Feb 19, 2005, 5:03 PM
Post #2 of 4
I have never had the luxury of a month or more in Mexico studying
Spanish, but I have learned to speak it pretty well. I can carry
on telephone conversations no problem, etc. I know that some
people who have done the immersion thing don't learn that much,
although it can be effective.
I used a wide range of techniques to improve my Spanish, including
travel in Mexico, listening to the radio, watching television,
reading magazines and newspapers, taking evening classes, and
having a tutor. The most effective way to learn, in my experience,
is also the most expensive; hire a tutor for an hour a week.
I usually have paid $15 or $20 per hour for a college student
from a spanish-speaking country. I find one by calling the
Spanish department of the local university, as they keep a list
of students who want to make extra money tutoring. You will
usually be mentally exhausted at the end of the hour, but
you will have learned. You can't hide in the back row when
you are the only student, you will have to speak, and your
tutor will clean up your worst pronunciations and gramatical
errors in short order.
I suggest starting with a night class or two, and then hiring
a tutor. You will learn. It may take a few years to
learn enough to speak well, but you will be speaking enough to
get by in less than a year. It's practice, practice, practice,
unless you are gifted in languages, which I am not. I started
learning Spanish at age 30.
Some of the habits that I use to improve and retain foreign languages include: I read a little from a Spanish and French paper every morning on the internet. My CD changer always has two CDs in Spanish, two in French, and two in English. My car radio has local Spanish stations programmed into some of the buttons. I watch Spanish and French TV. It all helps.
I started learning French after age 45, and successfully used
the same strategies that I used to learn Spanish. Of course,
there are fewer opportunities to use French than Spanish in
the USA, and France is so far away and so expensive that I
have only been there once. Not surprisingly, my French is not
nearly as good as my Spanish, but is adequate for asking for
directions, understanding the answer, etc.