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learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 09:09 AM   #1
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learning a new language

I am interested in learning Spanish to facilitate travel. I do not have a good ear for languages and do not speak a language other than English. (I don't count my expansive ability to curse in Finnish and Norwegian ).

I tried taking Spanish in college many years ago. I dropped out of the class because I couldn't seem to roll my Rs. And I was the type of student that felt if I couldn't get an A, I didn't want to be there.

So any ideas on how to learn to speak Spanish? I don't know of any local classes other than college classes which don't appeal to me in this instance.
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 09:23 AM   #2
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Re: learning a new language

I think Sheryl and Ha mentioned taking vacations and attending language classes in a Spanish speaking country. Could be a good idea but if you were to do that I think it is important to attend class/vacation in a place you are interested in or one that plan on visiting more than 1x. Spanish can vary by region.

I have tried CDs and I don't think I would recommend them. The link below is nice resource.

http://www.mylanguageexchange.com/
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 09:32 AM   #3
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Re: learning a new language

I learned how to count with Count Dracula and even learned a few Spanish words like "apierto" and "cerado" by watching Sesame Street when I was kid, so you can start there, if you are a kid at heart.

OR, you could go to the library and get some free "Learn to Speak Spanish" tapes and CDs.

Once you get the basics, try watching Telemundo and shows like "Sabato Gigante" to see how much you can comprehendo.

Rolling the tongue is optional.

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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 09:39 AM   #4
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Re: learning a new language

I'd say your best bet to learn a lot in a short amount of time for a relatively small amount of money is a language school. I studied spanish for most of my k-12 education and went on to get a BA in it in college. Part of my college program was intensive language immersion at this school in Cuernavaca, Mexico:

http://www.van-graff.com/cuernavaca/index2.html

Looks like the program is $100 plus $200 per week. So 2 weeks of intensive training for $500. I was studying in their advanced classes, but they have all different levels of instruction. Class sizes were usually between 2-5 people (almost one-on-one). Great instructors. Very friendly.

You could also do a homestay with a host family. I'd highly recommend this too. They provide all your meals (if you want them), and if they have a birthday or holiday celebration, you are invited (a good way to see family life and culture in Mexico). The older people in the family I stayed with only spoke spanish, but the younger ones spoke great English.

The city is very pretty. Close to Mexico City (and its airport).

(Modified to add):

Think of your week or two in a language school as a vacation. Cuernavaca is fun. You'll have nights and weekends free for sipping coronas (or coffee) in their little Greenwich-village-esque town square. Lots of bookshops and coffeehouses scattered around. It has a sort of bohemian/college town feel to it. Plus you can

Also, there will be a lot of college age students in the language classes but there was a good mix of middle-aged folks and executives in the school too.


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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 02:20 PM   #5
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Re: learning a new language

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
So any ideas on how to learn to speak Spanish?* I don't know of any local classes other than* college classes which don't appeal to me in this instance.*
I have never been to a language school, although I have had private tutors in South America. Frankly, I can't imagine anything much coming from 2 weeks of immersion, no matter where the school is. When I went to work in SA, I had been prepped beforehand by a native speaker from the area where I was going. Still, I was pretty much lost when I landed on the ground. I think there would be a huge tendency to get frustrated and start partying with the other English speaking students- which will be almost all of them other than the Japanese.

A couple of weeks at a school might be quite good though, if you do some prep beforehand. My experience with CD courses has been pretty good. There are many, but one good one is called "Behind the Wheel Spanish." It is discounted at Amazon and Walmart.com- I think it cost around $40. It is purely aural learning, which can be intimidating for analytical people. Still, I think it the way to start. Later you could get a textbook at a used book store to give you a bit of grammar structure.

Accent comes fairly easily when you can listen over and over.

Ha
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 02:43 PM   #6
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Re: learning a new language

I think I might do best trying the learn by CD route and if I get anywhere, then go to some kind of school if I am brave enough. Knowing myself, I seriously doubt I would get very far in an immersion program. I bet I could pick up reading a different language pretty fast, but speaking and understanding the spoken word is a whole different ball game.

Thanks all.
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 03:02 PM   #7
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Re: learning a new language

Martha,

That is a good approach too. Pick up a CD or a "learn spanish in 30 days" type of book. Pick up some vocabulary, and basic phrases. That will help immensely in learning the rest of the language.
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 05:56 PM   #8
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Re: learning a new language

I worked in Puerto Rico for 3 years. Unfortunately I had taken French in High School and college so it was actually harder for me to pick Spanish because of it. I am partially deaf and I tend to read lips so it was very hard to pick up a second language for me. I learned enough to get what I wanted and to find my way around and to know when I should be happy or pissed when someone was talking to me.

