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Reading Spanish

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Reading Spanish

Reading comprehension is an excellent way of practicing a language. It exercises your brain to identify the words and structures you learned individually, and place them in a context.

A student who knows the individual words might not understand a complete paragraph, and why? Because the ability to understand the words within a context requires different skills. Reading will also allow your brain to get used to the foreign structures, until they become familiar.

Let’s see an example. In Spanish ‘red door’ translates as “puerta roja”; the adjective comes first in English, while it comes last in Spanish. This structure strikes as a bit odd at first because it would make more sense to say “roja puerta”, or even “rojo puerta” since in English adjectives do not have gender. But both these two translations are wrong. “Roja puerta” is grammatically correct, but it is not widely used, and “rojo puerta” is clearly wrong. When you are just getting acquainted with a new language, your brain will focus mostly on these issues and the comprehension of the full paragraph will be tiring and slow.

But don’t give up! Reading is the perfect way of getting your brain used to the new constructions. After you have done some reading, the “noun first, adjective last” construction will not sound odd anymore. Your brain will finally stop focusing on the individual issues and you will be able to “see the wider picture”, or understand the text as a whole. Let’s try it with a simple text.

“¡Hola! Me llamo José y soy español pero vivo en Francia con mi padre y mi madre. Tengo un gato de color blanco y gris; le gusta comer pescado. A mi me gusta jugar con mis amigos e ir al cine, pero no me gusta ir a la escuela. Tengo nueve años y ya pronto cumpliré diez. ¡Adiós!”

Now let’s see if you understand José. Try to answer: Is José Spanish or French? Who does he live with? Does he like fish? What does he like? And dislikes? How old is he? The paragraph is translated below.
 

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