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FireBreathingChicken
February 28th, 2008, 04:59 PM
Okay, geeks and geekettes. I am a geek who wants to learn Spanish. What are people's experiences with different methods to learn a language and what worked and what didn't?

GalaxyRanger
February 28th, 2008, 05:20 PM
Okay, geeks and geekettes. I am a geek who wants to learn Spanish. What are people's experiences with different methods to learn a language and what worked and what didn't?

Immersion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_immersion)is a cool thing.

What I did in middle school to improve my English was to just read every book that I wanted to read in English, watch every movie in English, set the language in all my computer games to English and I remember that the first English book I read (Patriot Games by Tom Clancy), it was really hard because, well, stuff that's written for native speakers is different from what they present to you in the classroom, so what would happen was that I just wouldn't know half the words and I'd just infer their meaning and most of the idioms were lost on me, so I'd either just guess or I looked them up and hey, I kept on reading and it got easier with every new book I started. Okay, granted I had some previous knowledge about English from visiting my family in NY and from school, of course, but actually not that much, mostly basic conversational skills, certainly not enough to read a book written for adult native speakers. So I would recommend reading a lot, watching movies in your target language, talk to native speakers. Try to sourround yourself as much as you can with the language you wanna pick up. Listen to Spanish music, etc.

Lady D
February 28th, 2008, 10:59 PM
okay, sounds stupid and could possibly be considered an alternative to waterboarding: pick a couple of novelas (Spanish-language soap operas) and watch them religiously. You will get used to the different characters' speech patterns, and you'll understand quite a lot of what's going on from context. Some novelas have English language closed captioning available on one of the alternate feeds (or whatever you call them), but I usually watch with the CC on in Spanish so I can see what they're saying while they say it.

Others suggest watching the news or comedy shows, but I find these to be less effective for beginners. There is more specialized vocabulary and economy of language in newscasts, and comedy uses too many plays on words and sometimes just doesn't make sense outside of the cultural context.

FireBreathingChicken
February 29th, 2008, 07:27 AM
Well, I am at the El gato es grande stage of Spanish. When I watch something in Spanish I get nothing. I need to get enough to start being able to follow even a bit.

GalaxyRanger
February 29th, 2008, 07:39 AM
Well, I am at the El gato es grande stage of Spanish. When I watch something in Spanish I get nothing. I need to get enough to start being able to follow even a bit.

This is not a joke: try Spanish children's books. Or maybe audio tapes for children. Seriously, any stuff created for children or beginning readers in your target language is cool for you, because it's got the language level you're looking for: short, easy sentences, a small vocabulary etc.
And it shouldn't take long until you can progress to more complicated stuff. Is this the first foreign language you're learning? My high school made us learn Latin before we started learning English and even though I detested Latin, it was the biggest help I could get for learning English and French. The same would be true for any other of the romance languages.

Solai
February 29th, 2008, 08:26 AM
There are a lot of great free podcasts out there for just this purpose!

Archtaku
February 29th, 2008, 08:35 AM
Once you get a halfway decent vocabulary, I would say the best thing to do would be to practice conversation as much as possible. I had studied for years, and always felt uneasy in conversational situations until I took two semesters of Conversational Spanish.

Point being, using the language often is one of the best ways of helping yourself to become fluent.

Tesseract
March 1st, 2008, 12:35 PM
There are a lot of great free podcasts out there for just this purpose!

I was about to recommend the same thing :)

I took 12 units of Spanish in college as an elective, but what got me semi-fluent was that my teacher was also my neighbor. She would always talk to me in Spanish, and I'd have to respond (there's also some fear factor involved as she's friends with my mom - I didn't want my mom to think I was a mess at my foreign language class!). I guess a mix of classroom/traditional foreign language studies (ie class, podcast, grammar books) and immersion would be good.

