Study Strategies for Spanish

General Advice

  • Study at least 1 hour/day every day…including weekends. Really. Mastering small amounts of information at a time will help your brain form patterns and links, bringing everything together. CRAMMING WILL NOT WORK.
  • Use only Spanish while studying Spanish. If you listen to music while studying, listen to music in Spanish. If you need to text (ideally, don’t), text in Spanish, not English. Interruptions, especially in English, will keep your mind from absorbing the Spanish.


  • Use note cards or Quizlet. Write the word out while saying it in Spanish and English.
  • Practice writing out definitions in Spanish for each word.
  • With a study partner, play Taboo or 20 Questions with vocabulary words.


  • Create 2 columns on a note card, one for 1st, 2nd, 3rd person singular, the other for 1st, 2nd, 3rd person plural. Taking one verb at a time, practice saying each conjugation aloud until you can do so without looking at the notecard.
  • Color-code each particular tense (e.g., write out the present indicative conjugations in blue).

Ser & Estar

  • Focus on one of the two and memorize when to use that particular form of “to be.”
  • Once you’ve mastered one form--Estar, for example--you’ll know by default when it cannot be used and therefore when to use Ser.
  • Formulate acronyms. For example, Estar is used to indicate temporary states and locations. Think of the acronym PLACE, which stands for Position, Location, Action, Condition, and Emotion.

Using Supersite (for Dr. Bauer's 201 students)

  • Pretend the individual exercises on Supersite are mini-quizzes and do them without using your book.
  • If you receive a poor score, return to the grammar point in your book to study some more. Then, when you’re ready, try the exercise again. IMPORTANT: Don’t rely on your book while doing the exercises since you won’t be able to use your book during an exam.
  • For particular grammar points, use the Tutorials tab.
  • Gain more practice by doing any of the unassigned activities.
  • Take the Diagnostic Quiz at the end of each leccion (under the Assessment tab).
  • For grammar explanations and mini-quizzes, try (a free site).

Listening Exercise Tips

  • When listening to audio exercises, listen the first time through with your eyes closed. Then read over the corresponding exercise’s questions and go back and listen to the audio clip again. It’s normal to listen to a clip 5+ times—the more you do so, over time, the better you’ll become at discerning what is being said.
  • If you really want to push yourself, or if you’re really struggling with this skill, write out what is being said. By doing this, you’re forcing your brain to focus on individual words in order to make them fit linguistically in a sentence that makes sense.

More Helpful Tips

Used with permission from Rachel Bauer, Assistant Professor at Rhodes College.