Berlitz was the favored place several years ago. They do an immersion type learning style and several of the top managers went there and spoke highly of their programs.

The self learning stuff takes a lot of time and initiative to keep at it. I tried it for a while but the tapes were not the same accent as the locals spoke and it made it hard (for me) to understand. Someone with normal hearing might do OK with them.
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 06:24 PM   #9
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Re: learning a new language

Quote:
Originally Posted by retire@40
I learned how to count with Count Dracula and even learned a few Spanish words like "apierto" and "cerado" by watching Sesame Street when I was kid, so you can start there, if you are a kid at heart.
That's "abierto" with a "b". I took two years of H.S. spanish but really learned much more spending 8 weeks living with a family in Mexico City and taking a spanish course at a small university there. That was in 1964 and I still remember quite a bit of my spanish.

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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 07:24 PM   #10
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Re: learning a new language

I was a Spanish major and I can't roll my r's. No problemo.

Ask around to see if there is a native spanish speaker around who would like to spend some time learning English. Meet for a couple of hours a week. Focus on English half the time and Spanish the other half. OR, be a big sister to a spanish speaking child. You'll be amazed at how much language you can learn from an 8 year old (or even a 5 year old).

Start listening to Spanish music, too. Look up the lyrics and start to learn that way. I can send you some if you'd like. PM me your address.
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 07:55 PM   #11
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Re: learning a new language

Martha, if it's any comfort, my Spanish is terrible (!que malo!) but in my town, half the people have Spanish as their first language. I just gamely try my best, and they are just so happy that I'm meeting them half way, they eagerly help me out. It's always a great experience. I hear mis-speaking French is much less pleasant. If you can get over that perfectionist streak, I think you'll find the people in other countries grateful you are trying to speak their language, and not just shouting English louder when they don't understand.

P.S., what's up with Putin?
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 08:04 PM   #12
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Re: learning a new language

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
P.S., what's up with Putin?
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...p?topic=4761.0

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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 08:11 PM   #13
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Re: learning a new language

Laruence,

While my DW and I were in France a few years ago she tried to speak French as much as possible. *She used a little calculator that helped her with the translations.

The people loved it and we were treated great. *Everyone went the extra mile for us.

It made me think about how I would feel if I were a waiter in a restaurant in US and someone ordered in a foreign language.

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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-07-2005, 11:29 PM   #14
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Re: learning a new language

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Originally Posted by 73ss454
Laruence,

While my DW and I were in France a few years ago she tried to speak French as much as possible. She used a little calculator that helped her with the translations.

The people loved it and we were treated great. Everyone went the extra mile for us.

It made me think about how I would feel if I were a waiter in a restaurant in US and someone ordered in a foreign language.

That's good to know, when my family went to Paris, the only good service we got was from a waiter from Quebec, and we had our French teacher friend with us! Her ego was quite dented as her accent was picked apart. Les Provinces were kinder.

Rewahoo, thanks for pointing out the thread, missed that!
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-08-2005, 02:23 AM   #15
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Re: learning a new language

Hi Martha,

I spent part of this summer in Spanish language class in Quito, Ecuador. About 2.5 weeks total.

I would recommend getting a "base" in the language before going to a language school abroad. The schools tend to focus on lots of practice but not on grammar rules, necessarily. I noticed that some of the folks who were just starting out were pretty lost, and didn't get as much as they should have. Most of them could barely communicate with their host families, and it diminished the experience.

I had a solid base before going; in fact I studied for a couple months in my spare time beforehand (I had about 5 quarters of Spanish in college). What I needed when I got there was practice listening and speaking and more vocabulary, which is exactly what I got. Also, I probably averaged about 1.5 hours per day outside of class rigorously assimilating what I learned that day; mostly vocabulary lists and subtleties that I had written down during conversations. Without this, you lose much of it.

Of course, much of this depends on your learning style. I tend to learn by reading and less by listening.

In my opinion, a useful amount of time at a school is 4 weeks. With less time, unless you are very well prepared, you won't advance as much. My own advice to people is to get a base in the language in their home country, especially grammar and some vocabulary. Then start off your 4 month trip in South America with a 4 week immersion class in a place you would like to go, where you can do lots of day and weekend trips, etc. That will help you enjoy the remaining 3 months of your trip 8) You can't really travel budget in South America outside of Brazil without Spanish. Even in Brazil, Spanish seems to be much more widely spoken than English.

