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Old 01-18-2008, 11:54 PM   #21
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The best I ever did wit ha foreign language was when I went to italy. I had taken some courses in college and then went there a few years after. Learn the basic stuff, like how to ask for things, directions, food, transportation. These are the most important things when going to a country. I found I became and expert in asking directions and about a month I was also an expert in giving them as well. I just made up flash cards and studied the words and important verbs.
I find that interesting...the flash cards. I saw them at Barnes & Noble, did a mental eye-roll and put them back. They really helped?
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Old 01-19-2008, 02:08 AM   #22
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I would think flash cards would help! (as an adjunct).

I don't think books/tapes can really be the core, but they can't hurt. I bought a couple of different series but found I didn't end up turning to them much.

I had a good Italian teacher in the US, and took some 1-2 week immersion classes in Italy as well. Once you get beyond the very first level.. start challenging yourself with reading material that you already are familiar with in English: this could be a favorite book in translation or a news/sports/hobby topic that holds particular interest for you (if you're not interested in the lesson content, it's harder to make it stick). Now that there is the Internet you have an infinity of Spanish-language texts available for free.

I also liked 'parallel text' books with short stories. I read the English first and that gave me the background to bludgeon through the Italian. I also found reading out loud to myself from a foreign-language text (even if I didn't know all the words or pronounced them poorly) gave me a good basis for the rhythm and for common sentence constructions and those enter into your subconscious with repetition.
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Old 01-19-2008, 07:45 AM   #23
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I started my Italian reading with the Harry Potter books. Since I already had read them in English, I had a basic understanding of the plot and characters and could concentrate on the language. It was quite helpful.
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Old 01-19-2008, 02:47 PM   #24
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We used the Rosetta Stone program before we went to Italy. It worked far better for DH than for me. I'm a person who learns better by studying books, then practicing, whereas he is much more of a visual and aural learner, so RS played to his strengths.

Also, if you've already taken some Spanish, you'll be surprised how much comes back to you as soon as you start studying and using it again. I took two semesters of French in college (many moons ago) and never used it since, but in French Switzerland this summer, without any additional studying I was able to read signs, and make myself understood in the stores and restaurants.
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Old 01-19-2008, 03:14 PM   #25
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I took two semesters of French in college (many moons ago) and never used it since, but in French Switzerland this summer, without any additional studying I was able to read signs, and make myself understood in the stores and restaurants.
You must be good. I took 2 years of French in college and I can't understand much of the dialogue in a French movie.

Ha
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Old 01-20-2008, 09:12 AM   #26
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You must be good. I took 2 years of French in college and I can't understand much of the dialogue in a French movie.

Ha
I didn't say that I understood them, just that I could make myself understood. I've always found that I can read and speak languages better than I can understand what they are saying back to me. Makes for some pretty one-sided conversations.
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Old 01-21-2008, 12:10 AM   #27
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I think you should definitely try to get to an immersion school once you are in Mexico. I just returned from 3 weeks in Central America, including 6 days in an immersion school. As short as my schooling was, it was tremendously helpful. Before I left all I could say was "Donde esta el bano?" (sorry for missing the accent) but now I can hold simple conversations with people, as well as asking for directions. I could hardly believe it myself.

Now that I'm back, I plan to attend weekly gatherings of people who would like to practice Spanish. There is a group meeting at our local Barnes & Noble. I'm sure they can be found in most medium to large cities.

I know some immersion schools in Central America can also connect you with one of their teachers via Skype. You have a one-on-one teacher that way without even leaving your home. They charge something like $10 to 15/hour, I think. Pretty good rate considering you're getting a native speaker who is a professional language instructor.

