(Original post by Bantersaur12)
I started at Manchester Uni in September and have been taking German and Spanish. My German is A-Level standard and is enough for the time being to let me achieve roughly 70 percent grades, which I am happy with.
However, Spanish is letting me down, I got 41.5% on my recent test in week 9 - the average was 58% - and I have an oral exam next week. I do study by learning vocabulary, and looking over the verb tables. But I never really feel like anything goes in. As reflected by my results.
How do I learn Spanish efficiently and quickly enough that I can keep up with the tests. And also, is this low of a score to be expected in the first year, or am I doing badly? And how can I improve my Spanish by the time of the oral?
If the average score is as low as 58%, then clearly low scores are pretty normal and I shouldn't think you need to get into a panic about things just yet. But clearly you need to do something to get your scores up to a better level.
To improve oral Spanish quickly - try talking to yourself in Spanish as you are going about your daily life. Have conversations with yourself (out loud if possible) as you cook a meal or are standing under the shower, for example. This puts you firmly in control of the conversation and you will find that your confidence increases. Don't necessarily practise whatever you're meant to be talking about in the exam at this stage; just verbalise what is going through your head - "Qué bestia, olvidé de comprar cebollas, qué voy a hacer? Ya lo sé, voy a tomar los heuvos y prepararé une tortilla. Qué más necesito para una tortilla?" and so on. The more you are able to do this during the day, the more progress you will make.
For vocab, verbs, etc.: basically, if you're learning the vocab and verbs and you're getting the impression that things are not going in, then you need to adapt your learning technique. I don't know how you learn best as everybody's different. Here are a few ideas for you to try:
- "Make it your own" by writing out sentences incorporating the vocabulary and tenses you are learning;
- Put the verbs / vocabulary to music if you are musical - singing can be a really good learning technique for musicians;
- Do your learning out loud so you hear yourself;
- Write everything out (this is cumbersome but it is the only way I can ever learn anything myself!), several times if need be.
The key to learning vocab and verb conjugations is repetition. There is an app called ANKI (https://apps.ankiweb.net/
) which you might find helpful - it's open source and therefore free. If you don't like learning from computer screens then you can adapt the ANKI system by following the technique below, which you can also adapt for learning conjugations.
Spaced Repetition Technique:
- Day 1: write down (manually - take your time to do this neatly as your application at this stage will help you memorise the words) 25 words at a time, in columns of the Spanish word on the left and the English translation on the right. Read your list out loud. This should take about 20 minutes. Make several groups of 25 words if you like, preferably dealing with them at different times in the day.
- Day 2: go over your first 25 words without looking at the translation. Then write down the words you did not know - again, take it slowly and mindfully, and read your words out loud when you have finished writing them down. Do this for all your groups, spacing out the sessions if at all possible.
- Day 3: as Day 2, using the new lists from Day 2. At this stage, you may be able to combine two of your lists to make up new groups of about 25 "difficult to learn" words.
- Day 4: as Day 3. By now you should be able to remember most of the words. If not, keep making new lists with your "difficult to learn" words,making sure that you write them slowly and thoughtfully, and that you read them out loud when you finish. That's really important for your brain to assimilate the new words.
- Days 5, 6 and 7: Depending on how you've got on, you can now go back to the original page of vocab you needed to learn and check that you still know the words you knew in the earlier days! Revise, revise and revise again.
- When you are in your second week of learning new vocabulary, make sure you go over the first week's list again towards the end of the week. Ditto for later weeks. But you don't need to do the whole lot every week - always do the previous week, but then space out the earlier weeks. For example:
Week 2 - revise Week 1.
Week 3 - revise Week 2.
Week 4 - revise Week 3 and Week 1.
Week 5 - revise Week 4 and 2.
Week 6 - revise Week 5, 3 and 1 (week 1 should now just be a formality)
Week 7 - revise Week 6, 4 and 2.
and so on.
If there are words from earlier weeks that you find you are struggling with, just make up more lists and revise them more regularly.