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Learning Spanish

Learning Spanish

Old Sep 15th 2012, 1:50 pm
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Default Learning Spanish

I have been living in Spain for 3 years but I am really struggling with moving forward with the language. I have a huge vocabulary of words, can read and understand it reasonably well and can shop, go to the Dr, Town hall and can even follow some of what is going on in the parents meetings at school! but..... unless I know roughly what a conversation is going to be about I easily get the wrong end of the stick. My other problem is that in my head I know what I need to say but when I open my mouth it all goes horribly wrong! I have tried private lessons but in between school runs and the added mums taxi service there is little time in my day, also speaking for just an hour was helping but the conversations never get very deep. Someone has suggested I try the Rosetta Stone course on the internet and CD as I could do this in the evenings has anyone used this? I am now wondering whether to try a total immersion program and go away for 2 weeks of lessons whilst staying with a host family, I wondered if anyone has tried one of these? I have tried to get the children to speak to me in Spanish at home but they keep forgetting and we all find ourselves talking English again, I am fluent in telling them to behave in Spanish ! I am a shy person when it comes to talking to strangers socially and have made a mess up so often that I am beginning to avoid having a go! So any feedback on either of these options would be really helpful. Thank You
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Old Sep 15th 2012, 11:01 pm
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Immersion. Spanish TV only. Spanish newspaper each day. Movies in Spanish are good (loud). Take up a hobby to do with something local - perhaps the history of the church or the town. Join the local club or peña or something social. Write articles or letters or even a diary in Spanish. Don't worry about the mistakes. I think learning Spanish is learning the culture - the language follows. Good luck, y suerte.
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Old Sep 15th 2012, 11:50 pm
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Originally Posted by flotsum View Post
I have been living in Spain for 3 years but I am really struggling with moving forward with the language. I have a huge vocabulary of words, can read and understand it reasonably well and can shop, go to the Dr, Town hall and can even follow some of what is going on in the parents meetings at school! but..... unless I know roughly what a conversation is going to be about I easily get the wrong end of the stick. My other problem is that in my head I know what I need to say but when I open my mouth it all goes horribly wrong! I have tried private lessons but in between school runs and the added mums taxi service there is little time in my day, also speaking for just an hour was helping but the conversations never get very deep. Someone has suggested I try the Rosetta Stone course on the internet and CD as I could do this in the evenings has anyone used this? I am now wondering whether to try a total immersion program and go away for 2 weeks of lessons whilst staying with a host family, I wondered if anyone has tried one of these? I have tried to get the children to speak to me in Spanish at home but they keep forgetting and we all find ourselves talking English again, I am fluent in telling them to behave in Spanish ! I am a shy person when it comes to talking to strangers socially and have made a mess up so often that I am beginning to avoid having a go! So any feedback on either of these options would be really helpful. Thank You
know what it is like
I get tongue tied, lapse into English, can only think of and use the French word to the amazement of the person I am talking to ( Miss Smith would be surprised that I still remember her lessons of 50 years ago!)
The hardest part of all I have found is the saying of the words, even after practicing before using, I get blank looks. Perhaps I will have to get rid of the GUIRI stamp on my forehead.

The other day, visiting a regular bar instead of a tubo of cerveza I asked for a vino tinto and got an angry look as he said he didnt understand me. Or was that just he had difficulty in accepting I could drink something other than his chemical beer.

when in bars etc I listen to the conversations - but rarely hear a word I understand, mostly it sounds like Chinese but a couple of octaves lower.
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 4:51 am
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Spanish, the trouble is you have local dialects of Spanish. When I first moved into a totally spanish community, I found I could understand one off my neighbours, his wife I hadn't a clue what she was saying and likewise my other neighbour who was from Barcelona, I understood her Spanish better than her husbands. So you can learn correct Spanish from a CD etc, but it doesn't make you necessarily understand the locals around you. It's a bit like another nationality learning English, say Home Counties, then going up north or Wales etc. I found since I've made an effort, the Spanish are tolerant of it, and we laugh at my prouncation (sp) sometimes. I never forget when I first moving here asking my neighbour what colour he was going to paint his gate. Except that I had actually asked what colour he was going to paint his whore, due to my prounation. They laughed about that for a long time lol. Some things I understand or get the gist of it, other times it goes over my head.

Sometimes I go to restaurants where the spanish waiter speaks English, I then speak in Spainish when I'm ordering and you will find those who wish to improve their english will continue. So I've had parallel convensations, but it's helped me learn whether they have understood me, and they also then know that I've understood their English. It is a bit strange doing it, because you automatically want to speak English when they are doing so....but I hang in there. I also totally ignore those who are watching me as well doing it, ha ha ha.

When I first went to language school which I gave up because the tutor didn't speak English at all, and it was a bit like charades for me so I gave up. But some of the Japanese who were at the school used children books to help them. I think using various forms of learning helps. I tend to understand more than I can find the words, so I'm thinking of doing the Rosetta courses, moreso via computer so I can listen to the pronouncation and you can speak to the computer to compare. This will help me I think to practice and the computer can then bleep at me, lol. but I'm also aware that I have to tune into the dialects here. Reading spanish is easier as many of the words are similar to English but spelt and prounced differently. If I'm having a convesation and someone isn't qutie getting it, I write it down, that often also helps and if there is a language problem, they often then understand what I'm getting at.

