My name is Jessica Fields, and I will be an English language assistant at IES Clara Campoamor this year. I am very excited to get to know you all and learn a lot together in the coming months.
I’ve included some photos here to give a more visual introduction to myself and to provide some background information about me. Please take a look – I’d love to chat more with you about anything I’ve included here!
I took Spanish in school for many years, though my Spanish is now very rusty and I want to improve. But through the many classes I have taken, I have learned a bit more about what helps me as a learner of a second language. While everyone learns in a different way, I hope these tips about what has helped me will be useful to some of you as you work on improving your English.
Using context to help me determine what a word means instead of going straight to a dictionary (or, these days, to google translate). In other words, if I am reading text that I do not understand, using the surrounding sentences or visuals to help me infer what the words or phrases I don’t understand might mean.
Repetition is key. Saying new words and phrases many times (in context!). Hearing them used many times. Writing them down many times. Reading them many times. Repetition helps cement new words, phrases, and grammatical rules into my mind.
Combining listening, reading, and visuals as much as possible. For instance, drawing illustrations to go along with text, reading along while listening to a native speaker read aloud, and writing captions to pictures or video clips all help me make sure I am correctly interpreting a language.
Speaking as much as possible in a supportive environment. While I definitely get nervous when speaking in a second language, it is important for me to work to overcome that fear. I may be scared that I will mess up, worried that other people will think less of me if I say something incorrect, or just be frustrated that I cannot express myself as easily as I can in my native language. But having a supportive and trusting environment helps me remember that it’s okay to make mistakes and that I’ll actually learn more that way!
Staying away from translating everything in my head as much as possible. This is definitely still hard for me as I work on improving my Spanish. But what helps me most with this is making sure that when I am practicing my second language, I am ONLY using that language. I am trying my best not to pause to speak in my native language, even if only to ask how to say something in the language I am learning. Trying as much as possible to explain my way around words I don’t know and only using the language I am learning will help me get away from always translating in my head.
If anyone has additional about what works best for them when learning another language, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time,