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An idea for learning to communicate concepts



I often find it's a bit too easy in the course to simply repeat phrases back that I've heard, collect the points and move on. Helpful no doubt but the phrases don't fall into the "now I can use them in a conversation" category. Here is what I've been doing to good effect in the context of an example...

1) I get to the point where I can repeat each of the following phrases individually (without looking at the text, of course):
- Bueno, necesitamos obtener nuestros boletos de tren para poder salir de aquí.
- Solo venden los boletos por unas cuantas horas.
- Y necesitamos encontrar un lugar para quedarnos porque el tren sale a las cinco de la mañana.

2) Then I think through what I'm trying to communicate:
- Get tickets
- Limited selling hours
- Need place to stay, departure @ 5AM

3) Finally I try to repeat the phrases exactly and all together as I would in a conversation. 

What this does is force me to think in terms of concepts while I'm speaking because there are too many words for me to keep in my "cabecita" at the same time. This also requires a lot more effort (and no points!) but I've noticed a significant improvement in my conversation skills if I do these exercises just prior to talking with one of my Spanish partners over Skype.

This example is taken from the Travelogue course but I'm sure this approach would work with any of the other courses as well.


This is a good concept, combining both rote learning and conceptualization.  
One of the problems I began to have with some of the free language learning programs I was using is that I got to a point where I could repeat things back verbatim on "automatic pilot", sometimes without any thought to the meaning.  
I'm a believer in memorization and repetition in my Spanish studies, but it's really all for nothing if I don't know what I'm saying, or if I'm unable to recall the sentences in the future when I need them.  

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