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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-08-2005, 07:21 AM   #16
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Re: learning a new language

I found that people learn languages different ways. My spouse learned German at the Goethe Institut in Munich while we were living there. She learned well enough to get a job as a secretary with English as her mother-tongue. I learned German by taking classes at college, then by using it every day in Germany for a few years.

The difference between us was quite remarkable. I was always embarassed that I would make a mistake or have an American accent. I had learned too well and knew what was good German and what was poor German. So I was always a little slow at first because I had to think through a sentence to make sure it was grammatically correct before I spoke it. My spouse just blabbed because that was the way she was taught. She was not embarassed self-conscious at all by what came out. She was superb at listening over the phone where you could not see the person talking (see the lips, facial expression and hands moving helps alot!).

Over time, I relaxed a quite a bit and no longer worry about correctness. It makes it much more fun and sometimes interesting when you say the wrong thing. And don't worry about what others think. They will simply be amazed that an American speaks something other than English.

You know you've got it when you start dreaming in your new language.
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-08-2005, 09:08 AM   #17
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Re: learning a new language

Hi Martha -

My attempts at Spanish are ongoing.* I would like to do one of the imersion courses in Central America, but so far don't have the opportunity to take that much time off.

In the meantime I've taken night classes at two local community colleges - one great, one terrible.* *The teacher of the great one also offers a 40 hour immersion course in a nearby city.* It varies in format, sometimes its Saturdays and evenings about 10 hrs a week for 4 weeks other times its 5 eight hour days.* I hope to do this one soon.

In the meantime - I also bought a 3-CD set by Berlitz that lives in my car, I let it play in the background whenever I'm driving.* *I've heard it all dozens of times, and it's gradually sinking in.* *I also copied some of the more useful tracks off the CD onto my MP3 and I listen to them while jogging or stuck doing something boring.

If you have a Spanish TV channel that can be sort of fun. I understand only bits and pieces but it's entertaining to try and figure out what's going on.

I have been considering trying to launch a monthly Spanish-only potluck dinner night - I know a number of people who are trying to learn - but this seems too time consuming and social for me right now.

Maybe we need to start a Spanish-only thread on the board
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-08-2005, 09:46 AM   #18
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Re: learning a new language

Martha: I guess it depends on what language skills you'd like to acquire.* Most people have an easier time learning the passive skills (understanding and reading) than the active one (speaking).* Listening to CDs will get you understanding, but you won't be able to use the language, and learning to speak a language is usually not a large part of a traditional college language course.*

The following is a link to a program that uses immersion techniques for many languages, and also has reputable overseas programs.

http://www.newpaltz.edu/lii/

Remember, knowing how to swear like a truck driver will get you farther than conjugating in perfect tenses...
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-08-2005, 07:26 PM   #19
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Re: learning a new language

Martha;
I had to learn Spanish on my own working on the Mexican Border. I found an inexpensive workbook and tape set called spanish for gringos, it is a great way to get speaking spanish. Once you learn enough to introduce yourself and ask for things your ready for a live course as mentioned earlier. The key is to be brave, speak and use what you know then add to your skills as you go along and use it at every chance you get even if you talk to yourself.
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Re: learning a new language
Old 11-09-2005, 08:11 AM   #20
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Re: learning a new language

I'd definitely recommend taking an intensive Spanish course in a Spanish speaking country; you'll learn way more and way faster than taking a few evenings/days a week course at home. I've taken eve courses at home and learned very little.

I've taken intensive Spanish courses in Cuba, in Guatemala and, tommorow(!), I start an advanced course in Guadalajara Mexico.

Guatemala is definitely the cheapest place to do it; for under a $100 a week you can get one on one instruction, a room in a family's house and 3 meals a day.

My favorite way to do it is to take 4 weeks or so of course and then just hang out for another 4, 6, 8, the rest of your life weeks! And then once in a while take another refresher to get caught up one what you realize you don't know. Of course you'll be learning vocabulary and more while just hanging out but it helps me to formally study once in a while to get the grammar.

I'm paying about $100/week for group classes in Guadalajara plus accomodations, etc.

Well worth the effort. I'll be writing more about my experiences here in Guadalajara on my mexico blog (linked above) which so far includes thoughts and photos from my first 3 weeks in Mexico.

Let me know if you have some more questions that the blogs don't answer.
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