Sunday, March 30, 2014

My first post

Hello everyone,

Sorry for taking so long to post. I have been a little occupied traveling around Uruguay.  Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Zack Snider. I’m working on a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Portuguese at Winston-Salem State University, and I currently study on exchange in the humanities department of the University of Montevideo.  Unlike Luiz, I have not been studying languages for long. I think that I was in my 20’s the first time I heard someone speak in a foreign language. I had only met a few bilingual people in my life, and I thought it was practically impossible to learn a second language; however, I was wrong. Here is a basic outline of how I got to where I am now with Spanish.

Get a course book – download, buy, or borrow one.
  • Follow its structure for better or worse. (we’ll go into more detail about course books in a future post)
  • When you don’t understand something from the book, look for supplement material to help explain.

Try to read short stories or even literature for children, in the desired language.
  • You begin to see how sentences are structured and how words are used in their context.

Put an emphasis on correct pronunciation. I like to read out loud. I would recommend reading the same texts a few times, until you don’t struggle with the big words and it all flows smoothly.

Watch television programs, movies, and YouTube clips
  • With audio in your language and subtitles in the desired language.
  • With audio and subtitles in the desired language, have a pen and notepad handy so you can write down words that you don’t know or phrases that you like.
  • Watch television series from the country or region that you like best that speaks your desired language. That way you familiarize yourself with the accent and preferred phrases of the local.

Maximize your exposure to the language
  • Try to listen to podcasts and music during free time, like when you are in the bus, waiting in line, eating lunch, or wherever you might.

Contact with natives
  • Speaking to natives always encourages me. It makes the language feel more real. Brazil and the United States are at a great disadvantage is this realm. We can literally travel for days and still not be in a place that speaks a different language. Needless to say, we have to work a little harder to find natives, but please make it a point.
  • They can give you valuable feedback and answer questions about grammar and colloquial phrases that just can’t be answered by a book or the internet.

Read the dictionary – It sounds boring, and yes it is, but it is also necessary
  • Get a few dictionaries. With languages like Portuguese, Spanish, and English that are spoken in various continents, the same word can have different meanings depending on local. I have an American English- Mexican Spanish dictionary and another of British English- Spanish from Spain, and you can really notice the difference.
  • is an incredible free resource. I use it everyday. It specifies the meaning of a word for region and context, and gives examples. Can’t remember the difference between “remember me” and “remind me”? Well, word reference has the answer.


  • At the start, I used to do the writing exercises on They give you a topic and you write a few sentences or paragraphs about it, and then native speakers correct it for you. I’m sure that nowadays there are other sites that offer something similar, or even better. Luiz would now more about it.

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