GalaxyRanger: you learned Latin! How cool is that! It might be a 'dead' language, but it's the base language for the Romantic languages. No wonder you didn't have a hard time understanding French. :)

GalaxyRanger
March 1st, 2008, 01:04 PM
GalaxyRanger: you learned Latin! How cool is that! It might be a 'dead' language, but it's the base language for the Romantic languages. No wonder you didn't have a hard time understanding French. :)

Omnia Gallia divisa est in partes tres etc.

yeah, seven looooong years of Latin...

but the actual language geek is my sister, though, she learned Latin and English and is currently taking Ancient Greek and Italian classes...

yeah, so, I can only recommend taking up as many languages as you can while you're still young enough because it gets so much harder when you're out of your teens, that part of the brain just slows down. I tried to learn some Russian for my MA thesis on US-Soviet relations, but gave up on it rather quickly.

Armando
March 1st, 2008, 04:07 PM
Okay, geeks and geekettes. I am a geek who wants to learn Spanish. What are people's experiences with different methods to learn a language and what worked and what didn't?

Well, I learned Spanish the easy way: I was born in a Spanish speaking country to a Spanish-speaking family. I recommend doing that. :D

If that doesn't work, full immersion usually does. That's how I learned English. I was lucky enough to have been in the top 30 or so students in my class at school, back when elementary schools were still divided into class rooms based on grades and skills, and was therefore placed in an English only, full immersion program. Within a month my classmates and I were fluent (of course, I also stopped thinking in Spanish then, totally anglicizing me in the process).

I picked up French in graduate school as I was required to take two languages (one of which, Spanish, I passed out of the requirement with) for my doctorate. I took a year and picked up quite a bit, but since I haven't had any practice since 2000 I've more or less lost all but the most basic elements of it.

Which just goes to illustrate the importance of as full immersion in the language and culture as possible. Find people with whom you can practice the language all of the time. That's the best way to learn it, I think.

Oh, and read a lot in it as well.

Armando
March 1st, 2008, 04:09 PM
Well, I am at the El gato es grande stage of Spanish. When I watch something in Spanish I get nothing. I need to get enough to start being able to follow even a bit.

Just remember, "hermano," means brother. It's not some guy's name your brother's girlfriend, on whom you secretly have a crush, is sleeping around with.

:D

FireBreathingChicken
March 1st, 2008, 05:45 PM
Just remember, "hermano," means brother. It's not some guy's name your brother's girlfriend, on whom you secretly have a crush, is sleeping around with.

Does that come up a lot?

Armando
March 1st, 2008, 11:37 PM
Does that come up a lot?

Only if you live in Orange County, CA and your last name is Bluth. ;)

(Sorry, I was watching a very specific episode of Arrested Development right before I read this thread earlier today.)

Tesseract
March 5th, 2008, 09:12 PM
Well, I learned Spanish the easy way: I was born in a Spanish speaking country to a Spanish-speaking family. I recommend doing that. :D


...Or be in a country with Spanish colonial roots. Most of our nouns are in Spanish still. :)

Nsan
March 10th, 2008, 10:59 PM
When I was taking spanish I watched telenovellas every day. It also helps to work with spanish speakers. I worked with 2 ladies from Mexico, and it really helped me with my pronunciation. I spoke with a Mexican accent. I would get compliments on it!

Audra
March 14th, 2008, 12:53 AM
I think that practicing talking with Spanish speakers is the best way to go, especially if they are patient and willing to correct you and help you. Once on a super-fast train from Madrid to Seville, I spent the entire trip talking with a nice Spanish lady. My Spanish is not great but okay, and I have to circumlocute a lot, but I felt like I got better at it iin that one day because the lady corrected me gently and worked with me if she could tell I didn't fully understand.

My second choice would be reading Spanish literature - children's books are a great idea. Watching Spanish tv shows would be great if you already have some background, but it's pretty hard if you're first starting out (although more is always better. The more you listen the more it'll become part of your memory).

