Did you know that studies have shown that after three months of studying a foreign language such as Spanish in classes, a student's brain grew in four places - namely the hippocampus, middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, and superior temporal gyrus. It’s true, not only does it improve your brain size and function, it helps you increase your memory skills.
Spanish happens to be one of the most popular second languages students in the United States will learn. Whether you are still in school, or have graduated from school, continuing your learning and practice of your Spanish skills can benefit your life in many ways.
If you are living in the city of Houston and are thinking of enrolling in a Spanish course near you, it’s a great time to start! Continue reading below where we will outline how you can take Spanish lessons in Houston.
Characteristics of the Spanish Language
Spanish is a Romance language. In fact, it is the most widely spoken Roman language in the world and it also happens to use a similar alphabet as English. It is the official language of many countries around the world such as Spain, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Here in the United States, you can find a large number of native Spanish speakers in the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and New York City.
Another fact that you might already know about the Spanish language is that it is phonetic. This means that each letter in the language can be pronounced consistently, and with a similar alphabet like in English, this makes Spanish easy to learn for English speakers as one does not have to memorize any complex characters or relearn a whole new different alphabet.
Besides being phonetic, some characteristics of Spanish can be difficult for native English speakers to pick up. One of these characteristics is that Spanish is a gendered language that has masculine and feminine words and articles. In addition, there are also genders for the adjectives and the articles which need to match any accompanying nouns.
Why Learn Spanish as a Second Language?
Learning a new language can be beneficial to a person in a lot of ways. As a student, you are expanding your knowledge and developing a different part of your brain that you may not be using on a daily basis.
One big reason a lot of people in the U.S. learn Spanish with the help of tutors is to improve your career and life by connecting you to your local Spanish-speaking community. Perhaps you know a close friend or significant other who speaks Spanish in their family. Or if you are interested in making new friends with the many Spanish speakers in your community.
Another big reason why people learn Spanish is to give themselves a leg-up in the job market. The job market today is more competitive than ever so being a bilingual employee can open doors. This is especially true if you are interested in a career in politics, or at any customer-facing role, taking a Spanish language class can help you engage better with your customers or clients.
Spanish Lessons in Houston
Houston, being the most populous city in the state of Texas, is made up of many Spanish speakers. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why you may want to take Spanish lessons in Houston so you can connect and make friends with the Spanish-speaking community.
According to the City of Houstons’ Planning and Development Department, only 54% of Houston residents speak English at home compared to 79% in the rest of the United States. A further breakdown shows that 3% of these Houston residents speak Spanish at home compared to 13% in the rest of the United States.
To start looking for Spanish lessons in Houston, try typing in keywords such as Spanish lessons in Houston into search engines such as Google. You may find many websites offering both private and group Spanish courses, as well as organizations that can connect you with Spanish tutors, university or college courses, or learning groups.
One such Spanish language organization is the Institute of Hispanic Culture of Houston. Founded in 1965, the institute is a non-profit organization working to preserve the richness of Hispanic culture, values, and civic interests in the city of Houston. Some services provided by the institute include educational and networking activities and organizing activities and events to raise funds for scholarship programs.
If you require a qualified Spanish speaker who can dedicate their time to help you pick up the language, consider hiring a Spanish tutor. Using websites like Superprof, you can generate a list of Spanish tutors in Houston and filter them based on criteria such as experience level and cost.
Another way you can find a buddy or an informal practice or exchange partner is using smartphone apps that can connect you with locals. Similar to how dating apps, these language exchange apps can match you with anyone in the world or a local person interested in learning your language, and who will help you learn Spanish in return.
Fun Ways To Learn Spanish
Mastering a language can take a lot of dedication especially at the university or college level. If you find fun ways to make the process fun and engaging, you might be motivated to keep learning for longer or be more productive during your learning sessions.
One fun way to learn Spanish is to switch up your learning methods! If you are in the middle of a long study session, consider watching Spanish videos or newscasts instead of hitting the books for a change. If you are already watching videos, try reading some Spanish texts to practice your reading for a change.
A second way to make learning new and fun is to use technology. And since mastering a language requires trial and error, you can test your skills by either using flashcard, with the help of a teacher, or use applications that help you learn via testing. This way you can see how your skills measure up against the rest of the online language community, or to keep track of your progress to see how much you are improving each day.
One more fun way to practise Spanish is to find a Spanish speaker as your pen pal! Obviously, to do this you should have more than an intermediate understanding of Spanish. Once you reach a fairly advanced skill level, you can find penpals on specialized websites or language classes and apps that pair you up with people from around the world who are looking to learn and practise a second language.
Staying Motivated During Your Studies
To succeed in your Spanish studies, you need to stay motivated in order to make constant and steady progress. Some days it may be more difficult to stay motivated and focus, while other days it can even feel impossible to make progress and the road to your Spanish goals can seem far and unreachable. But don’t get discouraged so fast! Here are some ways you can stay motivated in your Spanish studies.
Understand Why You Are Procrastinating
Procrastination is part of life, and everyone tends to do it from time to time. If you find yourself constantly procrastinating on studying your Spanish texts and studies, it’s important to understand why you are using procrastination as a roadblock to getting started.
A common reason students procrastinate is because they feel stuck and that the study material is beyond your learning capabilities. If this is the case, think about the actual text or lessons you are following. You can also take to your teacher or tutor about it to see what they think of the material. Perhaps they are indeed too difficult for your skill level and you should focus on mastering simpler content before moving on.
If you are procrastinating because you are losing interest in Spanish, perhaps your study methods are not interesting enough. For some fun ideas on how to make Spanish fun, check out the previous section where we outline fun ways to make studying Spanish interesting!
If you are simply procrastinating because you just don’t want to start, perhaps it’s time to find some Spanish tutors near you in Houston who can help you stay accountable on your learning goals. Tutoring sessions can also keep you on track and provide you with homework materials to complete before each meetup, so you are forced to get to work in order to meet these homework due dates.
Treat Yourself From Time to Time
If you are not feeling motivated, perhaps you are also in need of some self care and love! Rewards are an essential component of life. We go to work because we are rewarded by a paycheck, and we do various things in life simply because of the joy we get out of it. Being a Spanish student is no different.
If you are having a difficult time staying motivated in your Spanish studies, try to give yourself a reward. This can be anything from a short pat on the back, a short study break, a treat in the form of your favourite snack, or a vacation planned all for yourself to relax. But don’t forget - the key here is to set a Spanish goal and reach that goal first before you reward yourself.
Think in Routine
Some people hate having routines and doing the same thing at the same time each day, while others thrive from following a daily routine. So if you are feeling unmotivated, perhaps you need a routine for you to stay on track.
Try blocking off 30 minutes each day, either right after you wake up in the morning or before bed to study Spanish. To help you stay on track, consider keeping a journal to help you stay motivated by checking off each day that you have successfully completed your Spanish routines.
There you have it. With some work and planning, as well as the motivation to succeed, you will be on your way to your Spanish learning goals!