This post was originally posted on Babelhut.
Last night, having been delayed by sickness, I studied Step 2 of Spanish Step-by-Step. In this book, each chapter is called a step, which contains a list of sentences and phrases in Spanish which will introduce new words and concepts. At the end of each step is a section called “Instant Conversation” in which you read along with a conversation between Spanish-speaking people, followed by a quick test. Underneath each Spanish sentence or phrase is a line describing how to say the words, and underneath that is the English translation. Sprinkled between some of the sentences are little “sidebars” which explain new concepts or things to pay special attention to.
For the most part, I like this format. This seems a natural way to learn a language and the rules of grammar are presented in pieces as you read, rather than acting as a wall you must climb before you really learn anything.
While I like the format of the book, I think far too much was thrown at me at this step. This step contained all of the Spanish pronouns, three verbs and every possible conjugation of each of these verbs. While I’m sure that in the future these will be no big deal, I’ve never done any verb conjugation more than “yo hablo” (trans: I speak) and “Usted habla” (trans: you speak).
I have an idea about what I can do to avoid problems like this in the future. As I study I enter the sentences from the book into Mnemosyne, which slows me down for the purpose really learning the material later. Instead of forcing myself to complete a chapter as I did last night, I should just set aside a certain amount of time to study, maybe about an hour. I can apply this to my Greek study as well.
I will post in the next few days to see if this change in my study helps keep me from being overwhelmed by new material.