Funny I did what Domico did when I first came here, I went back to my school days of French, and German, so my sentences where a mixture of words from my school days lol. The main thing is I always try and speak Spanish, if anyone can speak English, they tend to hop in when I'm starting to really struggle or they go into baby language ha ha ha. I'm more self conscious when I'm around Brits who speak Spanish as they seem to me more critical.

Last edited by Mercedes; Sep 16th 2012 at 4:59 am.
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 8:48 am
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Great to hear Im not the only one, as these comments only echo my experiences.So I am not alone.
I try and read revistas, spanish tele spanish songs,every different avenue I can to try and absorb the language as much as possible.
Three years now and still trying to learn
I honestly find it difficult but I have learnt tooooo much to give up now.( If that makes sense)
Its the sentence construction and past and present Im concentrating on now but in the village they use so much spanish slang. Having a conversation is hard
I have a slow recall and think afterwards I should have said .
To late opportunity lost.
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 9:04 am
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Originally Posted by Mercedes View Post
Spanish, the trouble is you have local dialects of Spanish. When I first moved into a totally spanish community, I found I could understand one off my neighbours, his wife I hadn't a clue what she was saying and likewise my other neighbour who was from Barcelona, I understood her Spanish better than her husbands. So you can learn correct Spanish from a CD etc, but it doesn't make you necessarily understand the locals around you. It's a bit like another nationality learning English, say Home Counties, then going up north or Wales etc. I found since I've made an effort, the Spanish are tolerant of it, and we laugh at my prouncation (sp) sometimes. I never forget when I first moving here asking my neighbour what colour he was going to paint his gate. Except that I had actually asked what colour he was going to paint his whore, due to my prounation. They laughed about that for a long time lol. Some things I understand or get the gist of it, other times it goes over my head.

Sometimes I go to restaurants where the spanish waiter speaks English, I then speak in Spainish when I'm ordering and you will find those who wish to improve their english will continue. So I've had parallel convensations, but it's helped me learn whether they have understood me, and they also then know that I've understood their English. It is a bit strange doing it, because you automatically want to speak English when they are doing so....but I hang in there. I also totally ignore those who are watching me as well doing it, ha ha ha.
When I first went to language school which I gave up because the tutor didn't speak English at all, and it was a bit like charades for me so I gave up. But some of the Japanese who were at the school used children books to help them. I think using various forms of learning helps. I tend to understand more than I can find the words, so I'm thinking of doing the Rosetta courses, moreso via computer so I can listen to the pronouncation and you can speak to the computer to compare. This will help me I think to practice and the computer can then bleep at me, lol. but I'm also aware that I have to tune into the dialects here. Reading spanish is easier as many of the words are similar to English but spelt and prounced differently. If I'm having a convesation and someone isn't qutie getting it, I write it down, that often also helps and if there is a language problem, they often then understand what I'm getting at.

Funny I did what Domico did when I first came here, I went back to my school days of French, and German, so my sentences where a mixture of words from my school days lol. The main thing is I always try and speak Spanish, if anyone can speak English, they tend to hop in when I'm starting to really struggle or they go into baby language ha ha ha. I'm more self conscious when I'm around Brits who speak Spanish as they seem to me more critical.
I had to laugh when I read your post, it gave me a chuckle.

I think you have explained the "cringe factor" very well.

I remember when my parents spoke Spanish when they met other Spanish peeps in the UK, and us kids in tow would not even try to, unless we were totally cornered, so to speak.

We had a mixture of full Spanish parents, my case, and mixed.

The children of the mixed obviously did not hear so much Spanish at home as we did, but we still found it daunting to be in situations where we had to speak in the presence of others.

It was difficult for all of us, as the better speakers did not want to be seen as showing off , and being corrected in front of the lesser speakers was a real cause for feeling a fool, and the less able were afraid of being laughed at.

So most of the conversations were, parents speaking Spanish and kids answering in English.

I often think back to meeting my now husband, what was the thing that I was most hesitant about, sleeping with him or speaking in Spanish together.

It seems so silly now, but it was no joke then, just dive in a don't give a stuff about the audience, although I do know from experience that it is easier said than done.

