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Learning conversational Spanish...
Old 05-04-2008, 03:42 PM   #1
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Learning conversational Spanish...

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?
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:23 PM   #2
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Someone here mentioned a really cool thing where you go online with a web cam and get a native speaker in (I think) Guatemala to do private lessons with you over the web. It is relatively inexpensive and a truly awesome idea, as you would be learning with a native speaker.
I will definitely do this when I have the time--it seemed like an ideal solution. Meanwhile, check out the community education programs that might be offered in the evenings through your local school system--there are at least 4 classes offered each time for adult learners of conversational Spanish in the Charleston County School districts program. One is even specifically Construction jobsite Spanish for supervisors, which I thought was a great idea.
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:27 PM   #3
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After trying a lot of different things, and never getting very good, I tried the immersion method and it worked. It was a demanding course and very fast (almost brutally) paced, but it put me over the top and made me conversational. You can do it informally as well. After the class I had several months before I could take the certification test at work (for extra pay). So I bribed my secretaries with regular lunches and treats to only speak Spanish with me. I rented Spanish movies, listened to Spanish radio, watched Spanish language news, and read Spanish language newspapers. I think that tapes, classes, books and software are only going to get you so far and are no substitute for real conversations.
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Old 05-04-2008, 05:19 PM   #4
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Sarah, Leonidas, thanks for the replies. Leonidas, what immersion courses are you talking about? Are classes available which are immersion? That seems to be the way to go for me.... JHT
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Old 05-04-2008, 05:19 PM   #5
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Old 05-04-2008, 05:53 PM   #6
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Sarah, Leonidas, thanks for the replies. Leonidas, what immersion courses are you talking about? Are classes available which are immersion? That seems to be the way to go for me.... JHT
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 05-04-2008, 11:33 PM   #7
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Puzzley,
I went to the public library and checked out the Pimsleur Language Learning series (on CDs, but available on cassette). I found out about it from a co-worker from Mexico, who was learning chinese with the Pimsleur CDs. He was talking understandable chinese to a native chinese speaker (another co-worker) in a couple of lessons.
I am currently using the latin american Spanish series, and i think it is terrific. You only learn to speak the language-not read it. It is actually fun to learn with this method. I burned copies of the CDs, and practice in the car. They talk on the CD, and you respond. It is lively and interesting--and takes 30 minutes a day.
So, check out the local library! Hopefully they will carry the Pimsleur series.

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Old 05-05-2008, 06:20 AM   #8
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Thanks, Rocketdog!
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:22 AM   #9
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After trying a lot of different things, and never getting very good, I tried the immersion method and it worked.
Leonidas, I am not clear from your post what you did. As I understand it, an immersion course means to go to some Latin country and do all your communicating in Spanish, 24x7, unless you need to call home.

Is that what you did, followed by the interactions that you describe after you returned to the US?

Ha
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Old 05-05-2008, 08:25 AM   #10
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Leonidas, I am not clear from your post what you did. As I understand it, an immersion course means to go to some Latin country and do all your communicating in Spanish, 24x7, unless you need to call home.

Is that what you did, followed by the interactions that you describe after you returned to the US?

Ha
No, it was actually two classes (beginning and intermediate) and it was in the US (Houston and Miami). It wasn't immersion in the sense that it was 24 hours a day, but it was 8 hours a day of being pushed to communicate only in Spanish. The beginners class had some limitations, especially in the first few days, but even it moved rapidly toward Spanish being the only means of communication. They gave us a ton of written material for vocabulary purposes, and it had the English translations, but within a couple of days the instruction was almost exclusively in Spanish. It was a lot of vocabulary with much leeway given for poor grammar.

It wasn't too tough for me because I had taken beginning Spanish in HS, college and at work. I experienced a lot of improvement, but the guys who came into the class knowing only Taco and Cerveza were darn close to me by the end of the class.

