Want to get a better grade in Spanish class? If you’re struggling with homework, tests, or classroom participation, it’s time to figure out a strategy for success. Read on to learn several tips from Spanish teachers and tutors, including TakeLessons tutor Joan B.…
As a longtime Spanish teacher, I’ve seen it all in the classroom. From students who struggle to students who ace every test, decades of teaching and observing students’ study and test-taking habits have made it clear that there are certain key strategies for success in the Spanish classroom. In addition to learning these hints and strategies for getting an “A” in Spanish class, this article will also help you learn how to study for a Spanish test without having to cram for it.
Ready for the insider secrets on how to pass Spanish with flying colors? Here are my tips, alongside tips that we’ve compiled from other Spanish teachers across the web…
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What to Do During Class
Spanish class isn’t the time for zoning out! Make the most of your time with these tips.
• Silently answer every question that the teacher poses to the class, then listen for the correct answer from your teacher.
If you’re constantly staying engaged by mentally answering every question your teacher asks, you’ll be reinforcing grammar, vocabulary, and general fluency. Then, when you really need the answer (for example, when your teacher calls on you or you’re taking an oral exam), the answer will already be on the tip of your tongue!
• Treat every exercise like a Spanish class quiz, and keep track of the answers you didn’t know.
A big part of studying successfully is to use your time wisely. If you only have a short time to study, keep track of what you don’t know, so that you can immediately zero in on these areas, instead of wasting time by reviewing things you already know well.
• Use any extra time in class to study your vocabulary.
Keeping up with memorizing Spanish vocabulary is a key method to progressing in the language. Vocabulary can really get out of hand if you don’t learn it regularly. The list keeps growing, but if you study it consistently, it will be much less overwhelming. You’ll be a more natural Spanish speaker, too!
• Ask your teacher questions when you don’t understand something. Often teachers can break Spanish grammar concepts down into simpler components or explain them in a different way.
The old adage about there being no stupid questions really is true. In fact, teachers love it when students ask questions, because it makes it clear to us what’s still confusing to our students, so we’re in a better position to help them. Anytime you ask a question, you’re also doing a favor to the countless other students who are wondering the same thing, but are too afraid to speak up!
• Teach a concept to a classmate. When a classmate doesn’t understand something and you’re able to explain it to him or her, do so. This helps cement the concept in your brain.
Not only is this another good deed, teaching someone else will flush forward any fine points you may be still working out. If you can explain something and answer any questions that arise from your explanation, you have also maximized your understanding of the concept. The best part? If you get stuck, your teacher is on hand to help!
• Mimic your teacher’s Spanish accent, as well as the voices you hear on any audio tapes.
Speaking with a close-to-native accent can be a huge challenge for students, but it doesn’t have to be. A large part of sounding like a native speaker of a language is speaking confidently and convincingly, so envision yourself in a Spanish-speaking country, and play the part!
• Use your time wisely in the classroom; this helps minimize your study time at home.
As a student, it can be easy to fall into the hole of using class time to socialize or zone out. The smartest students, however, are those who realize that if you spend your class time in maximum focus and concentration, you’ll have much less work to do at home (and more time to spend with your friends after class!).
How to Study and Practice Spanish
The learning doesn’t end when Spanish class lets out! Make sure you really understand how to study, especially if you have a test coming up (so you can avoid cramming!). Here are the essentials.
• Always translate your homework to be sure you know what things mean.
This is a form of studying, and will save you time in the long run. You can translate the meaning verbally or write it down on a separate sheet of paper.
• Study a section of vocabulary every day, focusing on the words that were introduced in class that day.
If you’re having trouble memorizing some words, make flashcards for them. This ensures you won’t fall behind in vocabulary memorization and have to cram before your Spanish test.
• Write down grammar concepts and some examples on index cards, and review them every couple of days.
Trying to comprehend too many Spanish grammar concepts in a short amount of time can leave you confused. This method will ensure you have plenty of time to digest each concept.
• Be very focused in class; you can learn most of the material just by paying close attention and staying on task.
This means you will be in reviewing mode before a test instead of cramming mode.
How to Ace Your Spanish Exam
It’s go-time! Now that you know how to study for a Spanish test, you’ll be well-prepared for the big test day. Here’s what to keep in mind as you take the test.
• Read through the questions before listening to an audio section on your exam, so that you can familiarize yourself with the questions you will be answering about the passage.
• Check to make sure your nouns and adjectives agree in number and gender and that the verb endings match the subject of each verb.
• Look at the previous sentence and the sentence that follows when filling in blanks for vocabulary words in a dialogue. They usually contain clues that indicate what vocabulary word you should use.
• When you are given something like affirmative and negative familiar command forms, first give all affirmative forms, then switch to the negative. This will help you avoid confusion, since they are formed differently.
• Reread your answers all the way through once you’ve finished the exam.
With all of these tips, you should be able to improve your grade in Spanish class. These suggestions weren’t always obvious to my students, but once I shared them, they found that everything — from homework to test preparation and oral exams — became easier. Students also noticed that classroom time became study time, making their schedules lighter.
Try to implement one suggestion per week, and you’ll see a marked difference in your grade and skill level!
Special thanks to the following bloggers, who contributed to this list:
Need some extra help with your Spanish classes? Working with a private tutor can be an excellent way to learn how to speak Spanish both in and out of the classroom. Search for a Spanish tutor today!
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!
Photos by University of Central Arkansas
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