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juan david


Oct 19, 2005, 3:57 PM

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Learning Spanish

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We know so many people who make so little effort and who speak almost no Spanish. Life is so much better and richer when you can converse beyond arm waving and gesticulating. Is it just laziness? Is it fear of appearing stupid? I am a bit mistified that we gringos who insist that every imigrant who arrives in our (former) countries speak english can move to Mexico and ignore our former principles. It's a bit wierd to me. Anybody got any thoughts about this?
" let sleeping dogs lie"

(This post was edited by tonyburton on Oct 20, 2005, 3:32 PM)



johanson


Oct 19, 2005, 7:27 PM

Post #2 of 36 (10515 views)

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Re: [juan david] arning Spanish

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I can not understand it either. Juan. I remember seeing several Mexicans in Seattle who could speak almost no English when I was in H S. I remember what my friends and I said about these folks who could not speak our language. I never forgot our evil arrogant words. It was those words that motivated me to learn NL when stationed in the Netherlands and D when in Bayern. I did not want those folks from the Netherlands and Germany to think I was stupid because I only spoke one language. That was in the 60s. Today I am pretty bad at those two languages, although they would come back. Today I am working on Spanish.

I will never forget the youthful contempt we had for those who could not speak our language. It is that contempt I had that motivates me today to try to speak Spanish.

Do you have any idea what the youth or for that matter the intellectual think of those of us who speak almost no Spanish? Do you have any idea how much easier life gets when one speaks the language? I would also point out that now that I can speak Spanish, I pay a lot less for many things and services.

Sure the Mexicans will know you are a foreigner, but the fact that you speak their language will make them try that much harder to be friendly. You will have a much better time.



cristalhombre


Oct 20, 2005, 11:29 AM

Post #3 of 36 (10445 views)

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Re: [juan david] arning Spanish

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I AGREE!!!

here are my thoughts.............

Cuando aprendomos alto, nosotros morimos.

OK..... I think I said....... "When we stop learning, we die".

I am almost 50 and have been studying Spanish with significant effort for the past 8 months. I had no earlier foreign language training either in HS or college. I attend a private lesson 2X each week with my 13 year old daughter for 1 hour. In addition, I have joined a group here in the Vancouver area for gringos wanting to learn spanish. We meet every Tuesday night for dinner and conversation (solamente espanol) at all levels, in a restaurante de Mexico for 2 - 3 hours. I try to study one hour each day.

The first 5 months are challenging..........muy dificil. BUT then things start to "click" and I can now actually have a limited conversation with mi amigos, aqui.

It really and truly is FUN to learn! But then that is my attitude about life. I also know I will never be a fluent speaker of any foreign language, but I want the confidence to speak, be understood, listen and understand the basics of the language of the host country where I enjoy being a 'guest'.

I just can't imagine not wanting to converse with the people I will encounter in Mexico.

I believe learning is one of those "will" things. If you want to learn Spanish, you will. If you are closed minded, afraid or just lazy......your won't.

PLUS.....research is proving that "pushing the brain" to learn, as we age is beneficial for keeping dimentia at a distance.

I recall one of the hosts at a B & B in the village. Her attitude was...... I am the boss, I pay them (her Mexican employees), I have the power, therefore they can learn my language, English. Too bad for her. She is missing so much.

¡ buena serte apprender !

PS. all of you experts, feel free to correct my Spanish. that is how I learn!





"NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST...."


N2Futur

Oct 20, 2005, 2:25 PM

Post #4 of 36 (10422 views)

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Re: [johanson] arning Spanish

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Pete, there is nothing wrong with your German! We'll polish it off when we move SOB in 2 years. Most people don't even try to learn a different language. When I grew up in Germany, English was the MANDATORY second language to learn. In this day and age, my nephews have to chose a SECOND MANDATORY foreign language! I think that is great! (tho - they don't think so). All three can converse fluently in English, two speak French passably as well and the third one chose Latin - he's an A student and loves this old, dead language.....

I find that learning Spanish no es dificil at all. I spent a week each in February and September with Shoe and Silvia in Melaque and I learned a lot conversing with Silvia, who speaks very little English. Maybe because I speak German, it helps me to comprehend Spanish better. Shoe is always "armed" with his English/Spanish dictionary, when he sits at his beach palapa. I remember how frustrated he was a little over a year ago not being able learn Spanish much faster. It is astonishing how much Spanish he speaks and understands now, maybe not perfect, but he can make himself understood. I think if one immerses themself more and hangs around gringos a lot less, Spanish should come easy. Silvia's English has much improved as well. Shoe has the right approach: he buys books with stories both in English and Spanish. He reads out loud in Spanish to Silvia, she corrects his pronounciation and vice versa.