The intermediate class was 1000 times tougher. It was all Spanish all the time and rapid fire doesn't begin to describe how quickly it moved. They were picky on grammar, and we had to be able to use multiple tenses of verbs in a single conversation. Every morning started out with you describing what you had done last night or that morning before class, what you were doing at that moment, what you were going to do later that day, and what you might do in the future. For lunch we were sent to places in Miami where the staff didn't speak English. We also ate some dinners in similar places and we were only allowed to speak Spanish during the meal. They would pass out a newspaper, or show a video of the news, and then start a conversation about what we were reading or watching. Those conversations were tough because they would always go way beyond the text of the article and make you talk about your opinion, analysis or beliefs about the subject. Every night there was a section from a book or magazine in Spanish that you had to read and understand, because there would be a hour's discussion on it the next day. Or you had to listen to a Spanish radio station and come in the next day and sing a song you had heard - or screech a song in my case.

By the end of the class I'm not sure I can say that I was thinking in Spanish, but my mental translation process was nearly instantaneous. By that I mean that I was no longer doing the cumbersome process of translating what I saw or heard into English, thinking my response in English, translating it into Spanish and then speaking it. I would comprehend all or most of what I heard or read and I would find myself responding almost as quickly as if I were speaking English. We all still stumbled on new words, or occasionally screwed up the grammar, but the mistakes were generally small and we were effectively communicating solely in Spanish.

The other stuff was just practice to keep my skills up and try to improve while I waited for the annual testing period for language proficiency. It's easy to do when 20-30% of the people you work with are Spanish speakers, most of the "clientele" were Columbians or Dominicans, and you live in a city with 3 Spanish language TV stations, a couple of dozen Spanish radio stations, and about a third of the population is Spanish speaking. Plus we were doing wiretaps on people that were all Spanish speakers and I would spend at least 8 hours each week working the wire room and practicing my Spanish with the interpreters (luckily they were mostly gorgeous women who were occasionally given to being flirtatious, so I was highly motivated).
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:55 AM   #11
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Thanks Leonidas. That sounds like a tough and stressful but very efective experience.

Ha
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Old 05-05-2008, 11:32 AM   #12
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I got pretty far with "Dos Dos Equis, por favor..."
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Old 05-05-2008, 02:56 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 05-05-2008, 07:17 PM   #14
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I had good luck using "Spanish for Gringo's" tapes. They are fun to listen to and geared more toward travelers to Mexico. I found them at my library.
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:11 PM   #15
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I had good luck using "Spanish for Gringo's" tapes. They are fun to listen to and geared more toward travelers to Mexico. I found them at my library.
Thanks I'll look for them !
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:17 AM   #16
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Quote:
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.
is99,

I tried this when we lived in Denmark. Impossible for me. I think Danish is a very casual language. Much slang and figures of speech, even used in print, that don't make it into the Dansk-English dictionaries.

It appears that Spanish is a little more orderly in print. I can follow it better.
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:56 AM   #17
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is99,

I tried this when we lived in Denmark. Impossible for me. I think Danish is a very casual language. Much slang and figures of speech, even used in print, that don't make it into the Dansk-English dictionaries.

It appears that Spanish is a little more orderly in print. I can follow it better.
Hold op. Det danske sprog er da nemt i forhold til det spanske.
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:05 AM   #18
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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. It looked pretty cool, though I have yet to dive in and grab the software.

Cheers.
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Old 05-12-2008, 07:53 PM   #19
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Puzzley,

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!

In Texas, where I live, we have several Spanish language stations with lots of choices for good telanovelas. The good thing about these programs is that, unlike American soaps, they actually end! Usually the story lasts from 6 months to a year. There are websites devoted to these shows where you can talk with other gringos and Spanish speakers about what's going on. They also have summaries of the story so you can catch up if you started watching in the middle.

One of the more popular telenovela on TV now is Fuego En La Sangre (Fire in the Blood). Wikapedia has a summary of the story. Univision has a various pages dedicated to the show, including a forum where you can discuss the show with other fans.

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Old 05-12-2008, 08:17 PM   #20
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Our library system has rosetta stone as part of their database of free things available to the members. You might ask.
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