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johanson


Dec 26, 2008, 3:57 PM

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I hope this is OK to post here and not in the Tech forum where I am moderator or in the learning Spanish forum, because the readers I am aiming at would not look at those topics anyway.

I know I'm a nerd and as a result thereof I have local cable, DISH and Star Choice. Well on Christmas night, I had guests (only some of whom were strong in both English and Spanish). After dinner we voted to watch The Grinch who stole Christmas. Sure we could have watched it on an English language satellite systems, but I chose to watch it on Telecable. It was a great solution. It was in English and subtitled in Spanish.

Now one of the languages I kind-of-sort-of speak is Spanish. I hate to admit it, but I learned a few more Spanish words accidently because I would always look at the Spanish subtitles as the English was being spoken.

So for those of you who are lazy like me and want to learn Spanish while being entertained, why not before buying a satellite TV system try out your local cable company. You would be surprised how many English language programs there are and how many are subtitled in Spanish.

Again forgive me for posting this here. But I am trying to reach my fellow lazy Expat who would love to learn Spanish, but who doesn't want to take the time to do it.

Oh, and Merry day after Christmas.

PS, My favorite Christmas present was a bumper sticker for the car I keep in Seattle which says "Que Me Vez Buey"


(This post was edited by johanson on Dec 26, 2008, 7:10 PM)



ken_in_dfw

Dec 26, 2008, 8:35 PM

Post #2 of 16 (10950 views)

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Great way to learn a language!

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I have a friend who is Flemish (Dutch-speaking) Belgian. When I was over for a visit, I noticed how many people speak English so well and marvelled at the fluency. I asked her about this - given that so many people struggle to pick up a second or third language.

She said that they all learn English watching programming from the UK and the US with Flemish sub-titles. Because so much of the popular television programs are produced in the English-speaking countries, they all grow up watching native English-speakers with subtitling in Flemish.

I know that my Spanish has improved significantly when I have been able to watch movies from the States with Spanish sub-titles. So, I'd say this is an excellent method of learning, Pete.


Bethie

Dec 27, 2008, 4:15 AM

Post #3 of 16 (10934 views)

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Re: [kenhjr] Great way to learn a language!

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I also learn alot of spanish from TV. On Saturdays there are alot of cartoons on Univision. I watch Diego, Dora the Explorer and Pinky Dinky Do-childrens shows in spanish and I turn on the captioning which is in Spanish. My SO watches and helps me with pronouncing the words, etc. It is a great way to learn. We also watch movies that we have seen a billion times (Skreck, Ice Age...) in spanish. It is a great way to learn, and fun!


Sunnyvmx


Dec 27, 2008, 6:37 AM

Post #4 of 16 (10916 views)

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Re: [Bethie] Great way to learn a language!

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Down the street from Tepetapan RV park here in Catemaco are several small tiendas. The family that owns the sandwich shop has become my small classroom. Passing by each day I greeted everyone on the street and their welcome extended to a chair on the sidewalk where the small boys said a few words in English. Never have I been approached for money, only for the exchange of greetings between new friends. This has developed into a 30 minute Spanish/English lesson each day for me and for the family including any children that may be passing by. Even the grandmother is there and joins in enthusiatically. Their books are in English only with no Spanish translation. Even though the drawings are excellent it makes their learning almost impossible. They understand my desire to learn also and the equal exchange creates much excitement and loud laughter. Word travels fast in a small town and I am greeted first these days and even given discounts without asking. More often I am asked to exchange some English and they are not so reluctant to correct my Spanish. This is an excellent approach to learning another language and I hope you will try it.


Carron

Dec 27, 2008, 7:25 AM

Post #5 of 16 (10907 views)

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Re: [johanson] General comment

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I taught ESL for a number of years and I had a short list of things I recommended my students do outside of class to improve their English. Watching sub-titled movies was one near the top. Another was keeping a radio on at home and in the car, turned to an English station. After a while, you amaze yourself at how much you can understand. Yet another suggestion was writing out your grocery list in English and saying "good morning" and "thank you" to the cashier.

I had one class of mostly older women in Del Rio who had grown up speaking nothing but Spanish in their homes, even though they had always lived in Texas. They were there because they wanted to communicate with their American-English-speaking grandchildren. My advice was to read aloud simple children's books to them and to write short letters and notes. Small children are uncritical about such things, simply enjoying the attention.

