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to old to learn spanish

to old to learn spanish

Old Jul 21st 2008, 10:33 am
  #31  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Grammar is interesting. There is actually a genetic component to it, so we really are all born with different levels of ability to handle grammar.

For example there is a family in the UK that cannot ever learn grammar, can't produce grammatical sentences and can't grasp the most basic rules.

The gene, or lack of it is inherited in exactly the same way as haemophilia. It's recessive, and can be followed down thru their family tree.

The important thing at the end is to be able to speak some Spanish, no matter how bad, and be able to communicate. Without that first step, no-one would ever start. Learning the rules of grammar then enable you to progress and improve. Absorbtion alone will mean that you simply pick up other people's errors.

Me, I focus on grammar and try and learn as much of it as I can. Languages are important to me and when I learn them, I like to learn them well and speak them properly.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 11:36 am
  #32  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

My Spanish is ticking along, having never taken any formal lessons but living in a Spanish-speaking village - although I still have trouble understanding many people, I can now have simple conversations with others. I was 54 when I started learning and had learned French and German up to O level at school.

My husband learned NO languages at school whatsoever, but is doing OK having started at 55 and can have simple conversations with some people and manage OK with shopping etc.

Both of us have trouble with telephone calls and usually get our quadro-lingual French friend to make them for us!

But I agree with others, you will be respected for attempting to learn and no-one will mind if you make a mistake. Do keep up your lessons.

As an aside - one thing we've recently found is that having just returned to our village after seven weeks in the UK, our Spanish actually seems BETTER than before we left! Maybe our ageing brains needed a rest????

Last edited by scampicat; Jul 21st 2008 at 11:39 am.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 2:46 pm
  #33  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by celestine View Post
However individuals have a variety of learning style
I really don't see what you are arguing about. Are you suggesting that someone who doesn't have any concept of the elements of language will find learning a new one just as easy as someone who does?
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 5:36 pm
  #34  
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Exclamation Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bokeh View Post
I really don't see what you are arguing about. Are you suggesting that someone who doesn't have any concept of the elements of language will find learning a new one just as easy as someone who does?
Firstly may I point out the fact that I am certainly not arguing as to do this would be a waste of my time and energy. The starting point for this debate was based upon your comment to a member merely seeking support and advice from fellow expats. They do not deserve to have someone condescending them for using 'to' instead of 'too'. Nor for insinuating that if they do not have the ability to analyse and describe the semantic, syntagmatic and paradigmatic relationships in the lexicon they will have difficulty learning another language. They deserve encouragement and nothing less. I will waste no further time on this debate.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 5:59 pm
  #35  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bokeh View Post
I really don't see what you are arguing about. Are you suggesting that someone who doesn't have any concept of the elements of language will find learning a new one just as easy as someone who does?
I think it depends on what you are trying to do. If your only desire is to get by, and you don't care if you sound like the stereotypical comic foreigners do on UK TV, then grammar won't really bother you.

If your desire is to speak the language elegantly, correctly and grammatically, they you sure as sh*t need that grammar book.

You could absorb English and have not the slightest idea that there was a subjunctive tense. You would get by but every time you said 'If I was to go there' it would set my teeth on edge.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 6:53 pm
  #36  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bil View Post
I think it depends on what you are trying to do.
When I first started Spanish I went to night school. The class was full of people that wasted lots of time asking questions like what is an adjective. After a month they'd all left and the rest of us could get down to actually learning Spanish rather than what the basic elements of a language are.
Originally Posted by bil View Post
If your only desire is to get by
Well, even if you can't speak elegantly getting by requires a huge amount of knowledge. Then again I guess it depends what getting by means; do you just want to be able to order a beer, to be able to visit the doctor and be able to explain what's wrong, to be able to use the phone to query a bill, or to be able to discuss global warming. All are pretty basic and certainly possible with the language skills of a five-year-old.

Originally Posted by bil View Post
You could absorb English and have not the slightest idea that there was a subjunctive tense. You would get by but every time you said 'If I was to go there' it would set my teeth on edge.
That's not an error though, it's an idiosyncrasy of Standard English. In most other English dialects (only 12% of native English speakers worldwide speak Standard English) the "were" form is not used. Anyway this idiosyncrasy only effects the verb "to be" since with all other verbs the simple past ("was" in the case of the verb "to be") is always used here. Also, these days, most people don't use that construction anymore. Instead they say "if I go..." (type 1 conditional), or "if I went..." (type 2 conditional).
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 7:05 pm
  #37  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bokeh View Post

That's not an error though, it's an idiosyncrasy of Standard English. In most other English dialects (only 12% of native English speakers worldwide speak Standard English) the "were" form is not used. Anyway this idiosyncrasy only effects the verb "to be" since with all other verbs the simple past ("was" in the case of the verb "to be") is always used here. Also, these days, most people don't use that construction anymore. Instead they say "if I go..." (type 1 conditional), or "if I went..." (type 2 conditional).
I'd say that was definitely an error, as the subjunctive is a very real tense. What other countries choose to do with English is up to them. I use mine in the UK, so that's the type of english I use. Papua New Guinea English is of little relevance to how I use my native tongue.

