Mar 16, 2003, 10:25 AM
Post #6 of 9
I agree with you.
Re: [jturpen] Experiences Learning Spanish
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If you are wanting to truly become fluent, then immersion, a serious relationship with a speaker of the language, and/or no English speakers in your community are very important. Twice weekly 1 to 1.5 hour lessons will get you started, but you won't become "at ease" with the language.
Before moving to Mexico permanently, I undertook a 6 week immersion program offered during the summer at the University of Regina Language program.
By the end I was pretty comfortable with the extent of what I had learned - formal structures, a beginning of that "brain washing" that immersion is so good for, and the beginnings of not translating everything into English in order to understand.
Highly recommended approach.
Warning for those over 30.
1. As this was a double credit summer program, 95% of the students were 22 or under. (guess who the 5% was.) This can really test your self image as these kids were learning at a fast clip, partying every night, and were bright and cheerful the next morning - well usually) Me? I went home and did my 4 hours of homework and was exhausted the next morning. But I certainly remembered how to learn!
2. Potential for brain damage. At my age (then 47) it had been a while since I had to learn so much, and so much rote stuff (conjugations, exceptions etc.) About 3 weeks into the program my brain began to rebel and I went through a real confusion period. Nothing made sense for a while. - High potential to drop out at this point. BUT, this is a necessary phase as it is during this that you are beginning to let go your resistance and to move towards integration of the very different ways of this gorgeous language.
3. Learn to forget "Why?", As an adult there is a real temptation to try to equate spanish words and structures to what you already know - mental mapping I think it is called. Forget it. First it really retards you becoming comfortable with not having to translate. And 2, it doesn't work! "Because" is a frequent response to that deadly question.
After having said all the above, just taking the immersion is not enough. You must, at every opportunity, practice, practice, practice. Insist on speaking Spanish. Ask for help, ask for feedback. Be willing to be the source of great humour. My most embarrassing moment was in a restaurant, asking for half a bollio (una mitad) by saying una metida - and no, you won't find the street meaning of that in the dictionary, and be careful who you ask! The entire restaurant went silent and then burst into uproarious laughter. Benefit to me? I won't make that mistake again and I learned an expression that I would never have learned in a class.
I strongly recommend that you go through a series of heavy duty small group classes at a level that challenges you. By series I mean for 6 months every two years. You will lose what you know - grammatically and structurally, if you don't.
Listen to Mexican radio. Watch Mexican TV. Male news announcers are easier to follow than female news anchors - who speak so quickly! Go to the movies that are not dubbed or subtitled - twice! Once for the concentrated effort to understand and once to enjoy the whole thing.
Whatever you do, enjoy doing it and you will be surprised at how much and how quickly you pick things up.
Am I fluent? Nope. I work all day in English. Besides I have accepted the fact that unless I had been raised in the language and culture, I will never really be 100% confident and have full understanding. But it certainly is fun to keep trying to get there!