Preparing for Re-entry
When you come back to school after a long summer vacation or semester free, you're not the only one struggling to get back into a routine. Teachers and professors have to deal with a crowd of students–some will inevitably be new faces–that may or may not have done any Spanish summer practice at all. Summer vacation is an extremely common topic of discussion in many classes, including foreign-language classes, because making you get up in front of the class and speak gives your teacher a chance to evaluate your language skills.
You don't have to worry about having perfect Spanish skills–after all, you're not teaching the class, you're taking it. But there are some things you can do to both maintain (or even improve) your Spanish during the summer.
Keep a Diary
Feeling a little fuzzy about what went on during the summer? Keeping a daily diary will not only help you remember, it'll also give you a chance to practice summer-related Spanish vocabulary. Don't worry, you don't have to keep the diary only in Spanish unless you want to (although this is one of the quickest ways to improve). But the more Spanish words and phrases you sprinkle through your diary–think subheadings, titles, or even just the occasional vocabulary word to stay in practice and make yourself feel cool–the more your Spanish summer practice is worth. Those words will stick with you and be readily available when you're up in front of the class trying to express what you did in Spanish.
Take it a step further: If you're a fan of the last-minute cram, you can prep for your first few Spanish classes by translating your English-language diary into Spanish. For every word you come across and don't know how to translate, make a flash card with either a picture or the English-language translation on one side and the Spanish word on the other. Study. Repeat.
You can prevent the regular fall scramble to remember last spring's skills by keeping in regular Spanish practice all summer long. Find non-diary ways of using your Spanish vocabulary. Talking to yourself on the beach may not be very cool–so why not buddy up with a friend from Spanish class and practice? You don't have to have long conversations, but even sprinkling simple phrases into your chit-chat will help you stay in practice.
Take it a step further: Ask your teacher about peer-tutoring opportunities if you think you're ready. There's no better way to retain your lessons than teaching others.
Your recitation of what you did during summer vacation probably won't be perfect. That's okay; you're still a student for a reason. It's also perfectly normal to lose a little bit of your ability to recall vocabulary or grammar if you haven't used Spanish over the summer at all. So before you get up in front of the class, take a deep breath and remember that this is, above all else, a learning opportunity. Your grade won't be made or broken on the basis of this one assignment, but your motivation might. Use this experience as a chance to set your goals for the semester. Feeling frustrated? Use a few proven language-learning strategies to keep in practice next time you've got a little free time. Preparation is the name of the game, and even if you missed out on the Spanish summer practice opportunities, you can still practice regularly during the fall.