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  #1  
Old 27 Mar 2012
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Learning Spanish - Progress

Hi there HU,

For those of you traveling Latin America, I thought you might like some down-to-earth feedback, tips, thoughts, or whatever on what it's like learning the Spanish language and exactly what it takes. I’ll be posting on this thread once every other week or so to give updates on my Spanish progress.

Quick background: I’m new to a second language. I’ve tried to learn Spanish before but got bored or it just didn’t stick. I tried Rosetta Stone, Michel Thomas, and now I’m on to Pimsleur (which is fantastic so far!). I’m learning Spanish because I’m heading to SA in 2013. I hope that these 'real-life' progress reports will give a better understanding as to what it takes to learn a new language.


Rosetta Stone:

Started (just for the heck of it) a year ago. At first it was awesome, a whole new approach to learning a second language! After a while it felt like I was really learning something but in reality I wasn’t getting anywhere. I wasn’t able to have the same interaction as you would speaking with a Spanish-speaking person. (I gave up after the year). That aside, I DID however learn a few things like what apples, dogs, cats, and other random objects were. (manzanas, perros, and los gatos).

Michel Thomas:

This guy is a real character! I listened to these recordings for a while but as before, I lost interest. He was great in emphasizing how to emphasize words and I truly did learn one of two things but I got bored -I gave up – although sometimes his recordings pop up when my iPod is on shuffle… <next>.

Pimsleur:

Now let me be clear here first: I DO NOT WORK FOR THESE GUYS, nor do I get any endorsement bonus, but I think you know where I’m going with this... On their website I listened to the first lesson or free and after that I was HOOKED. It starts off with a conversation between a man and a woman (in Spanish). I think to myself: “What the F*&% was that?!”. The narrator proceeds to teach me how to have a conversation without me even knowing it, and then he engages me in a conversation-like format. At the end they play the first Spanish conversation I heard and what-a-ya-know… I understand it - Fully.


So this is my first bi-weekly write-up and I hope you enjoyed it. I was pretty lost and didn't really know which lessons to take, if I should teach myself, or if I should pay for lessons. To help me help you, please post your questions or comments to help out the community.

Last edited by AVID; 27 Mar 2012 at 05:54. Reason: sp
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  #2  
Old 27 Mar 2012
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I've tried the Pimsleur and the Michel Thomas courses, I actually prefer the MT course though I can't decide if the male student is being deliberately thick, he usually makes me want to punch the speakers..

Another idea is to have a look at sites like Gumtree, there are always native Spanish speakers looking for 'intercambios' in most cities, its good to hook up with some of them and try speaking face to face. And it's free!
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Old 27 Mar 2012
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haha yeah, but at least the girl has a great voice.

How did you do with the MT course? Can you speak Spanish now? I'm going to check out Gumtree, thanks.
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Old 27 Mar 2012
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I'm frantically learning Spanish too

I have been using Michel Thomas and thought it was quite good. Always surprised at how quickly you can start building sentences. I like the thick male student, he makes me feel like my spanish is not actually that bad.

Thanks for the tip on Pimsleur, I'll check it out.
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Last edited by rsstler; 27 Mar 2012 at 14:15. Reason: typo
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Old 29 Mar 2012
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If you like it, write me in Spanish. Word to word, I can help you and you can help me with English. Cheers..
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  #6  
Old 1 Apr 2012
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There is also Coffee Break Spanish, free audio podcasts. They are quite good for the basics; greetings, number, etc.
Coffee Break Spanish | Radio Lingua Network
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Old 5 Apr 2012
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Progress Report: 2

Well it's been 2.5 weeks since my first lesson and I can say that I'm confident so far. I'm by no means able to take on a Latin American in regular chit-chat, however I'm confident that if I ask the person to speak very slowly (still not sure what the word is for 'slow') than I could have a small chance of knowing what they said. In fact I would probably say something like this:

'yo entiendo castellano pero yo entiendo muy poco. Hablo muy lento por favor.'

