Effective Ways To Learn Spanish At Home

fingers2Everyone has different reasons for learning or wanting to learn a language. Some choose to do so for necessity, perhaps work related. Some wish to learn the basics for a summer vacation. Others have a desire to become almost fluent for an upcoming traveling adventure. Then there are those studying as an addition to a school or university program.

When you consider what language lessons you ought to take, Spanish ought to be at the top of the list. You will soon discover that it is a challenging, but rewarding, experience. There are many pitfalls to avoid, but also some shortcuts and simple techniques to use to ensure success. Whatever your reasons for studying Spanish are, there are many ways in which to study and here I will discuss some options available to learn Spanish at home.

The first important thing one needs to do when starting to study a new language is to make a plan and set some targets. Set aside certain times of the day and week that will be dedicated to studying. It is known that the mind adapts to routine activities, so get into good habits. Then think about how comprehensive you wish your Spanish to be and what the core areas to focus on are. Do you need a basic, conversational or business level?

In terms of learning methods, there are plenty from which to choose. A traditional tried and tested method to learn the Spanish language at home is through the use of textbooks. By reading explanations and completing exercises, one will be able to grasp the grammar associated with the Spanish language. To accompany the exercises, practice speaking aloud all words, sentences, and expressions.

Another option to learn Spanish from your home would be through audio CDs, which are available in abundance. These usually follow a story and will include sections for the learner to test themselves and practice using the dialogue. Their main advantage is that they can be listened to at anytime, when cooking, cleaning or simply relaxing on the sofa.

Nowadays, anybody can learn any language from their home through language learning computer software that provides either online or offline interactive classes. There are many available, some free and others that require a payment or subscription, and each varies in style and content. These types of classes provide activities on all aspects the language which can be completed as and when you have the time to do so.  Check out this writeup on one of our favorite programs, Rocket Spanish.

Other ways to assist in your learning could be as follows. Listen to Spanish music in order for your ear to become familiar with the sounds of the language. Try reading, and translating, short articles from Spanish to your own tongue and vice versa. Find a friend to practice with over a coffee or lunch.

The above mentioned are a few ideas to take into account in your quest to learn The Spanish language at home. Remember that fluency will not be achieved overnight, however, the harder you study the quicker you will reach your target.

Orchid Sexuality

orchidpollenOrchid sexuality is a very interesting topic that has been studied for decades.  It’s quite difficult to study the pollination patterns, however it’s interesting to note that certain elements can often produce great results.

Studying pollination in natural populations of sexually deceptive orchids can be difficult because of the brevity of each wasp visit and the often low frequency of pollinators. However, the populations of wasps and flowers are not congruent, and when “bait” flowers are introduced into populations of the appropriate wasp, males locate the flowers very quickly, and efficient experimental work is possible. Using this experimental approach with the deceptive orchid Drakaea glyptodon, Peakall (1990) identified two features that are critical to experimental design. First, following an initial rapid response at a single location, the number of visits declines dramatically and few visits are observed after 5 min. Relocation of the same flowers from several to many meters causes a renewed response. It is therefore necessary to move bait flowers regularly to maintain flower visits and to avoid trials near natural populations of the flower. Second, individual flowers can vary significantly in attractiveness, probably because of differing concentrations of emitted pheromones. Therefore, an attempt to use more or less equally attractive flowers is critical in pollinator-choice experiments. This is preferable to using many flowers of varying quality, which quickly deplete natural populations.

Although some pollination had occurred in these orchid populations, pollinators were uncommon. Therefore, each morning whole plants with fresh flowers were collected and transported in vials of water to an open eucalyptus woodland site (Felled Timber Road, Porters Retreat) 30 km west of Kanangra Boyd National Park, where the orchid was rare but the wasp pollinator was abundant. To test the hypothesis that floral height affects pollinator visitation rate, we conducted a series of choice experiments by synchronously presenting two flowers 15 cm high and two flowers at an alternate height of either 2, 8, 22, 30, 50, or 100 cm. In 1992, the alternate heights were restricted to 8, 22, 30, and 50 cm. The standard height of 15 cm was chosen because it approximated the maximum natural height of the flowers. Alternate heights ranged from ground level (2 cm) to 100 cm, which represents the maximum floral height observed for any sexually deceptive orchid in Australia. Thus, the experiments were restricted to biologically realistic heights even though thynnines frequently fly to and forage on shrubs and trees well over 100 cm high (Ridsdill Smith 1970a,b; Peakall 1990). To minimize the possible bias associated with unequally attractive flowers, we first selected flowers that each were attractive to the wasps in a preliminary presentation. In addition, each height choice experiment consisted of a set of 4, 6, or 8 trials in which different pairs of flowers were displayed together at each trial, and each flower was represented equally at both heights. At least three replicate experiments were conducted for each height choice with a different set of flowers. Each trial was conducted for 5 min at different locations and the time of day, number of wasp visits, and behavior during each visit were recorded. Many wasps circled the flowers, but a “visit” was recorded only if the insect landed on the plant.

Excerpt: Handel, Steven N., and Rod Peakall. “Pollinators discriminate among floral heights of a sexually deceptive orchid: implications for selection.” Evolution 47.6 (1993): 1681+.