From years of tutoring students at local high schools, I have come up with some tips on first year high school Spanish for students and parents. I hope these are helpful to you!

Strive to achieve at least a B or higher

You want to strive for a B or higher in first year high school Spanish because with language learning what you learn continues to build on itself as you move forward. If you don’t have a solid grasp of what you learn in first year high school Spanish, second year will be really hard. In some academic subjects when you finish a unit, you don’t necessarily need what you learned in that unit for what is next. But with language learning you continually build on what came before.

Second and third year Spanish are the two hardest years. There is an increase in quantity of verb conjugation and grammar learned. So it is really important to have a solid foundation from first year.

Don’t get behind

Because language learning relies on carrying everything you learn forward, when you get behind, you have a really hard time catching up because you have to use what was taught before to build on new material.

Don’t wait to get tutoring help

If you begin to have difficulties, get help before your difficulties build up. Sometimes just a few meetings with a tutor can bring you back up to speed without having to continue tutoring through the whole school year.

Be sure to know vocabulary from English to Spanish

When preparing for a test that includes vocabulary, be sure you know the vocabulary words translating from English to Spanish both orally and written. Many students think they know vocabulary words because when they see them in Spanish they know the English. But, that is easy. It’s when you can translate the other direction that you REALLY know it.

Focus on knowing the vocabulary words most used

All the students I tutored had to know a large number of vocabulary words for quizzes and tests for each chapter in their textbook. For those students who found learning a large number of Spanish vocabulary words really difficult or impossible, I would advise them to focus on knowing the vocabulary words that were used the most frequently in the chapter. Some less commonly used words, like “horse saddle” or “toll booth”, are just not words that will show up frequently down the road. And if they show up on the test, there won’t be many of them. So, missing them will not make a big difference on your overall test performance.

Treat verbs like vocabulary words

Many students don’t think they need to remember the meanings of verbs, but as I said, all that you learn carries forward. So, if you don’t know the meanings of verbs, you won’t be able to understand sentences and reading passages as you move forward. Also, just like vocabulary, focus on the verbs that you see are used the most frequently. Those are the ones that will keep showing up the most as you move forward.

Get tutoring help if you have difficulty understanding things in context

If you have a hard time filling in blanks of sentences that are in paragraph form or answering questions from passages, a tutor can help you to learn to translate or decipher meaning from these contextual situations.

Discuss any learning disabilities or challenges with your teacher or tutor

It is important for them to know what your difficulties are so they know how to help you as needed and teach you strategies you can use to succeed.

I hope these tips can help your child be successful in his or her first year of high school Spanish. Sometimes just having a little helpful advice at the get go can make all the difference.


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