If there is one thing that all the people who come to study Spanish in Valencia agree on, it’s the complexity of the verbal tenses of our language. No matter how hard it is for us Spaniards to study English, German or Chinese, Spanish is really difficult for those that start from scratch, especially in forms such as the subjunctive.
The subjunctive is a grammatical way that serves to refer to hypothetical, uncertain statements or desires. It is present in a number of Indo-European languages such as Romance languages or Germanic languages as a form capable of indicating real and ascertain facts, like the indicative does, but also to talk about possibility, probability, hypothesis, beliefs, desires, necessities and fears. Not only students who wish to study Spanish in Valencia or perfect their language, but also the teachers of Spanish philology themselves find it difficult, despite their training, to convey the subjunctive to their students. It is sometimes very complicated to explain to our students or our foreign friends the usefulness of the use of the subjunctive.
Do you know that the subjunctive mode is usually studied at the intermediate levels at school and that this is when the highest drop-out rate exists? We don’t want to disillusion you, only motivate you so that you can see that even the natives themselves have trouble learning the subjunctive! When studying Spanish in Valencia, we must be aware that we will be able to absorb like a sponge the different concepts, uses, verbal tenses, grammar, vocabulary and lexicon of the Spanish language, but without comparing them to our mother tongue. This is the soul of understanding any language, and specifically when studying the subjunctive in Spanish. What tips could we follow to make our learning effective?
1. Thinking and speaking in Spanish
Perhaps this is one of the most repeated instructions given by Spanish language teachers to their students. The worst thing we can do is compare the two languages with each other, since in many occasions there are no connecting links or reasonable explications as to why certain uses are made in Spanish. Even if there were two languages of Latin origin, we would find big differences between them. Something that gets asked a lot by lots of English students is why do the Spanish make such a big deal out of saying the same thing?
2. Knowing how to differentiate their uses
In the vast majority of cases we tend to think that all the functions of the subjunctive follow the same criteria to express every subordinate phrase in the subjunctive or indicative. However, not all communicative functions use the subjunctive mode following the same criteria.
3. Knowing its nature
The subjunctive is a mode, not a verbal tense as such. Getting to know it will open up a whole world of possibilities. Don’t study it like you studied the difference between the imperfect and the indefinite past, because it will not work.
4. Comparison of verbal tenses
Most of the time, there is no better way of studying Spanish in Valencia than by comparing the concepts already learnt with each other. If we are able to differentiate the uses of the subjunctive with the rest of the verbal tenses we will have taken a good step in our learning.
5. Spatial mentality
The subjunctive is a verbal mode that will allow us to refer to future desires and hypotheses in the present. We will be able to develop our communicative skills and our mental agility.
6. Need for usefulness
If, despite the fact we have assimilated in theory the use of the subjunctive mode, but we have not seen it used in practice, it would be advisable for our environment (teachers, classmates and friends) to speak to us and respond to them in the subjunctive mode. Necessity makes a man an expert!
7. Develop our communicative habits
The best way to learn is by talking, practicing in front of the mirror or writing down on a piece of paper every time we read or hear an expression in the subjunctive mode on the radio or television.
8. Music as a tool
There is no better way to assimilate the verbal tenses in a language than through the memorisation of those musical themes that we like the most. There are many songs in Spanish that speak of impossible desires, dreams, goals and loves. Thanks to music, learning Spanish in Valencia will be easier!
9. Putting ourselves in the hands of the best teachers
As with everything in life, when we decide to learn Spanish in Valencia, it is very important to select the best school that can teach us the keys to the language and the best tricks and techniques for learning the most complex aspects of the language.
10. Don’t overload yourself
When we see that we are frustrated or that it is not possible for us to assimilate a new subjunctive verbal tense, it is best to take a break.
Don’t get frustrated! Nobody said that learning Spanish in Valencia was easy! You just need to dedicate time, effort and enthusiasm to understand all the ins and outs of the Spanish language from the point of view of a native Spanish speaker, because only then will we be able to understand the subjunctive mode. A team of expert teachers will be of great help to us.