Note: This basic Spanish grammar page is part of a series of blogs that we did while learning Spanish language in Peru. Each blog focuses on real life examples of how we crafted our foreign language course. They are designed so show you how to create your own Walkabout foreign language course. Use our examples here for any language you want to learn. See the "More Peru Stories" list of links on this page for additional language learning strategies. Also see our Learn Spanish section.
Want to practice basic Spanish grammar? Try tandem language learning. My tandem language learning is a voluntary one-on-one Spanish exchange between two students in basic Spanish grammar.
In my case, I am learning Spanish and my tandem is learning English. The goal is for each of us to help the other with our native language. We each create a foreign language course for the other person. The structure is left to the participating pair, with an expectation that we will share the time equitably between the two languages, and good things will follow . . .
Terry and I are delighted with how well our tandem language learning sessions are going. His tandem (or, in Spanish, tamden) is a young architect who owns her own business and is enthusiastic about learning English. Mine is a young travel agent who needs English for his work in guiding people to their hotels upon arrival in Cusco. Both caught on quickly to the importance of practical drills for learning basic Spanish grammar. They are quite the task masters. Terry’s tandem actually gives him homework. For more about Terry’s tandem language learning, please see Spanish Tutorial.
Juan’s job plunges him into an English-fueled world, even though his agency seems to cater to German tourists. He’s the guy who holds up a sign with designated names and meets the agency’s clients at the airport. He makes sure the bags are collected, ushers travelers to their hotels, later picks them up from their lodging, and makes sure they have the proper tickets and gear for their tours. And he is preparing to be the tour guide who explains the sites his clients are seeing.
We have used his guide book to refine his spoken English. He reads the basic text for various tours his agency offers, and we work on pronunciation and intonation. We discuss words he doesn’t understand and use the text to expand his vocabulary. The added benefit is that I am learning about Peru culture and history beyond what I have been able to pick up in our own tourist outings.
Juan is extremely knowledgeable about English grammar – he can quickly name grammatical forms, such as present participles and past perfect, which most American students have forgotten by the time they graduate from high school. But pronunciation and intonation tend to be stumbling blocks. I have seen him make big strides in understanding and using words in his guidebook and in conversational English.
In return, he has given me one-on-one Spanish instruction, which has been great for my Walkabout Language Learning™ excursions--Step 4: Communicate--such as the exchange of a battery recharger we bought that didn’t work when we got it home, and various other errands. He corrects my basic Spanish grammar and is also is a patient drill master for my pronunciation.
Every foreign language course can be enhanced by a one-on-one tutorial. I'm sure they can come in as many flavors as the mind can invent.
We are thinking about working out suggestions for people who want to develop this kind of informal foreign language course. These suggestions would be for people working through an established program like the one we have at Maximo Nivel, or in more informal arrangements among people who want to improve their ability in another language by working with native speakers. Click here to learn how to get the most out of your tandem.
If you don't know a native speaker who's read to start a tandem, but you still want to get started learning a new language, try signing up with a professional language tutor.
--Posted by Ann, October 20