Here we give you some recommendations that would help you maintain your learning progress.
“Take your time and focus on improving your listening abilities while the pandemic lasts”
Watch movies or tv shows in Spanish with English/Spanish subtitles. If your level of Spanish is low, we would recommend that you use English subtitles at first.
Without much effort, you will start to acquire new vocabulary slowly, but most important, you will get used to listen to Spanish and identify sounds and words. One of the weakest abilities of students when they learn a new language is their listening skill. This skill can’t be improved easily even when having face-to-face lessons, so take your time and focus on improving your listening abilities while the pandemic lasts.
Don’t overuse learning apps like Duolingo. A lot of people get the wrong impression that by using these apps, they will be able to learn a new language from scratch. That is very far from reality.
Duolingo can help you gain some new useful vocabulary, and learning vocabulary is essential to master a new language. But apps like Duolingo will not help you to improve skills like speaking and listening, which are the essential ones when learning a new language.
Join online Spanish lessons via Zoom. Although online lessons are not as effective as face-to-face ones, you shouldn’t stop learning.
We advise you to either have private classes with a native teacher or if you have a limited budget, join a small group of 2-4 students. Indeed, you will not progress as fast but if you stop learning for an extended period not only you will not improve your level of Spanish, but you will go backwards and start to forget what you learned!
Read books in Spanish. If you are already at an intermediate level, reading will help you to keep fresh and solidify all the vocabulary that you have learned in the past, and you will also slowly learn new words.
We don’t recommend you to read a book using a dictionary and checking every word that you don’t know. You will spend too much time on each page, and you will lose the storyline and interest in the book. Just read and try to guess the meaning of the sentences even you don’t fully understand every word.
If you feel entirely lost, it likely means you are not ready for that level, and you can find online books that are written for beginner students.
Revise your Spanish grammar. It is well known that Spanish grammar is complicated. Each tense has different conjugations with a different list of irregular verbs and exceptions that are always hard to remember, but you need to know for your daily communication. Take the time to revise these so that you will have them fresher in your head when you need to use them in your speaking or writings.
Finally, remember learning a language is a long term project that takes time, do it bit by bit without rushing, and the most important thing is regular practice and to maintain your motivation and interest to keep learning in the long run.
About the author
David Cornado Muste is the director of The Spanish Cultural Association of Hong Kong. He has been a Spanish teacher for 10 years and graduated from the University of Warwick in the UK and the University Rovira i Virgili in Spain.