There are endless studies and research proving that studying a foreign language in school is extremely beneficial for reasons beyond just having a strong High School transcript. In fact, the College Board reported that students who complete 4 years of studying a foreign language performed better on the SAT (100 points or higher) than those who did not*! If you are currently in a High School Spanish course, here are some great tips from our friends at Language Bird .
- Use N.E.T. time to study
There is a helpful concept, coined by the renowned success coach Tony Robbins, called N.E.T. time. This stands for “No extra time, time.” N.E.T. time is the time taken doing mundane tasks that require little or no mental focus. Examples are exercise, commuting to/from school, going to the bathroom, walking the dog, walking from class to class at school, taking a lunch break, shopping, cooking, etc. These activities add up to HUNDREDS of hours of your life every year. Take advantage of the N.E.T. time in your life and study your class notes simultaneously.
- Study your notes out loud.
Science shows by actually saying (Spanish) sentences and words out loud, additional pathways are physically created in your brain that will help you to remember the information!
- Use a good accent
Americans are notorious for egregious Spanish accents. This does not have to be you though! You must apply some strategies that will help you to clean it up quickly.
There are many sounds in Spanish that are easy for English speakers to create, but that are simply often ignored. For some reason, students are embarrassed to speak with a more native sounding accent. Perhaps it’s because it feels awkward since it’s different and our peers are all speaking with American accents. Whatever the case, with Spanish sounds that are already easy for you to create, embrace them! If anything, you should be embarrassed when not speaking properly. This will instantly improve your accent dramatically. Here are some examples:
Teléfono - Many students will ignore the accent mark and speak with the accent over the “o.” This has nothing to do with difficulty in saying it correctly. It’s just lazy. Don’t let this be you! Speak as the accents are written and your speech will be more beautiful.
Gracias – Many students will default to the American “r” sound and harsh “a” sound as in “Apple.” Don’t do this! Listen to your instructor and copy them. The “a” sound is more like “ah” and you don’t need to learn to roll your “r” for this words – it’s just one touch of the tongue.
- Sit near the good students or solo
Your friends are already the good students? Fantastic! Sit by them. During group conversation exercises their skills will help to push you.
If your friends are not necessarily the top students in the class, of course you will enjoy sitting with them, but we also know that it’s simply a massive distraction. Instead, choose to sit with some other people or at least solo!
- Do your homework
This is simple. Just do the work. Homework often counts for a large percentage of your grade and doing the work, even if it’s not all correct, can nearly guarantee you’ll pass the class.
- Be brave in class
Make it your mission to raise your hand at least once every class. The instructor will love you! Afraid other students will judge you? Who cares! Let them.
- Just ask
Don’t be afraid of asking your teacher questions during and/or after class. Many teachers love it when students are engaged and interested in learning their subject matter and feel honored and excited that you asked. Don’t be shy!
- Talk to your counselor
Now is a great time to learn how to advocate for yourself! In college, it will be all up to you, so practice now! This means you need to find help for yourself when you need it before the situation is beyond repair! If you feel like you are falling behind and you don’t know what else you can do, talk to your school counselor or another adult you trust on campus. They can provide suggestions or resources available to you that you may not know about.
Additionally, you can always call LanguageBird if you need!
They are happy to provide you with Spanish courses online with their instructors. You will receive high school credit accepted by colleges all over the U.S. and approved by the University of California and NCAA.
*based on research shown in The Benefits of Second Language Study