Keys to a Successful Spanish EssayThursday, March 11th, 2010
How to write a Spanish essay avoiding some common mistakes
Many times you may feel like you need help with essay writing. Well, surely if the essay is supposed to be written in a foreign language (as if you are required to hand in a Spanish essay) you may multiply by two the difficulty! Besides trying to figure out what to say, you also have to think very carefully how to say it. It doesn’t matter how much time we have been studying the second language: it’s never quite the same. As wearing a borrowed jacket that may fit us well, but still doesn’t feel exactly like our own.
English native speakers that learn Spanish many times run into the same difficulties… and end up making the same mistakes. But do not worry: here are some tips for helping you in your assignment writing in Spanish.
Lost in translation
When trying to work on an essay in a language different from your own (English), one tends to think in English and then translate each thought into Spanish rather than producing directly in the foreign language. This is a mistake, since the structure of every language is unique and can express ideas unlikely to be translated without being a bit changed. The best you can do if you need to prepare, for example, a dissertation writing in a language different than your, is try to forget about translating and actually think in the foreign language.
Some common mistakes in Spanish as a foreign language
In English we only have the verb to be, when in Spanish they use two different verbs (“ser” and “estar”) depending on the context. The verb “ser” in Spanish is irregular, and it is used typically to express a permanent state. As for the verb “estar” is more related to locations and temporally states. Anyway, if you have doubts a good bilingual dictionary could probably help you to solve them.
Another little but very common mistake is writing capital letters that we use in English but the Spanish language doesn’t. Months of the year is a good example. Another example are gentilic nouns or adjectives, we mean names for something belonging to a locality and derived from the name of the particular locality –the people from…-. We write British with a capital B, but there is no capital letter in “británico”).
When you finish writing…
Who can provide you some valuable coursework help when it’s up to writing in Spanish? Of course, the best choice is a native Spanish speaker, someone who can read your essay and tell you if it is easily readable or full of weird sounding expressions. Another good tip is using an online grammar and spell-checker, but this not only applies to your Spanish essay but to any writing task you are asked to do.
Anyway, relax and take it easy. With a little patience and some help you will surely write a Spanish essay that Cervantes himself wouldn’t complain about.