how to do it, until they ask for another one.

“Another one?? How will you do the others  when you can’t even do funny??”

So that activity was too difficult for them. I explained to them that you need to be more creative in class. In my class, speaking is key, but in order to speak they need to be able to think of things to say.

Then there are students that can’t speak whatsoever. ‘Hello” is the most they can say. It’s difficult trying to teach students with such a different level in each class, so I’m trying to teach basic English, more advanced English, plus for the students to be more creative in class.

But anyway, I don’t really expect to teach the students much English. Their English is just too basic, and a lot of them aren’t interested in learning it. All I care about is them trying in class. I told them “I don’t mind if your English is wrong, just try. That’s all I want. Even if you say one sentence… that’s great. You tried”. Thing is, many don’t want to try.

So when I’m trying my hardest to engage the students and all I see is a wall of emotionless faces, it really demotivates me to try and teach them. I try very hard to get them interested and they just stare up at me. Sometimes I feel I need to be a comedian in order to get anything out of them!

I have two classes and they are great, so I don’t mind teaching those. They are a little older and they generally seem more interested. So those classes are great. But overall, I really don’t think I could stay another year here trying to teach robots.

再见

爱玲 Aisling

 

Spur Of The Moment Decision

Spur Of The Moment Decision

After a spur of the moment, I’ve decided to book flights home to Ireland. Being away for 2 months, I will definitely miss my fiancé while I’m away. Unfortunately he’ll be staying in Chengdu for that time.

I think it’ll be a nice break from each other though. The only time we’ve been apart was when he went travelling with his sister for a week. It’s not that we need a break or we are getting fed up of each other. We have a great relationship.  Just a little time with my family without him will be nice! Plus it’ll make us appreciate each other more while I’m away!

As I still have no job, my thought was ‘well I’m not tied to work or anything at the moment, so this would be the best time to go and visit.’ Plus, If I don’t go home now,  god knows when I’ll be back. I miss my nephews and my sister a lot, and I know they can’t come here to visit.

I’m looking forward to visiting home; enjoying Mums food, catching up with friends, my sister, playing with my nephews. Even sleeping in my old room!

I would have booked flights just for a month, but because it was such late notice, the cheapest flights back to Chengdu aren’t until the end of August. And the cheapest leaving are only at the end of June. At least I won’t miss out on my last few weeks of studying. Only 3 weeks!

Another reason why I think it’s a good time to go home is because I have a few things to sort out at home, eg wedding info, bank things….. so I can sort all that out while there!

I don’t really have the money for visiting, but I suppose my family outweighs my financial concerns. When you’re away, you realise how important your family is, and how much you miss them… so I don’t mind paying for the flights to visit.

So as I’ll be away for 2 months, I will expect my Chinese level to go down… but…. I will definitely try and keep on studying! I know it’s all well and good saying that, but I really need to concentrate on my Chinese this summer. As I plan on moving up to Level 7, I need to make sure my level is up to par.

So that’s what my summer will entail!

再见

爱玲

Re-watching KungFu Panda 3 In Chinese: 1 Year On

Re-watching KungFu Panda 3 In Chinese: 1 Year On

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about our experience going to the cinema and watching Kung Fu Panda 3… all in Chinese. We didn’t realise it was the Chinese version of the film until it started! You can check out my blog about it here:A Cinematic Surprise

Anyway, I said in my post that I would try and watch it again in one year and see how much more I could understand of it. So we successfully found the film on a Chinese website and we decided to watch it. And low and behold, I could understand about 60% of it!!!

This time round, I understood the storyline, most of the conversations and pretty much all of the jokes! The first time, I really had no idea what the storyline was about, and why the antagonist was so obsessed with finding Po. I didn’t understand pretty much any jokes, and I could only understand the gist of a sentence by a word I knew, such as ‘food’.

During the second time I watched it, I realised there were quite a few words which came up in the film were words that I have just learned in this semester of class!

The film also had Chinese subtitles so we can read the Chinese characters as we listen. I think pretty much every TV programme, film or drama will have Chinese subtitles. I think it’s because some older people actually have never learned the common Chinese language Mandarin; they have just been brought up learning their local dialect. So it makes it easier for them to understand what’s going on in the show. (I think this is the reason why, but I’m not 100% of it!)

But anyway, it was great seeing how much Chinese I’ve picked up in a year, and how I can actually understand the story! Now my speaking is still atrocious, but at least this shows me I’m improving in some area at least!

So I have to say I’m very proud of myself that I can understand this film now. It’s not a very difficult film with regards to the conversations and the words in it, but it’s a stepping stone at least.

I’ll have to find something else to watch and then in another year I’ll re-watch it and see how much I’ve improved.

再见

爱玲