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Corporate Spanish Trainer
domingo, 23 de abril de 2017

A Solid Preliminary Base

If you’re new to Spanish, you may be noticing that in just about 1 month, there is a lot of information!
What we are doing so far is laying a strong preliminary foundation. English has approximately a million words in the language and Spanish has around 300,000. The good news is that we don’t to learn them all! Most people have about 10,000 words in their vocabulary, but of these, we only use around 3,000 of them on a regular everyday basis.

We can be conversational in 95-98% of daily conversations with a 3,000 word vocabulary. With this thought in mind, the plan here is to build our vocabulary in increments of 300-500 words so that by the end of the year we’ve been exposed to around 2,500-3,000 words. We begin with the highest frequency words.

For a moment, think about the 10,000 words we all have in our vocabulary or the millions that exist in English. What are some words that you see, hear or use perhaps only a few times a year, once a year or even less than that? Depending on your occupation, reading habits etc…there are many words that only come up every so often. Have you ever heard a word and thought, “Good word. I haven’t heard that one for a long time!”

As we set our preliminary base, we are learning the most frequently used words in the language, the ones that will apply to daily situations. We want to learn very active words so we have lots of opportunity to hear and use them in everyday life. As we gain more experience and vocabulary we’ll begin reaching into less frequently, but still very useful vocabulary.

When learning a foreign language this is how it goes:
1. We learn a new word.
2. We begin to recognize it when someone else speaks it or we read it.
3. We begin to speak it ourselves.
(We wish that this were #1 or #2 in the process)

It can take 25 to 40 exposures to a word before an adult memorizes it. Some words, however, we memorize after just 1 exposure. That’s a useful word! If it takes 25-40 exposures to a word we can try to speed that up. If you only see a new word 1 time per week, that’s a lot of weeks before you have it memorized. But if you take a word or a phrase and say it again and again or write it 3-5 times per day, it’s just a matter of a week before you’ve got it. Repetition! Listening to or reading a Post 3-5 times, tuning into the radio or T.V in Spanish for 5 minutes a day or listening to music or language program in your car will also reinforce your vocabulary.

One of my students once told me: “I remember when learning the days of the week and numbers was really hard for me. I recently went back and reviewed my level 1 materials and I was shocked by how easy it all seemed to me now.” She was a level 3 at the time.

If you are brand new to Spanish, don’t feel like you have to memorize it all. The following is a list of what we’ve covered and what you’ll want to be “familiar” with.
Familiar with. Not memorized, not speaking fluidly, just familiar with it.

Los saludos – greetings.
Vocabulario útil – Useful vocabulary such as “speak slower, please
Los números – numbers 0-199
Los días de la semana – Days of the week
Los meses del año – Months of the year
Las estaciones – Seasons
Los cognados – cognates
La pronunciación española – Spanish pronunciation


Otras palabras importantes como... – Other important words like…
Soy… – I am
Soy de… – I am from
Tengo… – I have
¿Tienes…? – Do you have…?
Quiero... – I want…
¿Quieres…? – Do you want…?
Quisiera… – I would like


As we learn these words, we apply them above conversationally so you have them in context.

It’s really exciting to be at this point! We’ve reached a milestone as far as laying the preliminary foundation.
Again, I want to stress that you do have to, nor are you expected to, have all of this memorized before moving on. Most of it will keep coming up for us, so it will continue to get reinforced.
Let’s keep going!


I invite you to leave a comment:

-let me know how you’re doing with your studies
-do you have any questions?
-share an experience you’ve had that involved Spanish
-suggest a topic for a future Post


I’d love to hear from you!

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Muchas gracias, You are doing great! Here’s to your Spanish and happy travels!

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