Last edited by me me; Sep 16th 2012 at 9:07 am.
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 9:56 am
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Thanks everyone, glad its not just me, I think I have started holding back.... probably the misunderstanding when I thought the neighbors were showing me how to make soap and I said I put caustic soda in mine when they were actually showing me how to make migas for dinner! did not help my confidence, bless them they didn't say anything although several people left the room very quickly! I think joining a club would be good but it is going to have to be one which I can take the children with me as they are too young to be left. Also I think that the people I see regularly all just assume I do not understand them because I take too long to reply so I must make the effort to answer a bit quicker and instinctively rather than thinking it through.
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 10:17 am
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Originally Posted by flotsum View Post
Thanks everyone, glad its not just me, I think I have started holding back.... probably the misunderstanding when I thought the neighbors were showing me how to make soap and I said I put caustic soda in mine when they were actually showing me how to make migas for dinner! did not help my confidence, bless them they didn't say anything although several people left the room very quickly! I think joining a club would be good but it is going to have to be one which I can take the children with me as they are too young to be left. Also I think that the people I see regularly all just assume I do not understand them because I take too long to reply so I must make the effort to answer a bit quicker and instinctively rather than thinking it through.
I think your further ahead than me,Its just a confidence issue with you.
I stand there sometimes working the answer through must look quite simple with my mouth open, and dont answer at all, OHHH I get sooooo embarassed shame shame
Not exactly spontaneous, not only that it can come over that Im deliberately trying to be rude and bad mannered which is not the case .

Last edited by DENISE WALTERS; Sep 16th 2012 at 10:22 am. Reason: added
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 10:58 am
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

6 years living in Spain and it's only this year I've begun to speak it (semi-)fluently. It's lack of immersion, since I live and work on a private project where my girlfriend and her family speak English (to my detriment) as well as French and Spanish (with understanding of Catalan and German thrown in).

It's the conjugations that get me. I'm limited by vocabulary and some grammar, but I can hold a decent conversation. I just hope to get more practice.

The good thing is most people seem surprised, even appreciative, that you can speak their language, so it doesn't matter getting it right. My motto is often "no se dice pero se entiende" (it isn't said, but it's understood).

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Old Sep 16th 2012, 11:24 am
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Go to a Spanish city. Take a daily language course (with other foreigners) of 2-4 weeks. Make sure you put the effort in ie homework, do the exercises. It won't stop the need for further study, as learning a language is a life long task, but it will save you those 1 to 5 years where you never make headway.
And yes, I agree that watching Spanish tv, listening to Spanish music, helps a lot - but normally you need the foundations in place.
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 4:44 pm
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

I think the main thing is not to take ourselves seriously and being able to laugh at ourselves. I travelled years ago with a French, and German guy and both spoke perfect English. What they told me was that if people in their home countries were seen to be making an effort, regardless how bad it was, they would step in an speak English if they had to. However, what really pissed them off was when people didn't make any effort at all and expected them to speak English, both said they wouldn't do it and didn't. I have people know I'm English (the GB plates gave it away) and have delibrately spoken to me in Spanish, so I've gone along with it, once they have seen I've got to the point I was then struggling, they then spoke perfect English for the rest of the conversation.

I had one of the locals who did my garden, since I seem to kill anything in it, and he was very negative towards me, and I did get the gist of one of his conversations where he was being rude. The body language of my neighbour also confirmed it. He also wouldn't clean up his mess. He was invited to my neighbour for a coffee and I went around there to give him his money, and they invited me to join them. One of the other Spanish locals was making a joke and I got the gist of it and laughed. The gardener then thought I understood what he had said and was quick to make ammends and went and cleaned up his mess. He also shakes my hand when he sees me and has bought me a drink, even though he now knows my Spanish isn't that great lol. One thing is considering I am a foreigner living amonsgst them, they haven't given up on me, those who critisised me for not speaking spanish, realise I'm doing my best and accommodate me now. I'am always invited around to my neighbours and am slowly being accepted by my other locals because the family is known to them. I could have been treated like a Foreigner, I wonder how I would have been treated in UK, if I couldn't speak English in a village and whether people would have been so tolerant. So as my one neighbour said I'm getting better and the Spanish have a great sense of humour and laugh with me about it sometimes.

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Old Sep 16th 2012, 5:57 pm
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Re using Rosetta Stone on the computer and being able perfect the pronunciation. I find that a big downside of the program, it so pedantic and will not let you move on till it has accepted what you are saying. In particular when it breaks words down there is only so many ways you can say mu in mujer. You can disble this but then you have a very expensive flash card system.
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 9:40 pm
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Last year I read a whole series of X-Men comics. Seems childish but matching words with context is a good way of learning a language I think.

Picture books are useful.
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Old Sep 16th 2012, 11:31 pm
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Originally Posted by Treegod View Post
Last year I read a whole series of X-Men comics. Seems childish but matching words with context is a good way of learning a language I think.

Picture books are useful.
haha that's a really good idea. I speak Spanish pretty well, including grammar (reflexive verbs confuse me the most), I just need to improve my vocabulary. Thanks for the tip!
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Old Sep 17th 2012, 12:41 am
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Default Re: Learning Spanish

Originally Posted by doo View Post
haha that's a really good idea. I speak Spanish pretty well, including grammar (reflexive verbs confuse me the most), I just need to improve my vocabulary. Thanks for the tip!
I have been speaking English for very nearly 65 years and havent a clue about conjugating verbs etc - must have been off sick that day

As to the other parts, well I have started learning certain "common" phrases when shopping or in the bar and try them out - if I am right in the pronunciation I get a big smile, when it is wrong they correct me, I repeat and bingo

now tell me again why so many people arriving in the UK have problems integrating - because the just can't speak the language.
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