I am glad you posted here. The Spanish Language Forum is way beyond my abilities. Seems like most of the posters there are native speakers of Spanish from other countries who are trying to learn the nuances of the language as spoken in Mexico.


thriftqueen

Dec 28, 2008, 2:23 PM

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Re: [Sunny1] Great way to learn a language!

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Thanks for sharing your story. It's amazing how many different ways one can immerse themselves in the world around them. Our Spanish has been learned by give and take such as yours. Many times a teenager will come us to us in the grocery store and begin to use what English they can to practice. I will never be fluent, darn it!


johanson


Dec 28, 2008, 6:33 PM

Post #7 of 16 (10800 views)

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You know Carron, as I get older, I seem to learn more slowly. Here in Mexico, I too listen to Spanish language radio. And gosh, I do understand more and more. It's so easy for me to learn Spanish through default, by simply doing as you say. Boy do I make a lot of mistakes. But I speak it for an hour or two every day, imitating the Spanish of those with whom I speak Spanish (many whom also speak English) and I get along just fine. And if I, a C and D student when it comes to learning languages, can learn other languages, then the rest of you can do it too.

What motivates me most to try to learn Spanish, is my memory as a teenager of the prejudice I had towards those in the US who were speaking Spanish, those whom I incorrectly thought could not speak English. Many of the more educated Mexicans have/hold that same prejudice towards those of us who choose not to learn Spanish, thinking that perhaps we are rather poorly educated, you know, no High School degree, perhaps low class. Heck in the Netherlands (sometimes incorrectly called Holland) you can't even be a 3rd Lt, that's right 3rd Lt, unless you speak 3 languages. How poorly educated we must look to those persons from multi-lingual countries.

I have been lucky enough to have lived in the US, Canada, The Netherlands, Frei Staat Bayern (Bavaria) and now Mexico, where I have find-of-sort-of learned learned English, Dutch, Bavarian, and Spanish. And if I, a C and D student in languages can learn Spanish, then you can too, unless Alzheimer's has started to set in. (Sometimes I think I already have Partzheimers or is that Part-timers altzheimers)

May you all have a great new year. Me, I have to return to Gringolandia, actually Seattle for 3 weeks. Now if only the sun will come out for an hour or three and melt the snow when I am up there.



IslaZina


Jan 5, 2009, 2:05 PM

Post #8 of 16 (10705 views)

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I like Carron and Johanson's and radio-TV suggestions. To me, having done a blended immersion self-taught SSL (!?), it is the hearing of the cadence of the language that most quickly eases assimilation of it.
http://islazina@blogspot.com

(This post was edited by IslaZina on Jan 5, 2009, 2:10 PM)


Carron

Jan 8, 2009, 6:44 PM

Post #9 of 16 (10571 views)

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Another thing I realized when I first moved to Chiapas many years ago was that if I knew the names of local stores, streets, restaurants, and cultural places of interest it went a long way in helping me understand radio announcements, which are of course mostly commercials. Two of the very first new words my teenage daughters learned were "oferta" and "descuenta".

Another tip is to keep a basic Spanish/English dictionary with you. If conversation really breaks down you can always look up the word you need and show the translation to the other party. Sometimes this may lead to a lively discussion. For example, the terms for various livestock here in Coahuila are not the same as the words in my dictionary, but neighbors understand what I am trying to say and give me the correct local words. My dictionary says the word for "ewe" (female sheep) is oveja. A neighbor corrected me that term here was borrega. The general term is supposed to be borrego. But only the males are called "o" and the females are noted with the "a" ending. Similarly with goats. The word is chivas, but male studs are called chivos. Only adult female goats are chivas and young males are cabritos. Young females are chivitas.

This is more info than any of you want to know, but it illustrates how helpful friends and neighbors can be even when you are not terribly fluent in the language. They love the opportunity to teach us something! And will generally do it quite gracefully.

It is an accepted fact that the older you are the more difficult it will be for you to become really fluent in a new language. One problem I have is deafness in one ear. A little notebook and pen along with a polite request for the other person to write it down is a tremendous help to me.

Another problem is my accent. Often I know I am using the correct vocabulary and grammar, but the person to whom I am speaking simply does not understand. This is much less of a problem when the other person has had some experience either speaking another language or conversing with those for whom Spanish is not the first language.

And one of the basic techniques we use in teaching a foreign language is "Total Body..." I forget the exact term. It simply means to relax your inhibitions and act out with your full body what you are trying to say. Or if you are the least bit artistic you can always sketch your idea, request, need on a piece of paper.

