Learning Spanish - Part 12 - Conversational Spanish Lessons
This article discusses some of the benefits of conversational Spanish
lessons. I explain what my lessons were like at the Spanish school I
attended in Antigua, Guatemala for two weeks and in what ways they helped
me to improve my overall level of Spanish.
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In my last article I wrote about the elements of Spanish grammar that my
personal tutor and I went over during the Spanish lessons I took whilst
in Antigua, Guatemala. In this article I want to talk about the
conversational lessons that I attended at the same school.
During my two weeks at the school I spent Monday to Friday from 9.00am to
12.00pm studying Spanish grammar on a one to one basis with my tutor. The
afternoons were devoted to different kinds of conversational lessons.
These included talking in Spanish with various different tutors on a one
to one basis, participating in group conversations and playing different
types of word games.
Conversational lessons benefit the student in a number of different ways.
In my case having conversational lessons each afternoon gave me the
opportunity to put into practice the Spanish grammar that I had learnt
during that morning. It is always a good thing to try and practice any
new Spanish you have learnt, straight away while it is still fresh in
your head. You might want to think about constructing certain types of
typical sentences that help you remember different aspects of Spanish
Speaking, listening and becoming accustomed to spoken Spanish is an
essential part of the learning process and of course, having a
conversation with someone allows you to do all of these things at the
When you first start to have conversations with people in Spanish you
will probably find the whole experience quite gruelling, especially if
your vocabulary is limited! This is completely normal. Don’t forget that
you are used to speaking in your first language every single day without
even thinking about it and to suddenly change this habitual action is no
easy task! The thing is that you have to keep practicing. It is like
anything, the more you practice the better you become.
One of the great benefits of having conversational lessons is that you
can take as long as is required to have the actual conversation, plus,
your teacher can make sure you are speaking correctly. In real life
situations this is often very difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Often people will not have the patience to wait while you try to get your
words out or not bother to correct you if you say something that isn’t
quite grammatically correct.
The types of conversations that you can have in order to practice your
Spanish are endless, which means you can practice using all aspects of
Spanish grammar and a full range of vocabulary. To practice different
verb tenses for example you can talk about things in the present, past
and future or you could practice describing what certain objects look
like if you just want to focus on specific vocabulary.
You can talk about yourself, you can talk about events in your life, you
can practice describing things, asking and responding to different types
of questions, you can talk about different experiences you have had,
about things you would like to do, about the things you do and don’t
like. The list really is endless!
When I was attending conversational classes in Guatemala I did however,
sometimes get a little board and frustrated. I think this was mainly
because I couldn’t speak quickly enough, didn’t know enough vocabulary
and always had to think about what I was going to say before saying it.
Also I was having the same types of conversations over and over again and
couldn’t really talk about anything in great detail. In order to prevent
or lessen these types of annoyances the school provided group
conversational lessons and encouraged the students to play different
types of word games such as ‘hang man’ or ‘what am I’.
There is no point in doing any kind of study if you are not enjoying it
or if you start becoming board. Varying the different types of learning
activities is a good way of preventing this from happening. Playing word
games are also a good way of breaking up your study routine but in a way
that still allows you to practice your Spanish. Group conversations can
help build your speaking confidence and listening to other students
speaking Spanish can be quite reassuring. You realise that other people
are in the same boat as you and you can also use the experience to test
whether you think someone has said something correctly or not.
Making the learning experience an enjoyable one is important and to help
achieve this the school I went to in Guatemala arranged different group
activities after lessons. Some of these included visiting a local coffee
plantation, going on a bike ride and going out for a meal. Getting
involved in social activities is not only fun but it also allows you to
practice your Spanish in less formal and natural environments.
In my next article I intend to write about ‘home stays’. When I was
studying at a school in Antigua, Guatemala the school arranged for me to
live with a local family for two weeks. I will discuss in what ways this
type of culture immersion helped me to learn more Spanish and practice
the Spanish I already knew.