Situational Approach for Learning Spanish: A Natural Way to
Talking Spanish in Real-Like Situations
This method is an improvement of the direct method, through
applying a scientific concept in it. It is very widely used in self-learning tutorials, mostly
Many years ago it was discovered that every language has a set of “core vocabulary”
which represents a set of about 2500 words most often used in that language.
What is more, the knowledge of these words is a key to a fast progress and
language mastering. “Core grammar” was defined as the most frequently used grammatical structures.
Description of situational approach
for learning Spanish
- The combination of “core grammar” and “core vocabulary” was embedded in a
number of lessons each one out of which represents a real life situation, with real and plausible
- The Spanish lessons could be interrelated to each other (i.e. centered around
a common plot – a story with many parts) or not interrelated.
- What is different in comparison to the direct method is the idea of a careful
and targeted selection and arrangement of specific combinations of words and grammar. Again in comparison with
the direct method, the keywords here are “situation” and “context”.
- Learning Spanish words and phrases in situations and context helps both to
memorize the grammar and vocabulary more quickly and acquire a solid basis for contextual learning after the
Spanish beginner’s course is over.
Benefits of situational approach for learning Spanish
- The approach is well balanced between vocabulary and grammar. What is more,
it’s always possible to put a stress onto either vocabulary or grammar.
- The approach is easy to implement in a learning program. For this reason
often you could get best value for the price.
- Again the attention is paid on everyday situations and real life spoken
Spanish. What is more, in general things seem to be easier for adults, in comparison to the direct method and
- Suitable both for beginners and intermediate; it gives a good base for
developing habits for contextual learning
- Very convenient for self-teaching
Disadvantages of situational approach for learning
- The situational approach is less effective both than audio-lingual approach
(about learning Spanish grammar) and language immersion (about developing listening and talking skills in
- If the Spanish lessons are not interrelated, this might pose a problem for
memorizing certain amount of words.
- The exercises and drills for Spanish vocabulary and grammar memorization
should be enough and carefully selected.
- The grammar per lesson/situation can easily be overdosed, especially if there
is a limit of the volume of the Spanish tutorial.
- Situational learning can cuts both ways. It could make the process of
memorization Spanish words and phrases more interesting and easier.
As we know however, learning Spanish is not just a memorization. After memorizing
a word or a grammar rule, we are supposed to successfully implement it in practice.
So, in order to be effective, the process of situational learning is expected to
show you the shortest possible way to implement what you’ve learnt so far.
Otherwise all the situations and context pose just a delay, and distract you
from the real practice. Lessons are lessons, you are expected however to adapt all of them to your
An interesting lesson with interesting characters might stimulate your ability and
wish to learn but this lesson is not the target, your end goal. It’s just the way leading to it and the
significance of an interesting lesson should not be overestimated.
Recommended level of Spanish Language
The situational method is a worldwide popular approach successfully used to
teaching Spanish conversational skills.
Moreover it is based on the idea of balancing between vocabulary and grammar
What it makes it really attractive is that it might be effective for acquiring not
only conversational, but also reading and writing skills. To be effective enough however it has to be completed
with sufficient amount of audio, so that you train both your listening and Spanish pronunciation at the same
The situational approach is universal and embedded in various Spanish language
learning programs – books (the Teach Yourself Spanish textbook), audio recordings (Rocket
Spanish, Synergy Spanish) and software platforms (Tell Me
More, Visual Link Spanish, Spanish Uno). When