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Spanish Language 101: What to Learn First and Where to go Next

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 7/12/2012

Teaching the Spanish language is much more exciting than a decade or more ago but if you're new to teaching this language what should you teach first? Here, we look at learning the alphabet, numbers and simple words to form sentences.

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    Spanish ABC

    The Spanish alphabet is called el alfabeto or el abecedario. It is made up of 29 letters, only three letters more than those of the English alphabet. It is the tool that will take the student of Spanish through the language. It is what to learn first when teaching Spanish. Once the student has mastered the abecedario, he can move on to learning numbers and survival words and phrases. It is important though to revise the alphabet on a regular basis, because students tend to forget. Every week take some time to have students spell their names and names of the cities, towns or villages and countries where their friends and relatives live. Have them play at calling each other on the telephone and pretending that they did not understand a name and ask each other to spell hat name.

    The three extra letters in the Spanish alphabet are an extra n, an extra r and ch. The letter ch comes immediately after the letter c. An orthographic accent called a tilda or un tilde in Spanish is placed over the letter n. It looks like this: ñ. A double rr is placed after the letter r and is more strongly trilled. It is also important to note that the letter w is pronounced as a double v.

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    After students have learned the Spanish alphabet, they should immediately move on to learning numbers. Do this in stages. Teach them the numbers one to ten. When they are comfortable with this, move on to 11 to 20. Once they are comfortable with these, impress on them how easy it is to work the numbers up to 100, just by knowing the numbers one through nine. They simply learn the tens from 20 to 90, and place the numbers one to nine next to them accordingly. For example: veinte y uno or veintíuno = 21, treinta y dos = 32, cuarenta y tres = 43, cincuenta y cuatro = 54, sesenta y cinco = 65, setenta y seis =76, ochenta y siete = 87, noventa y ocho = 98 , and noventa y nueve = 99.

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    Basic Words and Phrases

    Your students are now ready to move on to words and phrases which can be used for basic survival. Here are some of these words arranged alphabetically, and some phrases made from combining some of these words..

    a - un, una , am – soy, estoy, and - y, are – son, están

    because - porque, boy -muchacho

    can – poder, cannot/can't – no poder

    doctor - doctor, to drink- beber

    to eat – comer, evening - tarde, excuse me - perdóneme

    from - de

    to get – conseguir, to give - dar, to go -ir, good - bueno, goodbye/bye - Adíos

    here - aquí, to have tener, he – él, help -ayuda, how? - cómo

    I - Yo, it- él, ella

    to know – saber, I know – Yo sé, I don’t know – No sé

    left - izquierda, to like - gustar, to live - vivir, lost – perdido(a)

    to mean – querer decir, to meet - encontrar, morning - mañana, my - mi

    name - nombre, night - noche, no - no, not, nothing - nada

    Okay - bien, one – uno

    please – por favor,

    repeat - repita, right - derecha

    she - ella slowly, - lentamente, sorry - siento, speak - hable, stop - alto, straight ahead – todo derecho

    to take - tomar, to tell - decir, thanks - gracias, that - eso, esa, the - el, la, this - este, esta, these- estos, estas, time - la hora,el tiempo

    to understand - comprender

    very -muy

    ¿what? - qué, where –¿ dónde?, which, - ¿cuál? ¿why - por qué,

    yes – sí,, you – tú, usted, your - su

    Here are some of the above words combined to make basic expressions:

    What is your name?

    ¿Cómo se llama?

    My name is…

    Me llamo…

    Where are you from? –

    ¿De dónde es?

    I am from…

    Soy de…

    I don't understand

    No comprendo, No entiendo.

    Please speak slowly.

    Por favor, hable lentamente.

    I need a doctor

    Yo necesito un doctor.

    Where is the restroom?

    ¿Dónde está el baño?

    You can make dozens of sentences with these words. Try it, and have fun as you pursue what to teach and when in your Spanish classroom.