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to old to learn spanish

to old to learn spanish

Old Jul 21st 2008, 9:29 pm
  #46  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bokeh View Post
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.
Sure, I think my level is at about 15 months. I can understand a lot but say very little.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 11:05 pm
  #47  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Well, I have never heard of different types of conditional, and I can't find any in the pages of Spanish verbs 501 which is the only ref book I have to hand, all the rest are packed prior to shipping them out.

501 refers to the pres sub, the imp sub, the perfect sub and the pluperfect sub

If definitely requires the imperfect, just as it does in English

If I was = wrong
If I were = correct.

I really must sit down one day and try and get the subjs into a form that I can grasp, and then thrash it into shape with someone who really, really knows it inside down and upside out.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 11:44 pm
  #48  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bil View Post
Well, I have never heard of different types of conditional, and I can't find any in the pages of Spanish verbs 501 which is the only ref book I have to hand
Here's a page that explains them.

As far as learning Spanish goes if you can say a sentence like "I wear a belt so my trousers don't fall down" without making an error or thinking too hard then your level is pretty good. Or if you know and understand the difference between the 4 types of "por que". (por qué, porque, por que & porqué)

Last edited by bokeh; Jul 21st 2008 at 11:48 pm.
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Old Jul 21st 2008, 11:57 pm
  #49  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

OK, most interesting. I now see where the confusion lies. You were referring to conditional phrases, I was referring to the conditional tense, which is a whole different bag of fish.

The real test of skill would be in telling which porque was being used.

The huge problem with it all is that you need to understand precisely which tense you are using in English, in order to then translate it accurately.

A simple example would be understanding the difference between I would speak, and I could speak.
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Old Jul 22nd 2008, 1:26 pm
  #50  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bokeh View Post
"I wear a belt so my trousers don't fall down"
How do you say that in Spanish?
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Old Aug 1st 2008, 10:02 pm
  #51  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bil View Post
The huge problem with it all is that you need to understand precisely which tense you are using in English, in order to then translate it accurately..
I think this is true up to a point, without getting too bogged down in conditionals and subjunctives.

For example, it's really useful to be able to distinguish between
"Yes, I will do that" and "Yes, I have already done that".

I have a couple of friends who have lived in Spain for 5 years now - and know lots of words for things, of course, but still don't understand how to conjugate a verb. Or that you don't need to say "Yo" for "I" or "Tu" for "You", because it's implicit in the verb. The result is that they can't string a sentence together, but talk in a kind of "pidgin" Spanish. ("me coffee, you?")

On the other hand, I have heard that it's possible for an adult to become fluent in a foreign language just by listening and imitating, without really understanding the underlying structure - just as most people do in their native tongue - although I have to admit to being sceptical!
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Old Aug 1st 2008, 10:08 pm
  #52  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Um. Well, yes and no. Fluency is open to a thousand interpretations, and I sometimes consider that it will always remain beyond the grasp of even a serious student. That would be the true fluency of educated and elegant useage.

A bit like the frog that crosses the pond. On the first time he crosses half the pond, and then with each hop he only covers half of the distance of the last hop.

Without knowing the grammar, you cannot understand the language, in the sense that you can never understand why the words change in a certain way.

I will always be striving to improve mine, because it is important to me to speak well. I'll be quite happy to be like the frog.
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Old Aug 2nd 2008, 9:56 am
  #53  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

I am fortunate that my degree (more years ago than I care to remember) was in Languages - in a place called Babel I believe.
However, as I think I have posted before, just in case we need some extra income I recently undertook a TEFL course to teach English abroad.
Part involved beginning to learn a language that was COMPLETELY unknown to all on the course. Without books, videos or any other kind of aid.
After two weeks we could all hold very basic conversations. In Estonian!
I say this "pour encourager les autres". I firmly believe anyone CAN learn another language.
But I would reallly stress Bil's point. Language conveys meaning in chunks and it is possible to acquire 75 or 80 per cent of the meaning through the nouns, and infinitive forms of the verbs. But if you want to hold a discussion rather than a chat, a good understanding of grammar is essential. It is unfortunate that grammar is taught so little in English schools nowadays. It makes it so much easier if you know how the conditionals and passives are used in your own language before you start learning them in another. You might also get a new career out of it!
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Old Aug 2nd 2008, 10:00 am
  #54  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by bil View Post
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.
the important thing is to open your mouth & try!

I have some students who want to learn all the ins & outs of grammar, and others who just want to know what to say in a given situation. The latter tend to learn more quickly initially, and we can get into grammar later.

One of my students (who had studied latin!) couldn't get to grips with answering 'me llamo.............' to the question 'como te llamas' or 'como se llama' no matter how many times we went over it. He could conjugate the verb if we tried that as an excercise, and understood perfectly. But he just couldn't deal with it in conversation!

eventually I said - just say 'soy................' problem solved!!! It may not be 'correct' but he can now get past the block he had and talk!