Or maybe we should all post to this forum in espanol... Buena suerte!
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Old 01-21-2008, 12:44 PM   #28
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During my recent three weeks in S. America I found that my HS spanish resurrected itself quite surprisingly. I remembered words and phrases spontaneously without any effort! By the end of the trip I was helping others in our group translate prices from the vendors. i could figure out the meaning in short newspaper articles too. Great fun!
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Old 01-21-2008, 04:05 PM   #29
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I know some immersion schools in Central America can also connect you with one of their teachers via Skype. You have a one-on-one teacher that way without even leaving your home. They charge something like $10 to 15/hour, I think. Pretty good rate considering you're getting a native speaker who is a professional language instructor.
What a great idea and way for a teacher in Central America to have students in the States! Very cool!
I had two friends who went the immersion method, even living with native speakers where only Spanish was spoken. They were in Costa Rica. She said that it was very intensive and quite effective, but not a "holiday"!
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Old 01-21-2008, 06:10 PM   #30
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We are (sort of) planning on a month or two in Mexico next winter...so I have some time for study. We are currently just north of the border and cross over to Algodones frequently to shop, eat, etc. Because Algodones relies heavily on its winter visitors, most of its residents speak at least a little English...so I don't really have an urgent need to speak Spanish.
Twinkle Toes,

I recommend two things:

1. Go to Algodones and try to speak and understand as much Spanish as you can. This is usually received very well... especially given the 'Ugly American' stereotype of "YOU should learn MY language!" Also, go to local Mexican restaraunts and do the same thing.

2. Get a 'common words and phrases' book, and possibly a 'Spanish-English English-Spanish' dictionary. Use this in conjuction with #1. It's a good brush-up for, say, going to a restaurant. Rats! A quick search of my bookshelves doesn't reveal the ones that I've used. If you want, I'll do a more comprehensive search...

My experience is that folks are folks are much more friendly and helpful when you at least try to speak their language. Good luck!
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Old 01-23-2008, 10:24 PM   #31
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Anyone had success with a particular method, book, tapes, CDs? Went to Barnes and Noble and there was a wide variety of stuff ranging from "point-to-phrases" to the Rosetta Stone. Suggestions/evaluations requested.
Thanks in advance!
For self learning, I heartily recommned the Pimsleur comprehensive series. Spanish comes in three levels of thirty 1/2 hour lessons each (90 total). There also is a "plus" volume with about ten additional lessons that I didn't find particularly helpful, but it did provide some additional practice (not very useful additonal vocabulary in the plus volume). They are very incremental and build up slowly, one lesson upon another, periodically revisiting at a different level, or in a different context, things you may have learned in earlier levels. Much conversational repitition but again in different contexts so that you do learn how to form unique and contextually relevent sentences (as opposed to just learning rote phrases).
Some people that I've loaned them to found them tedious. I've enjoyed using them. The 1/2 hour lesson format works great for commuting, time on the treadmill or other otherwise down time. They are pretty expensive (about $150 per level on e-bay, so $450 for the three-level comprehensive series). It is recommneded to do only one lesson a day - so three months gets you there. I have used them for Spanish, Italian and Greek prior to travel and always have been able to negotiate basic situations acceptably. Certainly not fluent by any means, but contextually apporpriate basic conversation nevertheless. I have been complemented on pronunciation/accent by some locals in all three cases, so I think they must be good for that. Also for listening comprehension, but not so much for reading or formal grammer - it's pretty much all conversational audio - the grammer you learn is though observing patterns in the conversations. Perhaps they could serve as solid refersher for you prior to going to give you head start on immersion learning once there.
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:22 AM   #32
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You have received a lot of good suggestions, I just wanted to add that I just got back from my 4 weeks working in Mexico City.

I never studied Spanish, but found I could understand a lot of it if it was written on a sign or menu or bill, but couldn't hear it as distinct words when spoken to me. Towards the end I could start to make out more of the spoken stream. But if I had to reply to a question, for some reason French would pop into my head.

In the area of town we stayed and worked, there was always someone who spoke enough English to help you with your transaction, directions, etc.

BTW, the city is wonderful, and not the smog-filled, crime ridden hell-hole everyone makes it out to be. I could have gladly stayed another month and enjoyed even more of the cultural attractions.
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Old 01-30-2008, 04:42 AM   #33
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Igsoy - I lived in Mexico City for 2 years and still go down there for work about once a quarter. I agree its a great place, and if it were less polluted it would be very high on my list of places to retire. (while the pollution is not as bad as stories in the US press suggest, it did start to effect me after a year or so)


Where did you stay? Polanco I assume?