I'll be in Melaque for 2 weeks next month and I'll bet my vocabulary will double again this time. I also make it a point to try to talk Spanish to our Housekeeping crew at work NOB. Boy - where they suprised when I first tried it! And they are happy to correct me. And I made a bunch of new friends.....

I plan to be semi-fluent in Spanish within a year of moving SOB. Vern had a headstart, he had Spanish in college and it is slowly coming back.

My 2 pesos worth.....

Elke
___________________________
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to pick the one I never tried before." - Mae West

(This post was edited by N2Futur on Oct 20, 2005, 2:28 PM)


johanson


Oct 20, 2005, 3:37 PM

Post #5 of 36 (10400 views)

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Re: [N2Futur] arning Spanish

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Elke: Thank you for your kind words. Folks I never got better than a C when I studied 1st year Spanish in high school. When I went to college, I had to take first year Spanish again. And I am proud to say that I got nothing lower than a C, something I couldn't say in High School. Sadly I did not get any grade higher than a C either.

Folks, if I, a C student (at best) in languages, can learn first Dutch, then German, and now Spanish, you too can learn Spanish, if you want to.

Oh, and Elke, I hope that you and Vern will be coming to Ajijic again soon. we all miss you here.


Miguel Palomares


Oct 21, 2005, 8:42 AM

Post #6 of 36 (10343 views)

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Re: [juan david] Learning Spanish

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The majority of Gringos move to either the Chapala area or San Miguel in large part specifically to avoid the need to speak Spanish. Hey, they are retired. They want to kick back and relax. And, actually, I can understand that.
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/


johanson


Oct 21, 2005, 1:41 PM

Post #7 of 36 (10301 views)

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Re: [Miguel Palomares] Learning Spanish

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What can I say. I have friends who play bridge 5 hours per day every afternoon with fellow English speakers, only go to parties thrown by fellow Americans and who only watch American TV. And if they are happy, great. But that is not me. Gosh, with Spanish, life is so much easier, and the prices seem to come down.

But if people want to come down here, and pretend like they are still in America, more power to them, it's just that they are missing so much.


Kip


Oct 21, 2005, 2:20 PM

Post #8 of 36 (10291 views)

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Re: [johanson] Learning Spanish

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I think it's a very personal thing. My Mom lived with us until we lost her a few years ago. I thought she was missing out on so much and would try to get her to go to this function or that one. She was happiest sitting in her recliner with a view of the contryside, watching the soaps, crocheting afagans, surrounded by little doggies and her favorite snacks, or on her deck in her swing. (still with crochet, snacks and doggies) I think everyone has to choose their own paradise.
kip


1ajijic


Oct 21, 2005, 4:54 PM

Post #9 of 36 (10270 views)

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Re: [johanson] Learning Spanish

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We went out to the rasberry fields and my husband got in line to be told like everyone else that there were none of the ripe / inexpensive berries available. A few compliments later in Spanish and here he comes with six liters of berries. You can get more with honey etc.
http://www.newbeginningsmexico.com


Georgia


Oct 22, 2005, 8:49 AM

Post #10 of 36 (10224 views)

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Re: [1ajijic] Learning Spanish

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It does make a positive difference when gringos both to speak Spanish here in Mexico. You never know what effect it has. Happily, the other day, when I took my dog to the vet, he ended the visit by thanking me for speaking Spanish with him. I was very moved by that because I am never sure, when speaking with a bilingual Mexican, if they consider my accented Spanish an insult to their intelligence when they could speak English better than my Spanish.


MariaLund

Oct 22, 2005, 4:13 PM

Post #11 of 36 (10185 views)

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Re: [Miguel Palomares] Learning Spanish

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Spanish is a difficult language for native English speakers, and Americans especially are so isolated within English, it must be pretty tough to try to learn - and even tougher to try to speak Spanish - and sound funny at best.

