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mensamia


Jan 6, 2010, 2:40 PM

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total Spanish immersion course

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Has anyone attended the Cemanahuac language school or lived with one of the families in their country setting in Buenavista? Has anyone attended a language school and lived with a village family for the course? If so, please tell me your opinions, comments pro and con. I would like to learn Spanish fast, in say 2 weeks of total immersion. :) I only know 10 words at the moment... here comes one....
gracias

:)



ecollard

Jan 7, 2010, 7:08 AM

Post #2 of 11 (6729 views)

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Re: [mensamia] total Spanish immersion course

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I am considered pretty fluent in Spanish. It has taken me 50 years, starting when I was 14 and took Spanish I in junior high school, with 5-day a week classes and an hour of homework each night. I continued until I'd completed Spanish IV and then was a Spanish (and French) literature major in college. I felt I'd "learned" the language when I was 6 weeks into a 3-month immersion experience (living with a family and studying at the University) in Guanajuato. This was part of my college programs. At that point, I had a dream in spanish!!! It was a real aha and, to me, indicated that the language had taken root in my brain. I used my Spanish occasionally in my work in years following, cultivated Spanish-speaking friends (they have the best parties around!), and generally have made a conscious effort not to lose it. Now, I'm one of the most active members of Amigos del Lago, a bi-lingual/bi-cultural organization here at lakeside. That involvement has challenged me to learn to read scientific papers in Spanish--and yet there are many times when I don't understand what someone has said to me or when I misunderstand and, for instance, show up at 12 for a 2:00 appointment (or vice versa).
My suggestion is that you try the two-week program with the understanding that you'll probably want to do that many more times. Immersion, of course, is the best way to learn but it's a lot harder at "our" age than it would have been in our youth. Just knowing how to hear when one word ends and another begins takes a long time to figure out!!!
Best wishes. All you can do is get started and take it from there.
Eileen


raferguson


Jan 9, 2010, 7:18 PM

Post #3 of 11 (6685 views)

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Re: [mensamia] total Spanish immersion course

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"Learning a Language Fast" is an oxymoron. I think that it took me about 5 years to get to the point where I could carry on a casual social conversation without stress.

I would suggest that you plan to do more than just a two week course. Languages are a "use it or lose it" thing. Perhaps you could sign up for a class or tutor when you get back from the course.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


jerezano

Jan 10, 2010, 8:41 AM

Post #4 of 11 (6671 views)

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Re: [mensamia] total Spanish immersion course/ The best answer yet given for "Dreamers"

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Hello all,

Eileen Collard's answer here is absolutely the best yet given to those of us dreaming of learning Spanish in two weeks.

Yes, in a couple of weeks we can learn how to survive in Spanish, but nothing else.

Yes, complete immersion is absolutely the best method.

Yes, practice, practice, practice, practice is the only way to become fluent in Spanish.

Yes, to obtain a reasonable fluency where you can understand and tell jokes, to read poetry, to really understand the soap operas
on TV, to finally unserstand the machine gun fire of Sports reporters will take much, much time.

Yes, it is all worth while if you are going to live here in Mexico. Even if you are here for only a short time.

Yes, the education process is continuting. It never stops.

Yes, it is an interesting process.

Yes, yes, yes. by all means, start.

Yes, you get nowhere without starting.

What more can we say?

jerezano.


jerezano

Jan 10, 2010, 9:04 AM

Post #5 of 11 (6666 views)

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Re: [mensamia] total Spanish immersion course

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Hello Sheryl,

You asked:>>>Has anyone attended a language school and lived with a village family for the course? If so, please tell me your opinions, comments pro and con.<<<

A goodly number of us who use this forum have attended language schools and lived with a village family. I personally, in the 22 years I have been in Mexico have attended a school in San Miguel Allende twice, schools in Guadalajara twice, a school in Cuernavaca once, and a school in Mérida once. If I hadn't developed a hearing problem I would still be attending a school at least once yearly.

In all those schools except Guadalajara, I have always stayed with local families. In my opinion the only way to go. It is cheaper, more fun, and you learn at least twice as much.

Why should you attend a school at least yearly? To correct bad habits you are learning from daily contact with total immersion. Not all local people speak good Spanish. Strange but true. Sure everybody understands them, and will understand you too, even if the errors are obvious. But why not learn the correct ways and use them? So correcting those bad habits is worth while isn't it?

Two weeks is much better than nothing. One week is better than nothing. A day is better than nothing. But the longer the course, if it is a good course and not a catering to tourist sort of thing with cooking classes, dance classes, guitar classes, many tours, etc, the better off you will be.

Take that class, wherever it is. After taking that class and staying with that family you will now have a base to which to compare all other schools and you can be a bit more choosey with your annual follow-up classes. Or even with your private tutoring.

Good luck.

jerezano


La Isla


Jan 10, 2010, 11:41 AM

Post #6 of 11 (6652 views)

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Re: [jerezano] total Spanish immersion course

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In Reply To

Why should you attend a school at least yearly? To correct bad habits you are learning from daily contact with total immersion.
jerezano


If you are lucky, you have a couple of Mexican friends (or English-speaking friends who are fluent in Spanish) who will (gently) correct common mistakes you make when using Spanish. Otherwise you'll end up with lots of "fossilized" errors that will be difficult to shake even if you attend a yearly immersion class.