I would recommend watching tv shows or movies on DVD that you know pretty well, and switch the audio to Spanish. The Futurama DVDs have good Spanish audio, and if you know the stories and already have a sense of what's happening, it'll help you fill in the gaps. (Plus with animation there's very little problem with synching up the lips) ;)

While talking and listening are the best ways to learn, you could also add a little individual study. Get a book like "501 Spanish Verbs" and learn the irregular ones first, like "to go" and "to be." Make lists of nouns that relate to a certain area, and say them out loud to yourself. Better yet, get one of those podcasts and repeat after the person so you can practice saying the letters the Spanish way.

It's true that the parts of the brain responsible for learning language are most active when we're kids. But adults have the advantage of determination and self-discipline and many adults learn languages all the time. You'll be awesome! Good luck!

Yorick
March 14th, 2008, 01:09 AM
Okay, geeks and geekettes. I am a geek who wants to learn Spanish. What are people's experiences with different methods to learn a language and what worked and what didn't?

DVDs are always a great option if you can set the audio track and the subtitles in Spanish.

Dating a Spanish-speaking person would also work quite well :)

Lucky
March 14th, 2008, 05:25 PM
Immersion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_immersion)is a cool thing.

Definitely. I have tried to learn Spanish, Farsi, german, and Dari, but I had the most success with Albanian, mostly from living in Kosovo for a year back in ’99. I didn’t have any kind of dictionary or formal lessons, but I picked up a huge amount of the language just from interacting with people. Even now I still remember quite a bit of it. I also picked up some Deutsch through immersion, but a lot of the Germans I interacted with also spoke English.

Archtaku
March 20th, 2008, 09:42 AM
I think that practicing talking with Spanish speakers is the best way to go, especially if they are patient and willing to correct you and help you. Once on a super-fast train from Madrid to Seville, I spent the entire trip talking with a nice Spanish lady. My Spanish is not great but okay, and I have to circumlocute a lot, but I felt like I got better at it iin that one day because the lady corrected me gently and worked with me if she could tell I didn't fully understand.

My second choice would be reading Spanish literature - children's books are a great idea. Watching Spanish tv shows would be great if you already have some background, but it's pretty hard if you're first starting out (although more is always better. The more you listen the more it'll become part of your memory).

I would recommend watching tv shows or movies on DVD that you know pretty well, and switch the audio to Spanish. The Futurama DVDs have good Spanish audio, and if you know the stories and already have a sense of what's happening, it'll help you fill in the gaps. (Plus with animation there's very little problem with synching up the lips) ;)

While talking and listening are the best ways to learn, you could also add a little individual study. Get a book like "501 Spanish Verbs" and learn the irregular ones first, like "to go" and "to be." Make lists of nouns that relate to a certain area, and say them out loud to yourself. Better yet, get one of those podcasts and repeat after the person so you can practice saying the letters the Spanish way.

It's true that the parts of the brain responsible for learning language are most active when we're kids. But adults have the advantage of determination and self-discipline and many adults learn languages all the time. You'll be awesome! Good luck!

Wow Audra, if I had someone like you motivating me then I'd probably speak half a dozen languages by now, instead of only two.

Archtaku
March 23rd, 2008, 04:37 AM
This thread has really been inspirational. I have decided to subscribe to a podcast that (I hope) will teach me German.

GalaxyRanger
March 23rd, 2008, 05:36 AM
This thread has really been inspirational. I have decided to subscribe to a podcast that (I hope) will teach me German.

Let me know if you need help. :)

Mavourneen
March 23rd, 2008, 03:36 PM
I'd highly recommend enlisting the help of a co-worker, friend, etc who is fluent in Spanish. Have that person only speak to you in Spanish.

I've learned several languages this way.
( And the Spanish tv thing. Sabado Gigante is awesome! )

FireBreathingChicken
March 23rd, 2008, 03:44 PM
I'd highly recommend enlisting the help of a co-worker, friend, etc who is fluent in Spanish. Have that person only speak to you in Spanish.

