Bacteriophage: May 2015

Beginners Spanish exercises


Certain Spanish concepts can be confusing for beginners. Here, Carmichael, CA Spanish tutor Joan B. shares some effective exercises to master the basics of the Spanish language…

With lots of new concepts, words, and ideas, learning Spanish can be difficult for beginners. The following exercises will help you become more proficient with the building blocks of the language. Practice these Spanish exercises for beginners to feel more comfortable and confident speaking and writing in Spanish.

1. Recite Verb Conjugations

Verb conjugation is one of the keys to speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish. When you can easily conjugate verbs with the different endings, -ar, -er, and -ir, you can say a lot of things and express a variety of ideas.

Choose a verb from each ending group, and recite the conjugations for different subjects. For example, conjugate caminar: camino, caminas, camina, caminamos, camináis, caminan. When you can recite the verbs in this way, you will have no problem remembering specific conjugations.

2. Repeat Subject Pronouns

It’s easy to confuse Spanish subject pronouns when you’re creating a sentence. Students often mix up he and she, or you all and them. Repeat the subject pronouns in order: yo, tú, usted, él, ella, nosotros, vosotros, ustedes, ellos. Then, repeat the pronouns and match them with various verb conjugations.

3. Identify Colors

Learning the colors in Spanish will enhance your vocabulary and help you be more descriptive while speaking or writing. All you need for this exercise is a magazine. Flip through the magazine and identify the items you know in Spanish. Say the word out loud, and then name the color. This is also a great way to practice agreement in Spanish, since the noun has to agree with the adjective in gender and number (una casa blanca, not una casa blanco).

Joan Banna4. Match Adjectives and Nouns

As you continue to learn Spanish, you should try to increase the complexity of what you’re able to express, so you can talk about interests, ideas, needs, and desires. Practice matching adjectives with nouns. This helps you describe the noun with more detail; it’s more descriptive to say “un muchacho bajo” than just “un muchacho.”

You can practice this by flipping through a book and choosing vocabulary, or you can use everyday objects that you know in Spanish. Then, pick an appropriate adjective to describe each object. This exercise also tests your ability to make the noun and adjective agree in number and gender (i.e. los escritorios pequeños, not los escritorios pequeña).

5. Write a Story

Understanding when to use ser vs. estar is extremely important in Spanish. To practice this, write a simple story in English that uses the verb “to be” (I am, you are, he is, she is, we are, you all are, they are). Circle all the instances of “to be” in your story, and then decide whether you should use ser or estar in Spanish.

Write the correct conjugation of ser or estar above the English word. A good way to distinguish between the two is to ask yourself if the situation is referring to a temporary state, condition, or location. If you’re talking about a condition or location, you should use estar. Use ser if you’re describing things like origin, profession, dates, times, or traits.

Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!



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