I stay in Polanco now when I go for work (at the W, which is a fabulous hotel) but usually stay in La Condesa when I go down for fun.


Speaking of the W - staying there will change a lot of people's perception of Mexico City. The hotel itself is a mecca of design, the crowd at the bar as sophisticated as any you'd see in NY, and across the street is a Bentley dealership.
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:58 PM   #34
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Where did you stay? Polanco I assume?

I stay in Polanco now when I go for work (at the W, which is a fabulous hotel) but usually stay in La Condesa when I go down for fun.

Speaking of the W - staying there will change a lot of people's perception of Mexico City. The hotel itself is a mecca of design, the crowd at the bar as sophisticated as any you'd see in NY, and across the street is a Bentley dealership.
Hi Maurice, they put us up at the JW Marriott, right next to the W. That way we could just walk across the street to go to work at the Auditorio. The Marriott is fabulous as well, our group took up a third of their rooms for the month. I'm sure our corp. took bids from the W and the Presidente, too, but went with the Marriott. Tons of great restaurants in the neighborhood, and the beautiful parks are what really floored me!

I'm glad I had many weeks there to go see things in small doses. If you tried to see all the sights in one week, you'd really wear yourself out.(maybe I'm just saying that because I still had to go to work every night and my work is physically demanding, so I had to be careful to pace myself).
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:53 PM   #35
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I spoke Spanish fluently some years ago. I took Berlitz lessons here in USA, and then spent quite a bit on time on the ground in Latin America.

Lately I have tried to get it back, without moving to a Spanish speaking country. I used Pimsleur tapes, Behind the Wheel Spanish and the US Foreign Service Adaptation of the Monterey Language School tapes. All are good, but nothing like a good teacher, or going to the country and taking lessons and immersing yourself without any English speakers around to give you a vacation. Using these home study aids helps for part of our education.

The tapes (now CDs) are very good for helping accent, building vocabulary, etc. Where a teacher really helps is in answering pesky questions about grammar, about the actual current use of forms such as usted vs. tu, and by actually physically showing how to hold the mouth to make the correct sounds, and by listening to what we are saying and helping to pull the pronunciation into line with what he or she is using. The other thing is, you get the visual. Part of communicating like a native is seeming like one. Americans are often stiff, relatively unexpressive with their faces and hands, yet at the same time maybe loud. We also have different concepts of personal space and interpersonal comfort.

Even fairly modern CDs use constructions that are much more formal and actually stilted than what people use in the countries.

I speak with people as often as I can. Still its hard, and I think to really get what I am hoping to get Iíll have to pick up and leave for a while. At least a couple months, then a couple more, then a couple more. That should really help.

My accent and rhythm are still good, since I mostly learned on the ground. When a Spanish speaker hears me, he lets fly and then I am lost because I have lost too much vocabulary, as well as verb constructions.

So I'd recocmmend some CDs. Pimsleur are good but expensive. Then go for while. This helps with the motivation too, since you get pretty lonesome and really quickly try to develop enough to talk to people.


Ha
If you have a desk job, just listen to whatever tapes you can get your hands on while at work. That's how I learn my bad French. Even after doing so for 2 years, my time in Montreal was still a big challenge. I felt like a two year old watching French TV. The bad part was that almost everyone spoke English, so as soon as I trotted out my bad French, they would start speaking English.

What Haha said about "....not getting a vacation." is exactly right. Total immersion was how I learned English, but let's just say that the first 2 years were not so fun. I felt I was being bombarded everyday with new words and new concepts while simultaneously losing my ability to speaking Chinese. For a while, my biggest worry was that I would end up as a no-language barbarian.
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:54 PM   #36
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The last thing i heard for learning spanish was the Rosetta stone. I heard it works pretty good. Maybe listen to telemundo as well lol :P
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