When considering why language students often struggle with the understanding of, and learning of, irregular verbs only one conclusion can be reached, mindset, or to put it correctly… students have the WRONG mindset!
Irregular verbs are often believed to be the most difficult part of a language to learn, but what is truly difficult is understanding why this is actually deemed difficult? The truth is this…from the very first day of learning a new language students have it drilled into them that mastering irregular verbs is very difficult, so figuring out the reason for the inherent fear most students have of irregular verb conjugation is, well…not rocket science, is it?
With that in mind why can we not look at things a little more objectively!
When it boils down to it, learning the conjugations of an irregular verb isn’t any different to learning the conjugations of a regular verb, it is only how the student perceives the task of conjugation that makes them see irregular verbs as being more difficult.
Take Spanish for example there are three ‘regular’ verb types, so called because they follow a regular set pattern. Each pattern relates to a different verb group, each group consisting of verbs with the same endings, these endings in Spanish are; -ar; -er; and -ir.
If you have been learning Spanish, or are doing so currently, you will probably have all the endings, for each conjugation, for each of these regular verb groups etched into your memory banks and you will have also been told that you will have no choice but to memorize each irregular verb as they all have varying conjugations, but…In my opinion, this is very misleading!
Nearly all Spanish irregular verbs follow certain conjugation patterns that other irregular verbs also use. Therefore, enabling them to be put into groups themselves.
Note: The only reason a Spanish verb is called regular is because it follows the same pattern of conjugation that the majority of other verbs with the same ending use. As there are a large number of these regular verbs, they obviously form groups; if this is what qualifies a verb as being regular then a large number of irregular verbs could also be classed as regular too!
I’m not trying to turn the educational world on its head with my views but if students could see that irregular verbs do follow set patterns of conjugation the same as regular verbs, would that not help to change a negative mindset with regards to studying irregular Spanish verbs?
I started this article making a statement along the lines of students having an inherent fear, nurtured by their tutors and textbooks, of the difficulties they will face learning irregular verbs when compared to the relatively easier task of learning regular verbs. The simple act of changing an irregular verb into a regular verb could change the perception of how an irregular verb is viewed by the student.
Yes, I know…it may read a bit like psycho-babble but this is what mindset change is; changing the way you look at things will often make them easier to deal with.
You should always remember that learning, not just learning Spanish, is a state of mind, believing something is difficult often leads to it being exactly that, so make studying Spanish easier and acquire a positive mindset. Thinking positive can only improve how you learn and your studies can only become easier.
Having a positive mindset is great but you can always give yourself an even greater advantage by having the right tools at hand and you should check out my verb conjugation book that covers over 2000 irregular verbs in Spanish here and the review of the Verbarrator verb training software here…I swear by the both of them!!