I've learned several languages this way.
( And the Spanish tv thing. Sabado Gigante is awesome! )

Having a coworker who is fluent in Spanish is one of he reasons I am try to learn!

Archtaku
March 23rd, 2008, 07:13 PM
Let me know if you need help. :)
I sure will! I also have a friend in Leipzig who studied in the US for a while. I talk to her often online, so I'll have lots of chances to practice.

I've only made it through 3 lessons so far, so I have quite a bit of practicing to do before I can start practicing conversation. I will definitely let you know when that time comes, though. :)

GalaxyRanger
March 24th, 2008, 04:37 AM
Leipzig

A native Leipziger? :)
Every year they do a survey and people always say that the Saxion accent is the worst to listen to while they all like the Bavarian accent best. But I guess you're not worrying about accents right now.

Have you found deutsch-lernen.com (http://www.deutsch-lernen.com)yet? The "Deutschkurs für Anfänger" should be perfect for you at this level.

Archtaku
March 24th, 2008, 08:48 AM
I'm not sure where in Germany she is from, she moved there to go to university.

I hadn't found that link, thanks a lot for the recommendation. I have also ordered a copy of Barron's "501 German Verbs". I have the Spanish version and it helped me a lot when I was learning Spanish.

This will be my first attempt at teaching myself a language, I'm excited!

Eftiel
March 24th, 2008, 01:58 PM
Be careful listening to language tapes/podcasts while driving. I tried to use a 30 min commute to learn German. The repetitiveness of repeating phrases out loud can be kind of hypnotic and sleep inducing... Especially since language tapes often feature very calm, soothing voices. :)

Archtaku
March 24th, 2008, 02:02 PM
Luckily for myself, my commute is on a train. :)

GalaxyRanger
March 24th, 2008, 02:07 PM
very calm, soothing voices. :)

voice porn? :D

Pike
March 24th, 2008, 04:03 PM
voice porn? :D

Well, that would be better than "my pencil is yellow."

GalaxyRanger
March 24th, 2008, 06:31 PM
Well, that would be better than "my pencil is yellow."

that is some strong suggestive imagery, though.

Pike
March 24th, 2008, 06:39 PM
that is some strong suggestive imagery, though.

Heh.

"When correctly viewed / Everything is lewd."
--Tom Leher

GalaxyRanger
March 27th, 2008, 05:06 AM
This will be my first attempt at teaching myself a language, I'm excited!

This is an attempt at shameless self-promotion (;)), but you're welcome to try out your newly-aquired language skills by taking a look at the website (http://www.sommerperlen.de.tl/) for the novel I wrote.
You'll need to click the button to progress to the main site where you can find sneak peeks, a picture of my with a cowboy hat and you're always welcome to leave a quick note in the Gästebuch :-)

Archtaku
March 27th, 2008, 07:40 AM
This is an attempt at shameless self-promotion (;)), but you're welcome to try out your newly-aquired language skills by taking a look at the website (http://www.sommerperlen.de.tl/) for the novel I wrote.
You'll need to click the button to progress to the main site where you can find sneak peeks, a picture of my with a cowboy hat and you're always welcome to leave a quick note in the Gästebuch :-)

Hahaha, sweet cowboy hat!

I've bookmarked that site, though it's a little over my head right now. I'm still at the "Guten Tag, Mien Name ist Erik. Wie heisst Du?" stage. I do, however, have my fiancee on board, she'd like to learn more German as well since a lot of her ancestors are German or Austrian. So, we'll be teaching each other. :)

Locke
March 29th, 2008, 02:06 AM
This thread is great! Reading through it I've gotten some ideas of where to go to start on some of the languages I've wanted to learn, although I wonder if anybody had some more ideas for languages that aren't quite as prevalent, especially locally. In particular I've been alternately considering Latin and/or Japanese.

