Learning Spanish in La Rioja
The challenges of learning Spanish

This conversational Spanish course navigates what could otherwise be an arduous process in bite-size pieces, enabling students to articulate in a simple yet effective way and at the same time keep to the structure and layout of the Spanish language.

So what are the most difficult things that an English-speaking person needs to learn in order to be able to speak Spanish?

Spanish verbs
Spanish verb forms are one of the trickiest to master, and Spaniards do this by starting to learn them from a very young age. The challenge for us is to comprehend and digest this completely different structure and approach to verbs. Most verbs in Spanish have about 117 conjugations, compared to 4/5 in English.

In order to speak Spanish with fluency and proficiency, one would have to come to terms with at least the following: the present, preterit, imperfect, subjunctive, past subjunctive, present perfect, future and conditional forms. That’s over half of the forms of both regular and irregular verbs.

For example, in English, we use the present, the past and the past participle – I eat, I am eating, I ate, I have eaten. But, for example, if we want to use the verb ‘to walk’ in Spanish – ‘andar’ – we need to learn Ando, he andado, anduve, andaba, andaré, ande, andaría, anduviera o anduviese, había andado, hubiera o hubiese andado, etc.

Multiple uses of subjunctive
Mood - that is, a way of speaking that allows people to express their attitude toward what they are saying.

In English, we tend not to use subjunctive in this way as we direct mood with the use of adjectives and adverbs.

The subjunctive appears when we speak about an emotion, a wish or something that is hypothetical.

The masculine and the feminine
Again, this is something else we do not apply in English, where we use non-genitive forms of nouns. In Spanish, nouns are either masculine or feminine, such as el agua, la mano, el mapa, el cura, el policia y la policia, el capital y la capital, where ‘la’ is feminine, and ‘el’ is masculine.

Furthermore, we always have to bear in mind that the article and the adjective have to be the same gender as the noun: el coche rojo, las manzanas rojas.

The difference between the verbs SER and ESTAR
In English, we have the verb ‘To Be’, but in Spanish, we have two verbs ‘To Be’.

The verb SER is used for permanent situations, and the verb ESTAR is used for situations that can change and geographical and physical places.