You may be wondering why I haven’t yet been putting together sentences and conjugating verbs and other grammatical delights. The reason I haven’t is the same reason you wouldn’t ask a baby to cook dinner. You aren’t ready for it.
One of my “ah-ha” moments about Spanish came while I was talking to my daughter’s friend about school and specifically how she was doing in her high school Spanish class. She’s a very smart kid so I wasn’t surprised when she told me she was getting an “A” in her class. I then asked her to say some things to me in Spanish. She was able to say some phrases but not much beyond that. This confused me because I couldn’t understand how she could be doing so well in class but not be able to carry on a basic conversation. After talking to her some more I realized the problem; she didn’t know enough vocabulary words. Given a piece of paper and pencil she had no problem conjugating verbs or diagramming sentences in Spanish. The problem was, so much emphasis was placed on grammar in her class that vocabulary wasn’t covered sufficiently for her to actually be able to carry on a conversation.
I also discovered this to be a problem with my friend from Mexico who is taking an adult English class. Her class also has a heavy emphasis on grammar and vocabulary takes a back seat. This leaves her with the same problem my daughter’s friend has; carrying on a conversation is extremely difficult even though she does well with classroom work.
As I’ve looked at my books on learning to speak Spanish guess what I found? You guessed it, lots of grammar and a small focus on vocabulary.
Don’t get me wrong. Grammar is essential if you are to become truly fluent speaking and writing in Spanish. But that’s shouldn’t be your first baby step. The purpose of this blog is to get you started on your quest to communicating with someone in Spanish and having some fun along the way. Your communication won’t be fluid and beautiful, but you if you follow the silly approach, you will have the tools you need to get rolling and then we can gently start introducing grammar.
Of course, this begs the question, “what vocabulary words should I learn first?” You can pick up a dictionary and have all the words you need but choosing which to study first is a problem.
Never fear, vocabulary man is here! The vocabulary we’ll focus on includes common words that you’ll encounter. No, you won’t know what the Spanish word for “bulldozer” is, but you will be able to ask for a glass of water. Lots of common vocabulary words will be provided in upcoming posts.