MaggieM

Jan 10, 2010, 1:05 PM

Post #7 of 11 (6646 views)

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Re: [mensamia] total Spanish immersion course

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Don't be discouraged about how long it takes to be fluent in Spanish, and do take an immersion course even if you just have a couple of weeks. I studied at the Spanish School Instituto Chac-Mool in Cuernavaca and I got a lot of out of my first two weeks there. I've followed up with two more weeks a year later, returning just this past December. Although you can't master the language, you can learn phrases and pronunciations which is going to help you as you increase your vocabulary by studying at home. Instituto Chac-Mool was a good choice for me because I consider myself somewhat of a slow learner (because I'm not a youngster anymore) and I don't learn well unless I can really visualize what I'm trying to learn. The professors at the school had a great way of focusing the course to my way of learning, that was explained on their website and it was actually true. I stayed with a lovely family right by the school and they were patient and kind to me as I butchered their language. I asked to stay with them again and they remembered me and my picky eating habits. Ask to stay with Ana and Arturo if you go to Instituto Chac-Mool.


Papirex


Jan 10, 2010, 2:09 PM

Post #8 of 11 (6638 views)

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Re: [La Isla] total Spanish immersion course

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It is indeed very helpful if you have a native Spanish speaker to occasionally correct the little errors that will creep into our Spanish pronunciation. Fortunately for me, my Mexicana wife sometimes will gently remind me of how a word is correctly pronounced in Spanish. I greatly appreciate her help.


My mistakes seem to creep in after I have been reading something in Spanish. I unconsciously start to pronounce the printed Spanish words as though they were printed in English. The syllable “Que” in Spanish is always pronounced as “kay”. If I have been reading, I start to unconsciously pronounce it mentally as the first syllable in the English word quiet.


When we were first married, her English was not great either. She asked me to help her correct her mistakes then, and she really appreciated it. Other people noticed the great improvement in her English speaking skills and many of them commented on it.


Since you teach Spanish, you no doubt have more knowledge about this than I do, but about 8 or 10 years ago my wife and I were visiting her aunts in Ajijic. We had lunch in an open air restaurant there and shared our table with two elderly American ladies. They were both retired professors of language.


One of them asked me if I spoke Spanish yet. I answered her that it was tough for me. She told me that was understandable, and she then told me that studies had shown (I don't know who made the studies) that when a child is first learning to talk, they must hear, and understand a word an average of 68 times before it becomes a part of their vocabulary.


She went on to explain that the part of the human brain that controls language is very receptive to learning a new language until the age of about 14. It then becomes increasingly harder for most people to learn another language.


She said that studies also showed that people “our age” (old guys) must hear and understand a new word an average of 185 times before it becomes a part of our vocabulary. I don't know, but that sounds about right to me. Of course we all learn some common words almost instantly, si, señor, bueno, mañana, etc. Anybody that hopes to learn a new language fluently in 2 weeks is just dreaming. Besides all the new words, there is the vocabulary, sentence structure, etc. etc. etc. to master.


There are exceptions of course. Whenever Pope John Paul II visited a new country and did not speak the language there, he learned that language before he made the trip. It took him an average of 3 months to learn a new language. He probably had help from his Boss.


Rex
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


La Isla


Jan 10, 2010, 3:12 PM

Post #9 of 11 (6628 views)

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Re: [Papirex] total Spanish immersion course

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I find a native-speaker friend can help out not only with pronunciation slips but also with sentence construction (I still occasionally have "dudas" about the use of the subjunctive and other complicated structures) and vocabulary choice (damn those false cognates!).

The comments you heard about how age affects language learning are right on target! When I have an older student who's having trouble, especially with listening comprehension and speaking, I always mention 14 years as a cutoff age for learning a second language without too much difficulty.

I would take the John Paul II anecdote with just a bit of salt. Since the late Pope was already fluent in several languages, picking up at least the basics of another one would be much less difficult than if he had been monolingual, but I have trouble believing he could grasp all the fine points of a new tongue and be able to use them like a native speaker in just 3 months, with or without the help of his celestial "boss"!


Papirex


Jan 10, 2010, 4:09 PM

Post #10 of 11 (6622 views)

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Re: [La Isla] total Spanish immersion course

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I do agree with you about Pope John Paul II. He did speak several languages to start with, that would make it easier to learn enough to speak passably in another language. Several years ago he had been on a trip, to the orient I believe, and his plane had a scheduled fuel stop in Anchorage when I was living there.


The local Bishop prevailed on him to make an appearance and to give a little talk. The event was held in “The Park Strip” a long narrow parkway near downtown Anchorage. His English was OK and understandable, but he did mispronounce several words.


The turnout was impressive, I think half the population of the state was there. Several of my non catholic, Christian co-workers told me they also went to hear him because they believed he was a great man. That is understandable for me. I am a Catholic, but I wouldn't miss a chance to hear someone like Billy Graham who I also consider to be a great man of God.


Anybody that does not believe that there is a God has my utmost sympathy and compassion, and may they rot in hell.


Rex
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


Peter


Jan 10, 2010, 7:35 PM

Post #11 of 11 (6605 views)

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Re: [Papirex] total Spanish immersion course

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Anybody that does not believe that there is a God has my utmost sympathy and compassion, and may they rot in hell.



Beautiful sentiment.
 
 
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