Learning Spanish? Write a Blog

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macocael

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Aug 3, 2004
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Believe it or not, if you have been speaking Spanish here for a while and have mastered some of the basic conversational forms, maybe it is time to consider writing a blog, if you go in for that sort of thing. I have found that reading the papers and then graduating to novels and poetry was helping me considerably, but it seemed that I had reached a plateau and wasnt able to improve any further -- until a Uruguayan friend of mine convinced me to start a blog. He said that his own blog was a valuable means of teaching him written English, and that the same strategy might work for me.

I have to say, I think he may be right. So many idiomatic expressions, as well as the peculiarities of the written language (where to put the accents, for example) continue to escape my grasp, and I think it is for lack of practice and reiteration. By forcing myself to write something on a regular basis I am sure that I will also force my memory to hold onto the new words and forms that I am learning. Another advantage of the blog is that it is informal so there is no pressure on you. You can just natter on as you please.

Anyway, I have kicked mine off with three separate articles, which can be viewed here: http://trozosdeunviralata.blogspot.com/

I am recommending this as a useful pedagogic strategy for those of you who have some command of the language already, say an intermediate or advanced beginner level. And any of you who are adept and read my blog, by all means feel free to correct my grammar.
 

Marianopolita

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Dec 26, 2003
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Great idea!

Maco-

I think this is a wonderful idea and I am kind of surprised you did not consider it sooner. I think the concept of freelance writing in Spanish will indeed help your writing skills. As you said the setting is informal and you can write at your leisure. I actually have quite a few Spanish blogs saved in my favorites of people I don't know that I discovered when searching for info and I think some of them are bloggers with the same concept that you are proposing.

Anyway it sounds like fun and you have a fan right here. I will read your blog. You can count on me.

Bye for now.


-LDG.
 

macocael

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Folks, dont know if anyone is tuning in here, but I want to reiterate that this is a good idea, it is working, and in a single week i feel I have learned several things that hitherto had utterly escaped my grasp. This is an excellent pedagogical tool. The blog is full of errors, particularly lapses in accentuation (most of which I think I have fixed by now), and wacky syntax that is carried over from my English style of writing. But slowly I feel I am beginning to understand the problems. For example, how many of you realize that "aun" is sometimes accented and sometimes not? I learned that this week. A small thing, maybe, and it seems from reading the majority of Dominican blogs that most Dominicans have thrown out the whole concept of writing with proper accents, but I think it's worth knowing the difference. More important, idiomatic phrases are now sticking in my head, whereas before I started writing this thing, I would recognize the phrase, understand its meaning -- but it would never occur to me to use it when speaking! That is, it was never present to my consciousness. Now it is part of my automatic vocabulary. That is a small but very real victory.
 

Marianopolita

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Dec 26, 2003
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Macocael-

Writing in general in any language forces a person to be more conscientious of grammar rules, punctuation, accentuation etc. and that?s the beauty about practicing in a setting such as a blog. You can write and then after a few days go back and critique your own writing style i.e. grammar errors, syntax, usage of vocabulary etc. if your goal is to improve this is definitely one way that will be rewarding over time.

One comment I would like to make about accentuation. In general if you observe all types of writing by those who write in Spanish placing the accents on words is a problem even for adults. I know many people who guess their way through accentuation in Spanish or just leave them out all together. Now with regards to the Dominican blogs you have read without accents, I think the problem is not only limited to Dominicans and various factors need to be taken into consideration for the lack of accentuation:

1/ the informal nature of the Internet- be it message board communication, emails or blogs grammar rules tend to be ignored when communicating via these methods which includes placing the accents on words.

2/ lack of knowledge- believe it or not many people don?t know where the accents go in Spanish and some do not know the rules behind accentuation. As a result some people try memorize the accents on words but have difficulty with complex verb forms (for example commands with a pronoun). Therefore they guess or leave the accents out all together.

3/ accentuation changes the meaning of some words- as you mentioned there is a difference between aun/ a?n, mi/ m?, de/d?, solo/ s?lo, se/s?, el/?l and the list goes on. I am not sure if I can say people are not aware of these differences but I have seen many writers who seem to not know the difference in meaning of the examples I listed above.