'I understand Spanish but I understand very little. Please speak very slowly.'
(I looked up 'slowly', but the rest was all Pimsleur)


Sometimes I get confused and lag behind when I forget a word. I use a few techniques to remember the word, here's an example:

The word 'Spanish' in Latin America is 'castellano' (pronounced - CAST-A-YAN-O). For the life of me I could not remember it and so I attached an image along with it in my head. From now on the image of Casablanca pops in my head every time I try to think of the word 'Spanish' in Spanish... err castellano.


Overall my progress is... well progressing. The format of the mp3's have a person say something in English, then you try to say it in Spanish. Then a person says it in Spanish after a pause. I found that once I hit lesson 9a I started to lag behind, and the Spanish answer felt like it was coming too soon. (before I could figure it out in my head) I've solved this by using the pause button, then redoing the same lesson the next day and trying not to use the pause button. So far this works.

I hope this helps and maybe gives you some motivation to learn this beautiful language!

I'm off to China for a month for work, but I'll try to do an update if anyone thinks these things might help them?




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Old 6 Apr 2012
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Thumbs up

[QUOTE=AVID;374120]Well it's been 2.5 weeks since my first lesson and I can say that I'm confident so far. I'm by no means able to take on a Latin American in regular chit-chat, however I'm confident that if I ask the person to speak very slowly (still not sure what the word is for 'slow') than I could have a small chance of knowing what they said. In fact I would probably say something like this:

'yo entiendo castellano pero yo entiendo muy poco. Hablo muy lento por favor.'

'I understand Spanish but I understand very little. Please speak very slowly.' (I looked up 'slowly', but the rest was all Pimsleur)


Sometimes I get confused and lag behind when I forget a word. I use a few techniques to remember the word, here's an example:

The word 'Spanish' in Latin America is 'castellano' (pronounced - CAST-A-YAN-O). For the life of me I could not remember it and so I attached an image along with it in my head. From now on the image of Casablanca pops in my head every time I try to think of the word 'Spanish' in Spanish... err castellano.


Overall my progress is... well progressing. The format of the mp3's have a person say something in English, then you try to say it in Spanish. Then a person says it in Spanish after a pause. I found that once I hit lesson 9a I started to lag behind, and the Spanish answer felt like it was coming too soon. (before I could figure it out in my head) I've solved this by using the pause button, then redoing the same lesson the next day and trying not to use the pause button. So far this works.

I hope this helps and maybe gives you some motivation to learn this beautiful language!

I'm off to China for a month for work, but I'll try to do an update if anyone thinks these things might help them?



Hi

You must translate 'I understand Spanish but I understand very little. Please speak very slowly.' like

'yo entiendo castellano pero yo entiendo muy poco. Hable muy lentamente por favor.'

the verbs conjugations is complicated in "castellano"
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Old 6 Apr 2012
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I understand that "natural" ways are less boring/demanding, but having a good basis on grammar is the key to improve your language skills and proficiency, instead of remanining in a "football player speech". Both are compatible, so I'd say it's good to go for the MP3 speech, if that's your personal approach, and then, once having learned a while, study some grammar. Things pop up suddenly and you may say "Oh, that's how/why it actually works!" and it's much easier and enjoyable.

I strongly recommend "Aprende Gramática y Vocabulario", published by SGEL. Book 1 will be enough for you by now. Fullly in Spanish, but affordable. Concise and straighforward grammar explanations with good examples, alongside with exercises (and solutions at the end!)

I've been a volunteer teacher of Spanish for years and I use it in addition to the regular manual.

Don't worry about saying castellano or español, that's a long discussion going on, with español currently prevailing.

Rauleloy, well pointed the important "hable" imperative form being it a request. You are totally right, "mente" suffix converts adjectives into adverbs as "ly" in English, but you don't (always) need it, they are just adverbs in the same form as long as they "describe" the action (verb), instead of the sustantive. But is doesn't hurt to emphasize it with "mente"! :-)

Coche lento (adjetive) or hable lento or lentamente (adverb, remember change "o" into "a" as rápido to rápidamente).

Hope it helps. As Rauleloy said, happy to give hand.

Esteban
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  #10  
Old 11 May 2012
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For what it is worth;
i took 2 weeks spanish class in Buenos Aires to start my trip.
You do a basic test (which my results put me in the lowest class because I couldn't speak any). But you are in a group of 6 with the same ability.