Any additional tips for those languages would be greatly appreciated, in the meantime I'm gonna go look at them in some more detail =)

Archtaku
March 29th, 2008, 03:19 AM
Japanese is easier to learn to speak than other languages, because the verbs aren't conjugated and the subject of the sentence is derived from context. However, this aspect of the langauge can make it harder to understand what someone says.

If you're gonna seriously try to learn Japanese, I would get a bunch of index cards and a Kanji book, and make yourself some flash cards. I took one semester of the language back in college but I just didn't have the time to devote to it with all the coursework I had for my Comp Sci major, and the extra stuff I had to do for the honors program.

GalaxyRanger
March 29th, 2008, 09:38 AM
Latin and/or Japanese.

I can't say anything about Japanese, but I had to take seven years of Latin in school and even though I liked English and French much better, Latin was really really helpful when it come to learning the vocabulary of other European languages. Many English words and even more French words are derived from Latin and I almost never had to really study hard to learn French words, it was pretty easy with having learned all this Latin. My sister also learned Latin and she's currently learning Italian - she says it's also really easy this way when it comes to vocabulary and I'm guessing the same would be true for Spanish. Latin is really the most important European ur-language.

Uchiha Daisuke
March 29th, 2008, 12:14 PM
The best way to learn another language is to be around others that speak the language, but it isn't always so convenient. The best thing I have found are the podcasts. I practice Japanese and Korean, just a beginner. I started listening to JapanesePod101 (http://www.japanesepod101.com) a while back and love it. They do daily podcasts (free and pay options) that are very entertaining and fresh. Thats the problem with cd sets like Pimsleur. While it is a great product, how many times can you listen to the same boring voices? They also have a great website with several different options including help with kenji and kana. They also have several different native speakers to give a variey of natural dialects. Japanese is such a beautiful language, I suggest giving it a try Locke.

They also have a site for Spanish (http://www.spanishpod101.com/)
They split there podcasts up into different shows to cover the variations between Spanish in Mexico vs Spanish in Spain.

They also have several others out there:
KoreanClass101 (http://www.koreanclass101.com/)
FrenchPod101 (http://www.frenchpod101.com/)
GermanPod101 (http://www.germanpod101.com/)
ItalianPod101 (http://www.italianpod101.com/)
It also looks like they have a Arabic site coming.
There is also another company that does a Chinese(Mandarin)cast (http://chinesepod.com/)

There are several other language podcasts out there but I think these guys really have it nailed. All these casts have free feeds on Itunes. A great way to try out a language, on your own time.

Better go, fells like I am giving a sales pitch, sorry.;)

Pike
March 29th, 2008, 01:11 PM
There was a really neat German language podcast I came across last year, but I can't find it now. It was basically a German guy playing with a bunch of old toys and making up stories about them. The idea being that you'd remember odd stories better, I suppose. Evel Knievel figured prominently, as I recall. Anyone know if that's still around?

GalaxyRanger
March 29th, 2008, 01:17 PM
Evel Knievel figured prominently, as I recall. Anyone know if that's still around?

I guess not, Wikipedia says Robert Craig „Evel“ Knievel, Jr died last year.

GalaxyRanger
April 1st, 2008, 04:26 PM
I love finding German words in English, last week's TIME Europe Edition featured what must be a brand-new loanword:


Alt-rockers Radiohead last year famously distributed their album etc.

Alt-rockers, wow, I'm totally baffled, English is such an adaptable language and this is a supercool word on both languages!

Pike
April 1st, 2008, 04:44 PM
Alt-rockers, wow, I'm totally baffled, English is such an adaptable language and this is a supercool word on both languages!

Are you sure it wasn't the other way around? "Alternative Rock" has been a genre in the US since the eighties. I've heard "alt-rock" for years.