The grammar is different, the pronunciation is different, the entire logic of the language is different. It is so much easier for us, continental Europeans to learn Spanish -- and it would be more difficult for us to learn English, if we weren't so exposed to it, particularly in those smaller European countries when all the movies and TV programs are played in the original language only with Swedish, Danish, Dutch - etc. etc.- subtitles. Thus an average, even retired Europe speaks at least basic English. It is tougher for Spaniards, Germans, etc. because their TV translates every word of a foreign program to their native languages, and the result is that uneducated Spaniards, Germans etc. do not speak English as well as Europeans from smaller countries. Those who have at least a high school education do better, because of compulsory foreign languages in high schools and in colleges. Yet many North-European retires behave in Spain, France Italy, Greece just as Americans behave in Mexico: they settle among other expats and speak English, German, Swedish, Danish, but not Spanish or Italian - or God forbid - Greek (that 'awful' alphabet!).

In contrast to Americans, who usually speak only American, Europeans may speak a few languages, but they are NORTHERN-European languages. Not the languages of their poorer - and usually looked down upon - save for the climate, food and fun - Mediterranean host countries.
So what do you expect from poor average Americans, who have not been exposed to ANY foreign language?
Do you want them to be more civilized than average Europeans??? Get real! ;-)))
Vivere non est necesse, navigare necesse est!


johanson


Oct 22, 2005, 6:30 PM

Post #12 of 36 (10163 views)

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Re: [MariaLund] Learning Spanish

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Maria,, you explained why you believed many Americans never learned another language and then. "So what do you expect from poor average Americans, who have not been exposed to ANY foreign language?"

I expect many of them to believe that they can not learn another language, and therefore they don't, be they rich or poor. Be they old or young

We Americans want to believe that learning another language is too difficult. We Americans want to believe that someone else is stupid or poorly educated if they can not speak our language, even when we are here in Mexico or in Lund or Malmo.

It is not difficult folks. As I said before, I got good grades in science, and poor grades in English and languages. And if I can learn 4 languages, you should be able to learn a second one.

My Spanish is not perfect, not even close, but sadly It's much better than the vast majority of my fellow Americans, and I am ashamed of that fact.


(This post was edited by johanson on Oct 22, 2005, 6:31 PM)


Bloviator

Oct 23, 2005, 5:19 AM

Post #13 of 36 (10143 views)

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Re: [juan david] Learning Spanish

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I'm the poster child for the difficulty of learning Spanish when one is approaching senility. Though I did study Spanish 50 years ago in high school and college, I really know little of it. However, I really am trying to learn the language, studying everyday through books and computers and even trying to follow the really really boring tapes when I drive. I also take every opportunity to speak Spanish to the Mexicans I encounter. Haros and the neighboring Viveros del Lago (?) people speak excellent English. I go to them because they have an attitude of service that is often missing in other similar establishments and because when my Spanish fails, they bail me out. They understand that, though their English is much better than my Spanish, I want to practice on them and they indulge me. The same happens many other places. I also listen faithfully to Spanish language radio. At first, I was lucky to pick up a word, now I can sometimes even understand some of what they are saying.

The other day my stumbling attempts to master the language paid off big time. I had to go to Guad to have an impacted wisdom tooth extracted. I was told the oral surgeon spoke English. Not the case. with his small amount of English and my meager Spanish we communicated well, even to the point of me telling him in Spanish that I needed a lot more numbing of my jaw before he cut into me. After he was finished, he gave me a whole page set of instructions of what to do for post operative care. It was in Spanish. I think I was able to translate it and follow the directions.

I really don't think that one can function independently even in this community without at least some Spanish. There are too many unexpected events that require interaction with others who don't speak English - unless one spends 24/7 around only other monolingual English speakers.


Miguel Palomares


Oct 23, 2005, 5:45 AM

Post #14 of 36 (10142 views)

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Re: [johanson] Learning Spanish

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Pete, bless your heart, you are not typical. Some people obviously have a knack for language. You done got it. So don't go pretending that you are just an average Joe, or Pete.

Regarding MariaLund up above, I think she is right on about every count. However, it is not as hard for us Gringos to learn Spanish as it would be to learn many other languages. Spanish is a cakewalk as far as the pronunciation is concerned. It is very predictable. Letters of the Spanish alphabet generally can be pronounced in only one way. The English alphabet flies all over the sky. You simply have to memorize the pronunciation of many English words. It is far more difficult for a Mexican to learn English than for a Gringo to learn Spanish.

It is, of course, easier just to play bridge.
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/


johanson


Oct 23, 2005, 7:32 AM

Post #15 of 36 (10123 views)

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Re: [Miguel Palomares] Learning Spanish

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I chose Spanish to study in H S because it was supposed to be by far the easiest language for an American to learn. that's what all the teachers said, and I still believe it. I had trouble learning it because I wasn't motivated.