They spend a lot of time on conjugating verbs, the regular verbs are mechanical but the irregular verbs are a nightmare! For example in English "to speak" we have 5 variants. In spanish they have 53!

Having said that it is very helpful to know the basic rules of the language.

I then booked another 2 weeks in Santiago. The school wasn't as good and I changed from group lessons after the first week. the 2nd week i just spoje with a tutor for 2 hours. It was the best thing I could have done, she corrected my pronunciation and helped with phrasing of sentences.

The best part about school is that I met a lot of good fun people, all travelling and having a ball. The age gap didn't matter as we all had travel in common.

so for my money - book in to a class when you get here. I am still in contact with some Aussies, Swiss and German guys I met on the course.

Suerte!
Delb
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Old 11 May 2012
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Post Report 3: Catching Up and Making Time

Hi guys and gals,

Well as mentioned in my previous report on my progress I was in China for a month on business and came to a few conclusions: It's really easy to not study and it feels like it's hard to find time.

With summer fast approaching, that awesome weather has my mind on cottages, motorcycles, being on motorcycles, and figuring out how to legally marry a motorcycle. Study (I hate that word) is becoming so much more difficult.

While I was in beautiful China I seriously slacked on my Spanish courses (Pimsleur) and fell behind. I was on lesson 12 when I left and now I'm on lesson 15. The point here is that with only a minor distraction, I fell behind - which brings me to my next point: making time.

Making time really is easy, seriously. All of those out there that say it's not possible are just plain lazy (myself included). You can find time in your car to and from work, at lunch, doing the dishes, prepping dinner, or some other creative way. The truth is that you just have to commit to actually doing it and not slack. When I was in China I made excuses not to do it so I fell behind. The result is that I can't concentrate on the new levels without backtracking (like when you've put a book down for too long and you're halfway through a chapter).

So what have I learned?

- When you study, do it when you don't have to concentrate too hard on something else.
- Finding time is easy if you take 2 seconds to figure out when is best for you (20 mins a day).
- China is an awesome place that you should all try to visit!


So what have you guys done to find time/battle your laziness?
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Old 12 May 2012
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There's a weekly "News in slow Spanish" podcast out there as well, good to listen to whilst on the bike.

Spanish Podcast
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Old 12 May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AVID View Post
So what have you guys done to find time/battle your laziness?
If you struggle to force yourself to study, which requires A LOT of discipline... enroll in a course. Every Tuesday and Thursday the world stops at 19h because you have language classes (that was my approach, since there is always something to do).

The only fault, if you have to travel a lot (say China 1 month!), then ask your colleagues what they've seen in the class and the homework and do it at the end of the day in your hotel (instead of playing wiht your Ipad). Once bac, try to correct the homework if possible. Study & homework, the key factors.

Cannot find time to study? Then go to work by bus, find a seat and study, so it is not wasted time. If you like reading, get a basic dual language book (1 page Spanish, 1 page English translation) from a book you already have read and enjoyed. You'll remember the vocabulary more easily.

"Mis dos céntimos..."

Esteban
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Old 12 May 2012
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There is a free site that is worth checking out. SpanishDict | English to Spanish Translation, Dictionary and Translator | Diccionario y traductor inglés español I subscribe to their e-mail Spanish word of the day. They have a good translation software and a couple of other features. Dave

P.S. Delbert hope your trip is going well.
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Old 12 May 2012
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I tried these courses before I went to South America. They are useful for learning how people sound on a tape while talking at half speed using words and phrases that you will probably never hear.

I jibbed them off and did a GCSE at night school one day a week. Then I did an AS. It's easily doable if you have a plan to go somewhere in a year or two. It's really so much better to learn with other people and have exams to push yourself to study for.

However, once I got to Argentina I felt like I shouldn't of bothered at all. Once you get into slang, dialects, accents it all changes. I was totally lost.

I had to go back to basics and just ask bi-lingual locals what I should be asking for and what words people use etc.

The ONLY ONLY way to learn a language is to just listen,try,try, listen, try and then listen some more. Immersion is SO important.

I learnt more Spanish in 6 months touring (mostly speaking in English too) than two years of and countless books, audio books etc


Lastly... TRAVEL ALONE !! You're language skills will improve DRAMATICALLY.

Ride safe, Ted
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