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Old 05-12-2008, 09:08 PM   #21
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An office mate came back from vacation in Miami and complained that Miami is already a Spanish-only country. To me it sounds like fun! OK, it will be brutal for about 9 months. Then it will get fun.

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It was a company called Nuovo Lingua working under a government contract. A Google search finds nothing on them, and I checked the Govt. agency that sponsored the training and it appears they no longer offer language training themselves but now provide funding for regional offices to provide it locally.

While looking for Nuovo Lingua in Miami I did find inlingua International language centers which has multiple offices across the country (bet they're franchisees) that does immersion training in Spanish and a number of other languages. Or you could just Google "Immersion Spanish" and see a lot of other possibilities. Another thing you might be interested in are immersion classes in Spanish speaking countries. Many of those combine formal classes with housing with a local family that takes the immersion experience to a new level.
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Old 05-12-2008, 09:59 PM   #22
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As an ERer that spends half the year in Mexico, I learned Spanish by watching Spanish language telanovelas (soap operas) on TV, reading a few books and making loads of mistakes by opening my mouth and trying to speak (you always remember those embarrasing moments). For example: embarazada does not normally mean embarrased in Spanish!
I recently discovered Desperate Housewives' Spanish version. It's the exact same story line and dialogs, but with Spanish-speaking actors (who happen to be younger and hotter than the American version). I try to read the script in English ahead of time, then watch the episode. It feels great to be able to "connect the dots." It's all about immersion and familiarity, so I'm trying to make it as fun as possible to keep myself interested.

Also, there may be Spanish practice groups in your area. I know there are two such groups in our mid-sized Midwestern city.
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Old 05-13-2008, 07:10 PM   #23
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So, and suggestions? Anybody used the software, or have alternatives?
Psst....Latina Girlfriend

If you can't do that then I would check out the library. I used Pimsleur to learn French and it was useful for my travels.

Once you get a basic understanding then go spend 2 months living with a family that does not speak English. I did this in Mexico. Take classes during the day and live with a family. Pretty cheap and you will become proficient in a few months. Unlike English, Spanish is a very logical language and easy to learn/pronounce.
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Old 05-13-2008, 07:14 PM   #24
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Latina Girlfriend
A very different (but good) kind of software...
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Old 05-17-2008, 03:07 PM   #25
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Try Spanishpod.com. I haven't, but have tried one of their other sites and have been happy.
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Old 05-17-2008, 04:53 PM   #26
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I've been dabbling in Spanish ever since (as a brat) lived in Latin America. Add many years of studying it in school (including this year -- yay ER!) and I am still far from fluent. This summer's big trip is to visit Mexico, helping a relative move there, going with a cousin who is a Spanish teacher ... ought to be an interesting trip! I will regale (assail?) you with stories of the trip, perhaps. Hasta luigi.
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Old 06-27-2008, 04:51 PM   #27
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As one who had to learn English fast. My method was to pick a newspaper article. With dictionary at hand, translate the article.
Initially a flat learning curve. You end up learning eight to ten words for each word in the article. Why? Each dictionary entry has many words of explanation which you don't know.
In 1965 I picked from the NY Post a two page article about the FBI. Two months later I had a vocabulary of about 2000 words.
Pronunciation was also difficult but understandable by patient listeners.
Even today I have an accent. But the exercise and work involved in the translation paid huge dividends.
I'm reasonably sure it will work for Spanish, it worked when studied German.
Used this general method to learn German. There is a ton of beginner material available, some intermediate, and almost no advanced. So I decided to try this method. It took a lot of perserverance to use the dictionary with books and magazines, but after about 3-4 months I was amazed at my progress. At first, sometimes, I would look up almost every word in a sentence, and still wasn't sure what the sentence meant. after a year I didn't need the dictionary much at all and did all my personal/entertainment reading in german. doesn't all contribute to conversation skills, but it does help.
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:53 PM   #28
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As I near FIRE, (November) I'm thinking more and more I'd really like to learn conversational Latin American Spanish. I have just enough to get me into trouble when I'm with those who speak it well. I don't have enough immersion opportunities to learn and improve, so I took a look at Rosetta Stone's website.... Ouch! Expensive software!

I'm close to a number of colleges, so could take some courses, but I'm really only interested in becoming conversational.

So, and suggestions? Anybody used the software, or have alternatives?
Yes, I do. In fact, I have an interview on Monday and although I've been speaking Spanish for 20 years, I benefit from brushing up as it's been awhile since I've had to speak it on a daily basis. I went to Barnes and Noble and bought this 8 CD set with a workbook and I am finding it to be excellent. It was only $80. I have the advanced set, but I am guessing the beginning/intermediate might be a good choice. It's called "Living Language: A Random House Company." They also had another resource for the same price that looked pretty good that I would have liked to pick up, but they only had the beginner's kit. Good luck and have fun with it!
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Old 06-28-2008, 09:21 AM   #29
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It took a lot of perserverance to use the dictionary with books and magazines, but after about 3-4 months I was amazed at my progress. At first, sometimes, I would look up almost every word in a sentence, and still wasn't sure what the sentence meant. after a year I didn't need the dictionary much at all and did all my personal/entertainment reading in german. doesn't all contribute to conversation skills, but it does help.
Agree that translating and learning to read and understand words does not make for conversational fluency. However, the exercise of learning words equips one with a the tools of conversation, words.

If the the meaning of a word is not understood, or misunderstood, the conversation can take some bizarre turns. Yup, been there done that
Learning slang, puns and other linguistic gymnastics takes along time. Really high levels of word-smithing, like sophistry, is nearly impossible.

