A-level Spanish can be challenging just it is at GCSE level, especially if you struggle with pronunciation and speaking fluency.
Though speaking might be the most challenging element to master, the aspects of the language that will be tested in the exam are reading, listening, writing, and speaking.
To nail the exam, you’ll need to find a rhythm with your A-level Spanish revision and structure your days so that you get at least an hour or so of studying in on a consistent basis.
Aside from structuring your revision sessions, it’s essential to make sure you use the best resources for revising Spanish to give yourself the best chance of acing the exam.
We’ll touch upon some of the top A-level Spanish resources you can use to do well in the exam, as well as provide general tips and tricks so you can feel confident when exam day arrives.
If cognate isn’t a word you’re familiar with, you’re in for a treat!
Cognates are words that have the same linguistic derivation as words from other languages, so in this case, a cognate would be a word that shares a linguistic root in both English and Spanish.
What this means for you is that you already know many more Spanish words than you think.
Once you take the time to learn the most common suffixes for Spanish words and what the English equivalents are, you will have an extensive vocabulary to draw upon in the exam.
This is like a life hack for learning A-level Spanish vocabulary, and it can provide you with a repertoire of words that you can rely on in the heat of the moment and give you an edge on exam day.
There are literally thousands of cognates shared by English and Spanish, so if you take the time to learn some of them, you will be rewarded greatly.
Let’s take a look at some useful examples.
Believe it or not, some Spanish cognates mirror the English words letter for letter, as is the case with ‘actor,’ ‘admirable,’ and ‘area.’ While the pronunciation will be different since you don’t have to worry about speaking for this exam that shouldn’t be an issue.
The one thing to be careful with here is those words that have the same spelling but carry an accent in Spanish, such as ‘Explosión’ or ‘Excursión.’
Next, we have near-perfect cognates, which are almost exactly identical but with a different suffix. This includes words like ‘Acción,’ ‘Atención,’ and ‘Celebración.’
As you can see in the case of these three words, the -tion suffix of the English word is replaced with -ión in Spanish. This is a rule you can then apply to many more words to expand your vocabulary.
There are many more examples of cognates that sound similar to the English words but with different endings or letters, and we implore you to seek out one of the many Spanish cognate lists online to study them in more depth.
Cognates are an extremely valuable resource that you should tap into if you want to broaden your vocabulary almost immediately.
Study Past Papers
We’re sure you’ve already been bombarded with lectures on how you need to be doing past papers on an almost daily basis to do well in the exam.
And we’re here to tell you that, unfortunately, it is necessary to get a clear idea of what to expect on exam day.
What’s so valuable about looking at and studying past papers is that they provide the keys to what will be on your exam when it comes around. While the same content won’t come up and trying to predict the topics can be a pointless exercise, there are some things you’ll be able to predict from doing past papers.
The key is to go through as many past papers as possible (every one that’s available if possible) and identify patterns regarding the types of questions that come up regularly in each section.
For example, if you notice that there’s always an open-ended question in the writing portion of the exam which draws upon your personal life experiences, then you know what to practice.
Use this information to create your own questions and exercises, and that way, you can test yourself in the same way you will be challenged in the exam.
To find the relevant past papers for you, you’ll need to find out what exam paper you are going to take the exam with. If you don’t already know this information, then don’t hesitate to reach out to your teacher and find out. Then it’s simply a case of heading to the exam board’s website and searching for the Spanish past papers.
Flashcards are synonymous with the laminated pieces of card you might associate with learning animals or other nouns as a young student.
However, they can also be a valuable resource for learning a foreign language, whatever age the student. And no, this doesn’t mean you’ll need to rope in a friend to hold up flashcards with a Spanish word on one side and an English word on the other.
In fact, we would strongly recommend against this approach since this method doesn’t help you build a connection to the Spanish word. For example, if you learn that ‘dog’ is ‘perro’ in Spanish, it isn’t as likely to burn into your memory the idea that ‘perro’ is the word for the beloved pet, as much as seeing a photo of a dog alongside the word would.
That’s why we believe you should use flashcards to learn new Spanish vocabulary, but with images on the flip side instead of English words. This will work even better if you have some kind of emotional connection with the photosince a memory forms more concretely as you engage more senses.
So if you can learn that your furry friend is a ‘perro’ and use a photo of them in a flashcard, then you’re much more likely to memorize the word than if you just put the word ‘dog’ on the other side.
We also suggest that you download flashcard software, like Anki, since apps like this use spaced repetition to prompt you just when you’re on the verge of forgetting a word.
One of the best (and most fun) ways to improve your Spanish is using real-life materials. This extends to any of your hobbies or activities you enjoy doing. This is the beauty of learning a foreign language: you can do exactly what you like to do, but in the target language, and you can learn!
We would recommend that you figure out what you enjoy to read, listen to, or watch and then find an entertaining equivalent in Spanish. For some, this might be reading superhero comic books in Spanish; for others, it might be listening to Spanish rap music or watching Spanish Netflix shows on TV.
The possibilities are endless when you consider making your entertainment Spanish, which makes studying a breeze.
In some cases, you don’t even need to seek out material that was created in Spain or other Spanish-speaking countries, as you can just find a dubbed or translated version. Many popular books will have Spanish translations such as the Harry Potter series, or of popular TV shows like ‘Friends’ which will be dubbed into Spanish.
It is worth bearing in mind, though, that it is always best to find source material that was originally created in Spanish. You’ll soon realise why if you start to watch an episode of ‘Friends’ in Spanish and have trouble following the Spanish because the actor’s mouths don’t reflect what is being said. This won’t be as much of an issue with text, since more often than not, translations of popular books and magazines will be reliable and definitely good enough for you to practise with.
To really test yourself and get the most out of the Spanish real-life materials you consume, you can come up with ways to engage with them. If it’s a TV show, you can challenge yourself to recap the episode to a friend or family member, either through speech or writing. If it’s a book, you could write a summary on the chapter you just read or simply pick out the words you aren’t familiar with and look them up in a dictionary to expand your vocabulary. If it’s music or a podcast, then you could try to repeat what you hear or if you want to practise your writing skills, you could transcribe a few lines.
The use of real-life materials is the one thing about foreign languages that can make them infinitely interesting to study since learning more can mean diving deeper into your own interests and curiosities.
Nothing is out of bounds in this regard, provided that whatever you consume has Spanish text or audio for you to follow.