I have another couple of 'older' ladies who have had lessons for years with other teachers - they know & understand tons of spanish - various tenses - but if you try to get them to talk they try so hard to get it right that they freeze up & in the end say nothing. I'm gradually curing them of that & they will soon be having joint 'conversation' classes with a couple of my spanish ladies who are learning english with me.

Horses for courses, but I truly belive that it's better to say something not quite 'correct' than to say nothing at all!
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Old Aug 2nd 2008, 10:10 am
  #55  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by Quiterio View Post
I think this is true up to a point, without getting too bogged down in conditionals and subjunctives.

For example, it's really useful to be able to distinguish between
"Yes, I will do that" and "Yes, I have already done that".

I have a couple of friends who have lived in Spain for 5 years now - and know lots of words for things, of course, but still don't understand how to conjugate a verb. Or that you don't need to say "Yo" for "I" or "Tu" for "You", because it's implicit in the verb. The result is that they can't string a sentence together, but talk in a kind of "pidgin" Spanish. ("me coffee, you?")

On the other hand, I have heard that it's possible for an adult to become fluent in a foreign language just by listening and imitating, without really understanding the underlying structure - just as most people do in their native tongue - although I have to admit to being sceptical!
you don't need to, but you can if it helps you, it isn't 'incorrect'. Of course, you do still need to conjugate the verb............

some of my students simply find it easier to say 'yo', 'tu' etc. - it helps them to use the correct conjugation
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Old Aug 2nd 2008, 10:39 am
  #56  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Whenever you start a new language there is a period before you can make the right noises. I spent two years learning Japanese, and it was awhile before I could say anything. It was just like being struck dumb.

Students vary enormously with their abilities and desires.

One of the huge problems that students routinely face is that teachers do not determine just what the abilities of a group are, and where their strengths are.

Grammar is important for a number of reasons. Unless your learning is to be restricted to the parroting of set phrases, you have to know what the grammatical terms are. After all, what's the point of saying 'there's no gerund' in Spanish if no-one knows what a gerund is, or how it is formed?

A good understanding of grammar also allows you to take shortcuts, because it allows the student to see the patterns which render the massed, repetitious rote learning of verbs redundant.
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Old Aug 4th 2008, 9:48 pm
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by lynnxa View Post
you don't need to, but you can if it helps you, it isn't 'incorrect'. Of course, you do still need to conjugate the verb............

some of my students simply find it easier to say 'yo', 'tu' etc. - it helps them to use the correct conjugation
Yes, of course. But I was thinking of listening comprehension.

These poor people are desperately listening for a 'yo' or a 'tu' and wondering why they're not picking up the sense of what's being said.
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Old Aug 5th 2008, 7:56 am
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Cool Re: to old to learn spanish

In some tenses the yo and the usted are written/said in the same way,so I think that just for clarification it's easier if you use them

I have seen language learning from both sides of the spectrum. I used to teach English to foreign students - at the local college. Now I am a pensioner, have a holiday home in Spain, and I am learning Spanish. Have been at it for 5years - and am lucky to have a tutor who comes to my house to teach me - for only £10 an hour (which stretches to one and a half hours for the same price). I find the 1-1 situation far better as hardly got a chance to talk in class situation (went to local classes for 2 years and probably spoke as much there, in two years, as I do in one lesson now!). I also have a Spanish penfriend, of about the same age as myself, and we correct each others work. We exchange letters at a more chatty level, so am picking up many of the sayings along the way. That has been a great help to both of us. When I can get Skype to work I'll actually start chatting to her in person.

No matter just how much book learning you do the vital thing is being able to communicate.

Just one point about rote learning. I found that this method worked for me when I was leaning French over 50 years ago - and can still remember a lot now. I started off learning Spanish verbs this way and found that they quickly clicked into place - especially some of those "horrible" irregular ones!
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Old Aug 5th 2008, 8:16 am
  #59  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Originally Posted by HomoErectus View Post
How do you say that in Spanish?
"llevo puesto un cinturon así que no se me caen los pantalones"
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Old Aug 5th 2008, 9:14 am
  #60  
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Default Re: to old to learn spanish

Hello,
I am Spanish and i just wanted to say that, as a lot of people have already said here, the age doesn't import to learn a Language.
If i tell the truth, i have forgotten all the spanish grammar i had learned when i was a child (like the 90% of Spanish people, unless you are a teacher), nevertheless, it doesn't stop me speaking a perfect Spanish. It means that you can speak a language without knowing the grammar. Besides that, speaking is the first you learn when you are a child, later, you learn grammar but you already know how to communicate and being able to communicate, as jdr said, is the most important. Living abroad is the best way to learn the language, just by listening to people, watching TV, listening to music...
well, all of this is just my opinion .
I wish i could speak English, i have already learned the English grammar but i understand hardly anything when someone speaks to me in this language. Knowing grammar helps me to write a little better (i keep on making mistakes, of course) but nothing else and at least for me, the fact to be able to communicate is the most important.
regards,
marisol
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