Even longer to be able to think in a new language. Some things are never learned. For example: when doing quick arithmetic I instantly revert to my native language, even affter 40+ years.
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Old 06-28-2008, 09:24 AM   #30
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Used this general method to learn German. There is a ton of beginner material available, some intermediate, and almost no advanced. So I decided to try this method. It took a lot of perserverance to use the dictionary with books and magazines, but after about 3-4 months I was amazed at my progress. At first, sometimes, I would look up almost every word in a sentence, and still wasn't sure what the sentence meant. after a year I didn't need the dictionary much at all and did all my personal/entertainment reading in german. doesn't all contribute to conversation skills, but it does help.
Very impressive achievement. Congrats!

Ha
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Old 06-28-2008, 10:08 AM   #31
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One way I practice (French, in my case) is to read the news. Most of us already have some idea about the gist of the story. Knowing the context, many doubtful words fall in to place without translating. For starters, pick a country from the bottom margin of the Google News page.
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Old 06-28-2008, 04:44 PM   #32
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One way I practice (French, in my case) is to read the news. Most of us already have some idea about the gist of the story. Knowing the context, many doubtful words fall in to place without translating. For starters, pick a country from the bottom margin of the Google News page.
Here is how a guy can learn French (well maybe, I do get distracted...)



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Old 06-29-2008, 01:25 PM   #33
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Here is how a guy can learn French (well maybe, I do get distracted...)
Arrggghhh! I heard it very clearly this time, at about 20 seconds in: "Leonidas, come to Paris - I must bear your children".

Now, if I could just figure out how I learned French without even trying, I could make a bundle selling the method.
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Old 06-29-2008, 08:40 PM   #34
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Recently I read a lengthy article on wired magazine's website about a software called 'supermemo.' Basically, what it does in a nutshell is figure out the forgetfulness curve and reminds you to review the word just about when you are to forget it. After 4 reminders the word/phrase etc should stick in your brain 90% retention.
I've been using Supermemo for months and highly recommend it as a flash card substitute. I run in on a Palm Tungsten E2 PDA that I purchased just for Supermemo. I use it several times a day and take it with me if I think I'm going to have to do any waiting.

I took three years of Spanish in High School 35 years ago and remember hating most of it, but I did retain some vocabulary. Several of the countries I'm checking out as possible retirement destinations are Spanish speaking, so I decided I must learn.

Much of my strategy came from How to Learn a Language - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks . I agree with them in that the most important thing to have in learning a second language is motivation.

Here is what I'm doing:
* Found lists on the web of most frequently used Spanish words and loaded them into Supermemo.
* If I have trouble remembering a word I construct a phrase and add to Supermemo.
* The library had some of the CD based courses, I tried several and then started with 'Learn Spanish In your Car' and moved to 'Learning Spanish Like Crazy. Transcriptions of both courses are available on the net, so as I went through them I added new words and phrases to my growing Supermemo database.
* A friend gave me the basic Bilingual America course. I like it's multi pronged approach but I burnt out. I did 9 lessons in 10 weeks, it's taken me six weeks to finish the next two, there is one more to go.
* There are websites that allow one to practice listening comprehension, Learn Spanish | Spanish Listening Comprehension, Spanish Audio for example.
* I've done a little listening to Spanish TV with Spanish subtitles, but it made my brain hurt at first. It got easier.
* I tried speaking Spanish with friends who know the language but no matter how many times I asked them to slow WAY down and use a vocabulary that they would use with a 8 year old they didn't, so I stopped doing that. I intend to try the language exchange websites when my vocabulary more extensive.

The two most helpful tools so far have been Supermemo and Learning Spanish Like Crazy (LSLC). In every other course I looked at the student repeated what the instructor just said. In LSLC there is a lot of that but they also ask you a question or ask you how you say X and then you have to say it before the recoding says it. It forces one to respond without thinking, because if one does a Spanish - English - Spanish conversion, one doesn't beat the recording. The early lessons were easy because of prior learning, but the later ones kicked my butt. I had to repeat them, sometimes twice to make it through getting most of the responses correct. I'm up to lesson 14 now and an amazed at how much comprehension I have of the sample conversations they present and the beginning and end of each lesson.

If you want some intense self study, check out Learn Spanish the way Diplomats do . The US Foreign service developed their own courses decades ago and later put them into the public domain. The originals are available on the web for the cost of a CD and shipping. Reviews of them find fault with the low fidelity, lack of variety of the voices, and out of date vocabulary. The Platiquemos people updated the course and re-recorded all the auditory material. I've read that this course is college level. I expect I'll tackle it once I'm actually living in a Spanish speaking country long enough to realize how much I need it.
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Old 06-29-2008, 11:40 PM   #35
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As I near FIRE, (November) I'm thinking more and more I'd really like to learn conversational Latin American Spanish. I have just enough to get me into trouble when I'm with those who speak it well. I don't have enough immersion opportunities to learn and improve, so I took a look at Rosetta Stone's website.... Ouch! Expensive software!

I'm close to a number of colleges, so could take some courses, but I'm really only interested in becoming conversational.

So, and suggestions? Anybody used the software, or have alternatives?
First question to ask yourself is why do you want to learn Spanish.

There are many paths to learning a new language. Find the one that works for you (Rosetta, immersion programs, etc). Spanish is fairly easy to learn if you're primary language is English. (probably a lot easier than the other way around).

Once you get develop a basic ability in it, I recommend you spend as much time as possible in environments where only Spanish is spoken.

I had to pick up Spanish in my 20's (now 47) for work/business purposes.
I personally consider my Spanish to be quite atrocious, but I amazingly still manage to get around quite well with it in Spanish speaking countries (& even get complimented sometimes). I notice that after a few days in a 100% Spanish speaking environment I get 100% better.

I try to keep my grammar/conjugations as correct as possible, but anymore I really don't get too wound up about it. Don't worry too much about your mistakes, just speak & listen as much as possible.
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