Now that I am motivated and much older, the memory isn't working as well, but I can still learn.

You say I am not typical, and sadly I see that to be true. But I promise you all. Spend an hour or so a day trying to pick up the language and you will. It may take a few years that way, but you will get there.


Georgia


Oct 23, 2005, 7:51 AM

Post #16 of 36 (10111 views)

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Re: [johanson] Learning Spanish: a tip

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In line with what Palomares said, about pronunciation: yup, the pronunciation is relatively easy - learn the sounds of each letter. That's easy to do. That is step One.

Step Two: Label your house. (Okay, so don't invite people to dinner for a while if it bothers you that it looks odd.) Use red for verbs, blue for nouns. Get a friend who is competent in both your native language and spanish to help you with this. Cooking, chopping, dishwashing labels in kitchen, reading, watching tv, chatting, etc. verbs in living room, brushing teeth, bathing, putting on makeup, whatever, in bathroom .... you get the idea. Label things. Use photos. Tack 'em up. Label them.

Step Three: Contrary to what your high school language teacher told you, DO NOT WORRY AT THIS STEP ABOUT CORRECT GRAMMAR. Just learn the subject pronouns(I, you, he, she, we, they), stick them in before those verbs (do not try to conjugate those verbs at first), and learn the words for yesterday, today, tomorrow, next week, etc. Stick those words in somewhere near the verb.

You'll end up saying things like this:

Yo ir Guadalajara manana. Or: Manana yo ir Guadalajara. (I go Guadalajara tomorrow.)

Elegant? No. Communication? Yes.

Now, you're all labeled up and ready to go: use this stuff out loud to communicate to your maid, friends, shopkeepers, whoever. Just do it, as they say. You really do learn from your errors where language is concerned.

Step Four: Expand your vocabulary to different topics. There are excellent books for learning Spanish that do this: weather, health, tools, cars, etc vocabulary are grouped with illustrations.

Step Five: Refine your Spanish after you get the hang of this elementary form of communication. After a few months of sincere effort, you will be ready to tackle those verbs, add in more sophisticated structure, etc.

But you can't understand the locals? Magic words: Mas despacio, por favor. Your efforts will reward you with free lessons from the Mexicans you speak with ... and a lot of smiles at your desire to speak their language.

By the way, I used to teach Spanish to corporate employees and their families who were going to live and work in South America. I would go into their homes and teach them, mess up their houses with labels, explain cross cultural issues, etc. If you want to learn, this is a great way to start and it works. Honest.


MariaLund

Oct 23, 2005, 8:43 AM

Post #17 of 36 (10100 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Learning Spanish: a tip

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This is an excellent advice to break a linguistic barrier! Label, take small chunks of knowledge every day..

I'd say an hour for someone who forgot how to learn is too much to start - 15 minutes a day EVERY day for the first month or so will do wonders, too. Then you may progress to half an hour, then to an hour, if you are as ambitious as Johansson. :-).

And Georgias right again: forget perfectionism. So what if what you say sounds more like "canto queso" (I sing cheese) instead of "cuanto cuesta" (how much is it)? 999 times out of a 1000 they will understand you. Just like you guys understand my English :-)))
Vivere non est necesse, navigare necesse est!


jimindetroit

Oct 29, 2005, 12:52 PM

Post #18 of 36 (9941 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Learning Spanish: a tip

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Thanks for the tips, Georgia. Here, in the north country, I'm still plugging along with Spanish at night school once a week, CDs in the car, books and
TV stations in Spanish out of Miami on satellite. Without those stations, I'd still be waiting to see the hurricane damage in Cancun and surrounds. Now I'll get to work putting a label on my perro.


Georgia


Oct 29, 2005, 1:05 PM

Post #19 of 36 (9938 views)

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Re: [jimindetroit] Learning Spanish: a tip

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Warning: Perro may eat label - at least mine would!


Bubba

Oct 29, 2005, 1:36 PM

Post #20 of 36 (9932 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Learning Spanish: a tip

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I totally disagree about not learning the grammar and not conjugating the verbs, it becomes a difficult habit to break later on. It is just as easy or as difficult to learn a language correctly and it is a mistake to learn how to say things incorrectly.
Learning a language is not easy and it requires daily work. Going to a class or studying for an hour and going back to speaking or listening nothing but English does not work.
By the way Spanish is not easy. Everyone says don't worry Spanish is easy you will pick it up easily". The grammar is very similar the French, Italian or Portugese grammar and I do not find it particularly easy.