Regarding sentence structure, good syntax comes via grammar knowledge and reading. The more you read, the more exposure you will have to good sentence structure in Spanish. Keep in mind you will evidence faulty syntax in any language just read one of the poorer grade Dominican newspapers as an example as compared to one of the better ones like El List?n Diario. There is a world of difference. If you read the literature of good Spanish authors who don?t complicate their writing with difficult syntax will prove very helpful as well.

One aspect to keep in mind journalists who have become authors tend to have a very straightforward literary style with simple syntax, good vocabulary and little colloquialisms. An example is the Cuban journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner. Whereas authors who I enjoy reading like Jaime Bayly (Peruvian) and Pedro Juan Guti?rrez (Cuban) maintain excellent writing styles but with the inclusion of colloquialisms, slang etc.


Keep practicing and I will keep reading.


-LDG.
 
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Chirimoya

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Dec 9, 2002
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Lesley/macocael - please explain aun/ aún; solo/ sólo

The rest I think I get:
mi/ mí - 'my'/me' (not 100% sure which is which, though)
de/dé - of/subjunctive of 'dar'
se/sé - reflexive auxiliary/'saber' conjugated 1st person present tense
el/él - the (masc.)/he or him
 

juancarlos

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Sep 28, 2003
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Lesley, you are right about accents. Sometimes the lack of an accent completely changes the meaning of a word or sentence, for example:

el camino, written just like this, no accent, means "the road" or "the way", but:

él caminó means "he walked".

Similarly, cambio is change, but cambió means "he or she changed" and there are many, many more examples. I also want to know the answer to what Chirimoya is asking regarding aun and aún and solo and sólo. In this case, does solo refer to being alone while sólo means "only" or "unless"?
 

Sholly24

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Mar 5, 2006
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Lesley, you are right about accents. Sometimes the lack of an accent completely changes the meaning of a word or sentence, for example:

el camino, written just like this, no accent, means "the road" or "the way", but:

?l camin? means "he walked".

Similarly, cambio is change, but cambi? means "he or she changed" and there are many, many more examples. I also want to know the answer to what Chirimoya is asking regarding aun and a?n and solo and s?lo. In this case, does solo refer to being alone while s?lo means "only" or "unless"?

aun - means 'even' or can also be the same as 'hasta' or 'incluso'
a?n - mean 'still' or can be the same as 'todavia'

s?lo - means 'only' and can also be the same as 'solamente'
solo - means 'alone'

As explained to me by my spanish teacher
 

Marianopolita

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Dec 26, 2003
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Chiri & JC-

Part of the problem with understanding accents and accentuation in Spanish is it?s an extensive grammar topic but not given proper attention when grammar is taught. In a typical Spanish textbook a chapter or a portion of chapter is dedicated to accentuation. That simply is not enough of a foundation. IMO this is the root of the problem compounded with grammar issues.

These words in proper grammatical terms are called homonyms. Words that sound the same and have a different meaning are defined as such when distinguished by an accent. In Spanish there are many and that?s why understanding accentuation is essential in order to correctly write or convey the meaning of a word.

Chiri and Juancarlos to answer your queries:

1/ aun/ a?n= even/ yet or still- answered by Sholly24
2/ solo/ s?lo= alone/ only (remember this is just the short form of solamente)-answered by Sholly24
3/ mi/ m?= my (possessive adjective) / me (prepositional pronoun used after a preposition to distinguish between the two forms. For example para m?).
4/ el/?l- the (masc. definite article)/ he/ him (pronoun)


There are many more as JC said but it is important to know for grammar and writing purposes. Don?t forget these ones:

mas/ m?s, te/t?, tu/t?, si/s?


-LDG.
 

macocael

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Aug 3, 2004
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You see it gets complicated, so follow my example and write a blog! We will all be writing polished Spanish in no time, particularly with Lesley's able critiques to guide us. I am very serious about this though. I also happened to notice this week that my speaking seems to have improved a bit. But it is daunting. First of all, I spend a long time figuring out those accents. I check and recheck words, and even still some get by. And of course there is the basic problem of coming up with something to say, which is hard in any language but even harder in this instance not only because one is not adept in Spanish but also because one wants the writing to lead somewhere new in the language, so the easy route must be avoided. And that means spending considerable time wrestling with it.
 
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