What I find most helpful is talking with someone who speaks a little English, similar to my own level of everyday Spanish. Many lively conversations develop as we each speak as much of the other language as we can, then feel free to drop back to words in our own language when ideas exceed our fluency. Both my husband and I often find ourselves engaged in basic exchanges with neighbors and shopkeepers where we speak Spanish and they carry on in English.

I also remind my students that most average speakers of English have an everyday vocabulary of only about 1500 words. These are augmented by different vocabularies for work, hobbies, religious activities, sports, or other specific areas of expertise. Learning only those basic words will carry you through most daily activities. This is true of other languages as well, though I don't know the specific word count.


Carron

Jan 9, 2009, 12:46 PM

Post #10 of 16 (10504 views)

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Re: [johanson] General comment

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Now that we have a new Moderator and perhaps a more comprehensive (possibly even including "basic") Learning Spanish forum, perhaps this entire thread might be moved to that forum to show our support for the changes???


sergiogomez / Moderator

Jan 9, 2009, 2:24 PM

Post #11 of 16 (10481 views)

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It is in the Learning Spanish forum now. All I want to know is...where the heck was this discussion hidden? This is the kind of talk I was looking for on MexConnect for years and somehow managed to miss out on.

BTW, TV, movies, and radio are my all-time favorite ways to pick up and teach new languages. And with technological advances, the Internet. I'm a YouTube junkie, though you do have to pick and choose your material there as some of the videos have poor quality sound. There's just something about radio that makes it good for learning. Wish I knew what it was, but I don't. And subtitled movies are so much fun. I think re-experiencing anything familiar in another language is a great way to learn it. I heard a story once about an engineering professor who became fluent in Spanish by reading his favorite thermodynamics textbook in Spanish instead of English. There is no one "right" way to learn, just whatever floats your boat. And yes, the mistakes can be atrocious at first. It's normal, and thank God, it gets better with time.

As Will Rogers said, good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.


raferguson


Jan 9, 2009, 7:06 PM

Post #12 of 16 (10460 views)

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Re: [johanson] General comment

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A lot of good discussion.

Let me put in a slight dissenting voice. My preference is to watch subtitles in the same language as the audio. (This assumes that I have at least a moderate knowledge of the language). I learned this watching an old movie in French with French subtitles. My French is not that good, but with the written text, I was able to follow it, and learn to match the pronunciation with the spelling.

I find it distracting to watch a movie where the subtitles do not match the audio. I keep thinking about whether this or that was really a good translation. Sometimes the translation is surprisingly different from the original.

If I did not know one of the two languages, I would not experience this conflict, of course.

My two cents.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


Carol_Wheeler

Jan 9, 2009, 7:47 PM

Post #13 of 16 (10456 views)

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We have fun examining translations.

For example, in a U.S. action flick: "Oh sh**t!"

Subtitle: "Caramba!"

My son, then in junior high, said, "Mom, I don't think the translator really gets it.... Or maybe he's just being a gentleman?"


sergiogomez / Moderator

Jan 9, 2009, 8:56 PM

Post #14 of 16 (10452 views)

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Yes, translations are often very different from the original. Sometimes it's good, and sometimes it's not. It all depends on the translator, and it's one of those things you start noticing when you have a good grasp of both languages. I think the same thing goes for watching subtitles in the same language as the audio. Everyone is different, of course, and I think that subtitles in Spanish with English audio tends to work well for beginning learners, while Spanish/Spanish is gets more useful the more you know.


sergiogomez / Moderator

Jan 9, 2009, 9:00 PM

Post #15 of 16 (10451 views)

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Re: [Carol_Wheeler] General comment

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Examining translations is a lot of fun. I tend to think the same thing, that Spanish translations of English movies tend to be more on the polite side. I notice this a lot with movies like the American Pie series that magically "get cleaned up" in translation. I think "ch*ngada m*dre" would catch the mood of a forceful "shit!" better than "caramba," but, of course, you'll never see that in any subtitles!


BajaGringo


Jan 12, 2009, 9:45 PM

Post #16 of 16 (10371 views)

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When first learning Spanish (Castellano) years ago (not counting) as a 16 year old kid in Argentina I would focus so much on reading the Spanish sub-titles in the movies that I would even miss some of the on-screen action at times. It was a very important tool that helped me to become fluent in Spanish. Now I use that same tool to help my wife learn English as we buy DVD's in Spanish and I put on the English sub-titles. She has made a lot of process this route. Check out how many DVD's you have at home with Spanish sub-titles and you will discover what a great tool you have at your fingertips...


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