Georgia


Oct 29, 2005, 1:48 PM

Post #21 of 36 (9927 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Learning Spanish: a tip

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I do not suggest that one permanently resort to speaking in this way: only that one start this way to get on the bandwagon, so to speak. Usually, people learn to speak a language in this order: listening, speaking, reading and writing. If you throw adherence to grammar early on in the mix, it impedes the learning curve. Once a new language learner begins to "hear' the language and has sufficient new vocabulary to actually have something to say, then it is time to progress on to refining the process through learning grammar.

You have to start somewhere. Most people don't start a language by speaking it correctly. It is a process.

That being said, if you already speak a Romance language, then the process would be different. Grammar rules make more sense at the onset of study if you already speak Italian or Portuguese, or another Romance language.


esperanza

Oct 29, 2005, 3:38 PM

Post #22 of 36 (9920 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Learning Spanish: a tip

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Grammar rules make more sense if you know grammar at the time you start learning a new language--if we are talking about learning a second language as an adult. When I taught Spanish to adult learners, the ones who remembered their English grammar understood verb tenses and when they're used, the differences between direct and indirect objects, the uses of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, and so forth, much more readily than those who said they'd stopped thinking about grammar after 8th grade. For example, in Spanish, nouns and adjectives agree with one another in gender and number. If you know what that means in English, the lightbulb is already on for you to understand it in Spanish. If you don't remember what that means, you'll have to learn English grammar as you learn Spanish. Painful.

Georgia is absolutely right in the order of learning. A 10-month-old baby can understand, "Bring me a diaper, sweetheart," and will go get one. But that same baby can't bring it back and say, "Here's the diaper you asked for, Mom." It's the same with adult learners. Most can understand a good bit of Spanish before being able to say much more than buenos días.

IMHO, the key to learning to speak Spanish is letting go of the fear of sounding like an idiot. Most of us, articulate in our first language, hate to make fools of ourselves in Spanish. The trick is to go right ahead and make a fool of yourself. You'll learn Spanish by your trial and error mistakes, and learn to take yourself less seriously at the same time.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Bubba

Oct 29, 2005, 5:30 PM

Post #23 of 36 (9913 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Learning Spanish: a tip

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Yes I agree that the order of the process is correct and that the passive language is the first one learned in your own language, Everone,in any language, kows and understand more vocabulary than they use.
I have a Peruvian friend who spoke nothing but Spanish to her first 3 children but let them respond in English, she found out 10 years later that the first three children could not speak Spanish and had to take clases to learn how to speak it despite the fact that they understood it perfectly. Later on, when more children came they were forced to respond in Spanish and ar totally bilingual.
On the subject of making mistakes, everyone should know that most people speaking a foreign language make mistakes
and almost all people who learned a language after the age of 11 or 12 will have a foreign accent. So everyone should relax about making mistakes or sounding foreign.
I only met one man who learned French and German at school and could speak both language like a native. He could even speak with different regional accents and fool native speakers. By the way he was American.....
On the subject of grammar , I was trained to study our own grammar for several years, and it sure helped me when I had to learn other languages even if they were not romance languages.


Biggles

Oct 31, 2005, 7:46 AM

Post #24 of 36 (9842 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Learning Spanish: a tip

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"IMHO, the key to learning to speak Spanish is letting go of the fear of sounding like an idiot. Most of us, articulate in our first language, hate to make fools of ourselves in Spanish. The trick is to go right ahead and make a fool of yourself. You'll learn Spanish by your trial and error mistakes, and learn to take yourself less seriously at the same time." Bless you, Esperanza, that's exactly what it is. It took a while, and the coaching of a very understanding friend, but now I'll speak to anyone, at anytime, with no hesitation even though I know that I (sorry) suck. Guess what? It doesn't matter! People have been so kind and helpful every time I try to communicate. One other bit of advice: don't try to translate it first. Just speak. It doesn't matter if you sound like a child, just speak and it will get easier over time. Cheri



quevedo

Oct 31, 2005, 5:16 PM

Post #25 of 36 (9794 views)

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Re: [cristalhombre] Aprendiendo español

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When we stop learning, we die. Cuando dejamos de aprender, morimos.

Un saludo cordial,

Quevedo
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