Aiming for a little Spanish success

I studied Spanish to A Level standard (many moons ago!) and
every year I plan to brush up my skills, as it is such a shame to lose
the ability to speak a language. I have decided now is the time to ‘refresh’ myself and I thought I would run through my experience with you.


Firstly, I have tried several ‘teach yourself’ language packs, which I have detailed below:

Linguaphone – Beginner to intermediate course

The course follows Linda who works for a company called SnakTrak as she learns the language. I have to say, I personally found the story a little boring and really struggled to get myself to listen to the course to get the full benefit. However, it is very well written and goes through all of the basics.
It is available directly from Linguaphone website.

Michael Gruneburg: Instant Recall Spanish Vocabulary

The system says you will learn and remember
Spanish faster than you ever imagined possible. I do agree with that statement, in so far as learning basic vocabulary goes. The word association is great for helping you remember, for example, table is mesa and you remember this by imagining a ‘messy table’. The only downside however, is there is only around 200 words.

The CD is available at Amazon.


Uses the theory that music helps you remember the
language. The theory is fully explained on the Earworms website.
There are three audio book volumes to the language programme. I downloaded the first volume this morning from the iTunes store (£7.95) directly onto my phone. I am listening to it now whilst I am writing this blog post and I love it! Alternatively, languages can be purchased from the Earworms website.

Don’t forget to learn the verbs and grammar…

Learning a language by listening to CDs/downloads, is
usually only great for vocabulary and phrases. I am also trying to brush up on
the dreaded, but essential verbs and grammar, as this is usually the most difficult part to learn. Here are a few books that I have found helpful.
Firstly, a verb table and grammar book:


A good basic dictionary:

One good all-in-one basic book I have found is Spanish for Dummies, as it covers verbs, grammar and all of the basics of the language.


Other ways to learn a language at home:

I have found that the BBC have a great range of FREE information and language courses online. You can actually sign up to the 12 week Mi Vida Loca and print off your certificate at the end!

Language schools:

If you aren’t ready, or don’t have the money to sign up for a course yet, then many language schools offer reading groups and social activities to get you engaged with fellow enthusiasts for a smaller fee. For example, Instituto Cervantes have centres in Manchester, Leeds and
London. I have signed up to receive information from Manchester and they regularly email about reading groups, events and course start dates, etc:



Have any of you got any great tips for learning languages? I would love to hear your experiences.

Thanks for reading xoxo 


Revision and exam preparation tips

My brother asked for some tips to revise for his Science GCSE in the garden yesterday. He was telling me that he has three weeks until his exam, but that some people haven’t even started revising!
I just wanted to share with you some of the tips and tricks that have helped me during my stressful revision periods and ensured that I achieved good grades.

The lead up to the exam:

  1. Keep calm – as hard as that is, panicking will only take up your valuable energy sources and stop you revising properly.
  2. Get organised – only you will know how long you have until your exam and how many topics you have to revise for. So you will need to:
  • Be clear on the dates of your exams and whether they are a.m. or p.m.
  • Set yourself a manageable revision timetable –
  •  Study in smaller chunks with regular breaks so you stay focused.
  • What are you going to revise from – your class
    notes, a dedicated revision book or a combination of the two?
  • Make clear, concise revision notes. Flash cards are also a good way to make notes. For example, Quizlet lets you create you own set of flash cards, which are great for language, or just good old fashioned hand-written cards from any good stationers.
  • Use acronyms to help you remember – even if they only make sense to yourself! The classic example in Geography is North, East, South, West, and can easily remembered by ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’.
  • Stationery – highlighters are a great way to focus your mind on a word or phrase so that it sticks in your mind. Also you will need pens, paper, etc. if you want to handwrite your revision notes.  It is also a good idea to get a clear pencil case that you can use in the exam.
  • Past papers – either your school/college/university will provide these, or otherwise most exam
    boards will have printable versions of exam papers and mark schemes that you
    can download.
  • Eat properly – as with sleep, it is essential to eat properly. A good tip is to have something to snack on when you are revising to keep your energy levels up. I used to find that walnuts were great for revising with as they have been found to contain antioxidants to strengthen memory. Other good healthy snack foods to have to hand are chopped carrots or celery.

The night before the exam

  1. Make sure you know where your exam is and how you are going to get there.
  2. Have your clothes and your bag packed with any materials you will need for the exam – e.g. pens, pencil, calculator, etc. This will make you feel more prepared and you won’t be panicking and rushing around the morning of the exam looking for them.
  3. Relax as much as possible – if you have done all the hard work revising, you won’t forget it all by the morning, so have a nice
    bath. This will also help you sleep better.
  4. Sleep – it may be tempting to cram all night, but in reality you will be too tired to concentrate. Make sure you are properly
    rested to achieve the best you can.

The morning of the exam

  1. Glance over your notes if this helps, but not if it will make you panic about what you don’t know. I personally found it reassuring to read over my notes.
  2. Have a good breakfast. I usually have something filling, containing slow release energy, for example beans and scrambled egg on wholemeal toast. You may also want to take a banana or some sweets and a bottle of water into the exam with you to keep you
    going (if permitted).
  3. Avoid talking to fellow students about the exam before you go in. They are bound to say something you haven’t revised and that will make you panic.

Good luck!
Thanks for reading xoxo