Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Memrise is a Great Resource for Reinforcing Language Skills

If you live somewhere other than a Spanish speaking country, even if you have reached fluency at some point in your life, it can be frustrating to realize how rusty you can become after a few months without speaking the language.  Wouldn't it be great if there was a fun tool you could use that could help keep you up to speed and protect the significant investment you've made in your Spanish education (travel, classes, time, money?)

There are a couple tools out there, but I stumbled across one recently that seems to be really effective.  It's called Memrise and it offers free 'gamified' activities for memorizing and learning.  Memrise offers courses on subjects ranging from languages to history, to math, but for our purposes we will focus on the Spanish courses.

According to the company's founders, Memrise's formula for success involves three pillars; science, fun and community.  They have spent countless hours studying how people learn, what works and what doesn't.  The programs use items called 'mem's which they claim help users build sensory memories, presumably lasting longer than standard memories.  I can't vouch for the scientific validity of 'mem's, but I can confirm that the second pilar, fun, indeed holds true.  The games are addicting, simple, and broken into manageable chunks that I could see myself slotting into a free half hour each day.  The community part of the triad is built by Memrise users supporting each other, providing new 'mems' and teaching others through past experiences.

Of the activities I tried, my favorite was the 'Spanish on The Go' program, which serves as a great quick hitter, that will give even a novice speaker, the essentials of language needed for activities like ordering in a restaurant or asking for directions.

While I won't go as far as saying that a program like Memrise is enough to take a pure Spanish beginner to a fluent speaker (If it was, SGSS might not have as many customers), I think this program can be an invaluable tool in the chest for learners looking to maintain the skills they have built.  Combined, with Spanish podcasts, regular conversation, and Spanish immersion, Memrise can help learners improve, review, maintain and supplement their Spanish learning.

Check our Memrise and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Can You Learn a Language in 3 Months?

Last month on the Student Globe Travel blog, we posted about Lifehacker contributor Maneesh Sethi who claimed he had learned a new language in 90 days. What were his keys to success? Not surprisingly, he found the ways he had been taught a second language while being educated in America's public schools were not effective. He had essentially, been taught to pass a Spanish test, but never had really learned to communicate in the language in real world situations. He also found popular language learning software like Rosetta Stone to be ineffective. So how did Maneesh ultimately achieve success? In the article he lays out four key strategies.

1. Get the necessary resources. This includes a grammar book, dictionary, memorization software, movies, books and music.

2. Get a private tutor. Maneesh recommends at hiring one for a month at at least four hours a day. PLUG: SGSS offers private tutoring at all of our Spanish schools. Check out our popular 1:1 Spanish courses in Buenos Aires.

3. Attempt to think and speak only in the new language. This one is way harder than it sounds! A tip I have found helpful is to stick post it notes on every item in your house listing the [insert language] name(s) of the item. You may look crazy to your friends, but it is an effective way to learn a lot of useful vocabulary quickly.

4. Find friends, language partners, and other speakers of the language. Predictably, Maneesh states that moving to a country and immersing oneself in the language and culture is the most effective method of doing this. We have been (selfishly) extolling the virtues of Spanish language immersion for years! You can read the entire article here. [via Lifehacker]

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Learn Spanish and Tango in Buenos Aires

Tango dancing originated in the working class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires in the 19th century, and by the early 20th century had become a worldwide craze.  Tango is a dance of passion, beauty and sensuality.

What better place to learn to tango then the birthplace of the world famous dance?

SG Spanish Schools is offering Spanish and Tango courses at its Buenos Aires campus in Argentina.

Tango Argentina from Denise Davidson on Vimeo.