Survey: The challenges of learning Spanish.

Hi everyone!

Soon we will publish the first out of a series of posts about Spanish grammar to help our English-Spanish users learn the language even faster. For that purpose, we would like to gather some preliminary feedback from you.

As we know that most of you already have a good grasp of Spanish, we would like to ask you about the areas of the Spanish language that you find most challenging. This will help us add more specific contents to our future posts.

We would love to hear from you!

¡Feliz aprendizaje!

last edited by Javier

Areas of Spanish that are the most challenging for me:

  • ser vs. estar
  • por vs. para
  • cuál vs. qué
  • deber & all its tenses vs. tener que vs. poder (i.e. must vs. may vs. could vs. should vs. might vs. will have to, etc.)
  • dealing with false cognates
  • remembering low frequency words
  • idioms (Example: "¡Pudiste hacerlo y no te dio la gana! → You could have done it but you didn't want to!")
  • the subjunctive - uggh!
  • the passive voice
  • word selection - sometimes several words mean the same thing but even though they may overlap in meaning, one word is usually the best choice for the situation context.
  • pronouns can be confusing... sometimes 'with' isn't 'con' but rather 'de' and there are so many other exceptions like that
  • que can show up in some of the weirdest places where it wouldn't be there in English. (Example: "Haces que los anteojos parezcan más tontos. → You make the glasses look dumber." You wouldn't think you'd need the que in this sentence.)
  • being able to think in Spanish (this is the ultimate goal of fluency, right?)
  • being able to comprehend spoken voice at normal spoken pace
last edited by Frank

Dear Frank,

First of all, thanks a lot for your in-depth reply! We will definitely take into account all of your input!

Regarding the areas you have mentioned, we will add some comments that we hope you find useful:

  • You can find some helpful tips in our Grammar Hints section (ser/estar, por/para, prepositions, pronouns...). Soon you will find more information available in there as there are other hints we are in the process of creating (the passive voice, subjunctive mood and tenses, pronominal verbs, etc).

  • As for the idiomatic expressions you may find on the cards, we would like to encourage you to try to understand them in their specific contexts, taking their meaning from the usage/literal translations provided. It is not necessary to focus all of your attention on them at this point, as they will distract you from acquiring the vocabulary and structures that you will need to "decode" them in the future.

  • You might have not realised, but the fact that you are able to point out such specific areas of language makes you already an advanced learner! Don't worry too much, just keep learning and practising at you own pace: comprehension and mastery will come naturally in time :-D

We're creating a lot of new content both on Lingvist and The Forum. Stay tuned and remember that you can count on us to help you along your language-learning journey!

¡Feliz aprendizaje!

last edited by Javier

The BIG problem I have is the howling, inchoate nightmare of Spanish verbs. Every single verb seems to do something weird (most of them lots of very weird!) and I just can't get a grip on it. After 22 hours my word count is about 1300 (so much for 2000 in 17 hours - piffle! show me some REAL statistics, you must have them by now!) and if you rule out the verb words (which I nearly always get wrong) and the rather wobbly nouns that's a much much smaller number in reality.
I admit that I've never been a rote learner. I could never recite nursery rhymes (but I'd tell you the story). I have never learnt multiplication tables - I understood the structures and patterns and got the answer just as quickly, and more reliably and flexibly.
But I can't get a grip on the patterns of Spanish verbs. I think part of the problem is the scatter gun approach of the cards. Some verb comes up, I guess wrong. I read the conjugation table. Next card, different verb, completely different, first verb thrown out of memory. Next card another verb, different again. And so on.
I have a suggestion. When a finite verb card comes up - drill that verb! Follow it with a cluster of cards for the same verb, same tense/voice/mood but all the different persons and numbers (all 10). Randomise the sequence (or not), throw in a noun or adjective card but no other verb cards. That way those of us who can't soak up conjugation tables might get a chance to learn the patterns and get the odd verb card right, sometimes, maybe.
But I'll struggle on until the sense of hopeless despair overwhelms me!

¡Hola!

Thanks for sharing insights about your learning challenges!

Regarding the difficulties you have mentioned in your post, we have some comments to add, which we hope you will find useful to improve your Lingvist experience:

– Please remember to read the grammar hints that usually pop up whenever you get a verb card wrong, as they usually deal with tense specificities. Alternatively, please refer to the Grammar Hints section, where you will find more in-depth explanations and examples on verb tense formation and usage.

– As you know, Lingvist teaches structures by frequency, this is, words and phrases that are statistically relevant and used around the world every day. Besides this, we use a specific repetition pattern to improve memorisation.

– We understand you find Spanish verbs difficult, but, do not worry too much, it's all a matter of practice. Why not combining some verb drills with your Lingvist lessons?

As the Chinese say, learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere, and we know you can do it! ;-)

¡Feliz aprendizaje!

last edited by Javier

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