These days most people seem to talk English with no care for punctuation, grammar or even sense. That doesn't make it right, or even well good, innit?

Care to extrapolate what you mean by type 1 &2 conditional? Pop it into a sentence please so I can see what you mean. The latter one to me seems like the subjunctive. It does always puzzle me as to why the conditional isn't classed as a subjunctive, since it too deals with unreal constructions.

The difference is easier to spot in Spanish (to me)

Tener > Tendria (conditional) > tenga (subjunctive.)
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 7:21 pm
  #38  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Ooher, isn't this debate going frighten chippie2 off learning the language?
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 7:35 pm
  #39  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

I will be starting out to try and learn a language that is different to me,who knows where it may lead to ,its a bit of an insult to accuse people that just want to get by, as only needing a brain of a 5 year old ,what is wrong with just wanting to get by we are not all blessed with an academic brain or been to uni and had the training ,I know people who have had a good education cannot bang a nail in the wall I dont run them down, shall do my best and thats it
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 7:46 pm
  #40  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by chippie2 View Post
I will be starting out to try and learn a language that is different to me,who knows where it may lead to ,its a bit of an insult to accuse people that just want to get by, as only needing a brain of a 5 year old ,what is wrong with just wanting to get by we are not all blessed with an academic brain or been to uni and had the training ,I know people who have had a good education cannot bang a nail in the wall I dont run them down, shall do my best and thats it
Good on yer !
Take no notice, take your time and don`t get stressed out learning too much at a time, sit in the Spanish bars and listen for a while also.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 7:53 pm
  #41  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

thanks, Ill do that
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 7:58 pm
  #42  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by chippie2 View Post
I will be starting out to try and learn a language that is different to me,who knows where it may lead to ,its a bit of an insult to accuse people that just want to get by, as only needing a brain of a 5 year old ,what is wrong with just wanting to get by we are not all blessed with an academic brain or been to uni and had the training ,I know people who have had a good education cannot bang a nail in the wall I dont run them down, shall do my best and thats it
I think we all acknowledge that we've all got strengths and weaknesses. If you are not naturally a linguist, then it just means you have to work a bit harder. But that applies to all things in life.

I bet you can knock up a mean bookcase in no time at all.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 8:05 pm
  #43  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by chippie2 View Post
I will be starting out to try and learn a language that is different to me,who knows where it may lead to ,its a bit of an insult to accuse people that just want to get by, as only needing a brain of a 5 year old ,what is wrong with just wanting to get by we are not all blessed with an academic brain or been to uni and had the training ,I know people who have had a good education cannot bang a nail in the wall I dont run them down, shall do my best and thats it
I would much rather be surrounded with genuine people Chippie2 good luck get out there and the rest will come naturally. By the way I wouldn't consider an academic brain a 'blessing' just a difference. When I joined this site I assumed people would be empathetic, helpful, caring and encouraging I am not so sure now. Good luck.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 8:26 pm
  #44  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bil View Post
What other countries choose to do with English is up to them.
According to Peter Trudgill only 12-15% of the population of the British Isles speak Standard English.

Originally Posted by bil View Post
Care to extrapolate what you mean by type 1 &2 conditional?
  • Type 1 > If I go I'll catch the bus. > Probable
  • Type 2 > If I went I would catch the bus. > Unlikely
  • Type 3 > If I had gone I would have caught the bus. > Hypothesis of the past.
They're the 3 default ones, then there are also mixtures and variations.
Originally Posted by bil View Post
The latter one to me seems like the subjunctive.
Yes, but it is imperfect subjunctive.

Originally Posted by bil View Post
It does always puzzle me as to why the conditional isn't classed as a subjunctive, since it too deals with unreal constructions.
The conditional is conditional to the fulfilment of the "if" clause. Sometimes the "if" clause can't be fulfilled but that is a characteristic of the "if" clause not the "conditional" clause.

Originally Posted by bil View Post
Tener > Tendria (conditional) > tenga (subjunctive.)
OK, but that is the present subjunctive, something which is never used in an "if" clause in Spanish. Instead you would need the imperfect subjunctive: Si tuviera que ir tendría que coger el autobús, (if I had to go I would have to catch the bus).

Last edited by bokeh; Jul 21st 2008 at 8:53 pm.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 8:47 pm
  #45  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by chippie2 View Post
its a bit of an insult to accuse people that just want to get by, as only needing a brain of a 5 year old
That wasn't what I said. I said to be able to do all those things you only need the language skills of a five-year-old. You might take that as an insult but it is certainly not. In the time I have been in Spain I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of Brits who I have meet that have the linguistic skills of a five-year-old mother tongue Spanish speaker (fluency, vocabulary and understanding of the structure of the language). Believe it or not a five-year-old has a pretty advanced level.
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