tips for an adult wanting to learn a new (non computer) language : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

OK, so I'd like to get a better conversational command of Spanish. Oh, who am I kidding? I need to start from the ground up, since all of my high school and college Spanish is zonk. Verb tenses--zonk. Vocabulary--zonk. I have the abilities of someone who can read a menu and say thank you plus a Sesame Street vocabulary.

Where and how do I start? I tempted to get a textbook and just wade through it. On the other hand, I'm also afraid that I'll gloss over stuff because it looks familar even if I don't know it.

Short of living in another country, what has worked for you? Tapes? A class? Literature? Textbooks?

-- Anonymous, March 15, 2001


Nita, I'm in the same boat. I sort of went crazy and bought a bunch of books -- a used textbook from, a set of CDs, and some dual-language books of short stories. I found that I didn't know where to begin with the textbook, so I jumped right in to the beginning dual-language book.

It's supposed to be for absolute beginners, but it's really not. If you didn't know the fundamentals of Spanish grammar, I think you'd be lost. But if you've had high school and college Spanish, then you DO know the fundamentals (because I mean the REAL basics, like where the adjectives go, and how the pronouns work).

My plan -- and mind you, I don't know how this will work -- is to get through the first of the dual-language books, and *then* start over with the textbook.

I haven't even tried the CDs yet, because it's hard for me to find a time when I just want to sit down and listen. I prefer the written word.

-- Anonymous, March 15, 2001

Berlitz? I just applied there yesterday to be an instructor -- don't know if it'll pan out.

Or, see if you can find a conversation group. I woud up spending my lunch hour with a Spanish-speaking co-worker and we'd speak only Spanish for that hour and she'd supply words when I drew a blank, so that the conversation could keep flowing.

-- Anonymous, March 15, 2001

There's some absolutely wonderful language software called Instant Immersion (from Countertop Software). I've seen it for $16 (for 4 CDs!) at Best Buy and CostCo, if you have either of those stores in your area. Other stores probably have it too. It's wonderful-- interesting and engaging games help even the beginner. I know of what I speak--I bought two or three other Japanese programs and threw them away in frustration. You can get Instant Immersion in about 7 different languages.

-- Anonymous, March 16, 2001

There is no way around studying grammar. That's what's worked for me. Study, study, study, copy the basic dialogues out a million times. (With your hands. Typed language drills somehow don't connect with the brain as directly.) Then start to read, but only stuff that interests you. If reading porn is what it takes to rivet your attention, then read porn.

Most adults fail at learning foreign languages because the teachers don't do enough grammar drills. The current fashions in language teaching are: a) If you just talk, in a fairly suggestopedic way, the students will pick it up; and b) Have them write little stories, even though they don't know any grammar yet. These methods are much less effort for the teachers, but the students don't learn. Especially if the class is only once or twice a week.

If you live in a big city, try to take a high-intensity course at the Spanish Institute or Alliance Francaise or Goethe Institute or whatever. Get a membership. Go to all the movie nights and all the open lectures whether you understand them or not. This is the closest you can get to total immersion (note: works best for people with no "life" that makes claims on their time). If you don't live in a big city ... I dunno, you could watch Sabado Gigante religiously. I've had less than 20 hours of Spanish instruction in my life and even I can understand parts of Sabado Gigante.

-- Anonymous, March 16, 2001

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