Locke
April 1st, 2008, 04:48 PM
The best way to learn another language is to be around others that speak the language, but it isn't always so convenient. The best thing I have found are the podcasts. I practice Japanese and Korean, just a beginner. I started listening to JapanesePod101 (http://www.japanesepod101.com) a while back and love it. They do daily podcasts (free and pay options) that are very entertaining and fresh. Thats the problem with cd sets like Pimsleur. While it is a great product, how many times can you listen to the same boring voices? They also have a great website with several different options including help with kenji and kana. They also have several different native speakers to give a variey of natural dialects. Japanese is such a beautiful language, I suggest giving it a try Locke.

sweet! definately gonna have to give that one a look. thanks =)

GalaxyRanger
April 1st, 2008, 04:49 PM
Are you sure it wasn't the other way around? "Alternative Rock" has been a genre in the US since the eighties. I've heard "alt-rock" for years.

Oh, it means Alternative Rock?
Oh my, then it's just pure coicidence.
German "Altrocker" literally means "old rockers" and is used to refer to a very established rock band that's been around for ages, like the Stones.

My joy was premature.

Pike
April 1st, 2008, 07:31 PM
German "Altrocker" literally means "old rockers" and is used to refer to a very established rock band that's been around for ages, like the Stones.

Oh, a 'false friend' then. Funny, since it still works in their case.

On a different note, I found that German-language immersion 'cast that I was impressed with. It's called mygermanclass.com (http://mygermanclass.com/)

Not that that's very useful to G.R., though...

Audra
April 1st, 2008, 07:52 PM
Wow Audra, if I had someone like you motivating me then I'd probably speak half a dozen languages by now, instead of only two.

Oh, thank you! I didn't see this until just now. I've always wanted to learn more languages and get better at the ones I've studied. I'm okay at Spanish and known very little Italian, but I *love* picking up new phrases in less-common languages, too.


voice porn? :D

What a coincidence- we have a thread (http://forum.galacticwatercooler.com/showthread.php?t=1491) on just that topic!


Oh, it means Alternative Rock?
Oh my, then it's just pure coicidence.
German "Altrocker" literally means "old rockers" and is used to refer to a very established rock band that's been around for ages, like the Stones.

I love this. I want to be an "Altrocker."

One thing I've always been dazzled by is the variety of dialects of British English. Growing up, I assumed there was "rich-people" English and "cockney" English. But over the years I keep discovering new sounds from different parts of England and the UK. If anyone knows of any website or something that explains the name of each dialect and has samples of how they sound (audio or phonetic spellings) I would LOVE you.

Pike
April 1st, 2008, 08:31 PM
I love this. I want to be an "Altrocker."
Well you can be right now in the US. (In Germany you'll have to wait a few years.)


One thing I've always been dazzled by is the variety of dialects of British English. Growing up, I assumed there was "rich-people" English and "cockney" English. But over the years I keep discovering new sounds from different parts of England and the UK. If anyone knows of any website or something that explains the name of each dialect and has samples of how they sound (audio or phonetic spellings) I would LOVE you.

WikiP to the rescue! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dialects_of_the_English_language#External_ links)

GalaxyRanger
April 2nd, 2008, 03:36 AM
the variety of dialects of British English.

Your university's library surely has a copy (probably more) of Peter Trudgill's "Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society" - an awesome&concise introduction to the fascinating field of sociolinguistics and the chapter on "Language and Social Class" deals exactly with what you were talking about.

Don't believe for a second, though, that the dialectal varieties of American English are less mind-boggling for outsiders. My family in the US lives in the NY area and they all speak this upper middle class accent, carefully pronouncing all their "R"'s etc., so I, being naive, of course assumed that everybody in the US talks like that. And then I went to college in the South and eventually ended up dating a girl from Tennessee and boy, whenever she started with that Dixie accent, I could hardly follow her. Sounded very sweet, though and I picked up a few cool words like y'all, mosey, and of course the "proper" pronunciation of words like "paaah" and the number "faaahve"