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https://www.duolingo.com/mcspifferson

Advice you wish someone told you when starting out Spanish?

I often see these kinds of topics online on various subjects and I have ALWAYS seen them as vastly useful! Although I don't discourage people from making mistakes (they make memories stick, trust me), it's really nice to get advice from more experienced people. Especially if you're relatively new to a field.

So I propose we offer the best advice or skills etc. to the Duolingo community! My share is this:

  1. Read without the dictionary sometimes. (This forces you to stop thinking about literal translations and comprehend in the native language! It may be slow at first but you WILL get faster! Don't worry about understanding every little word or phrase. Every sentence gives you exposure and experience, and you can often guess from context.)

  2. Practice actually speaking to native speakers. (Lang-8 has a great community willing to exchange skypes to talk! This is really nerve-wracking, but the earlier you start the better. You'll learn speech patterns that may be a little irregular based on the rules you've acquired from school/Duo, pick up a little slang, and also have fun talking to people.)

  3. Never rely on ONLY one source to learn a language. (If you don't understand one site's explanation of a grammar concept, look it up on another! Practice constructing sentences on Lang-8. Study vocab with the SRS system-based website Memrise. Google random questions floating in your head. Look up confusing vocab. The possibilities are endless.)

  4. HAVE FUN!!! Seriously! Study using materials that interest you! Who says you can't play video games in Spanish? Who says you can't catch up on the latest news on BBC Mundo? Or enjoy a morning talk show on Telemundo? Or subscribe to Spanish-speaking YouTubers? Do what you love and it won't even feel like studying!

If anyone has any more comments or their own opinions to add, please do! There are many ways to learn.

4 years ago

49 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/GutierrezIgnacio

Nice advices.

El español es un idioma que se nos complica, incluso a nosotros, los nativos. Hay veces que pienso que debería volver a aprender el español (jaja).

Si alguien se encuentra dispuesto a practicar francés, inglés, alemán o español, puede decirme. Podríamos hacerlo a través de Skype.

Sería interesante intercambiar opiniones sobre temas de actualidad, tecnología, cultura, sociedades, ciencia, bla bla bla.

Yo estoy dispuesto.

Note: "jaja" is our "LOL".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/roodvuur

Motivation of the day: I can understand someone trying to explain that his language often confuses native speakers and who is willing to practice several languages through Skype by exchanging opinions on a variety of topics in Spanish. Thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Talca
Talca
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In English, "advice" is never used in the plural.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GlomThompson

A lo mejor ya lo sepas, pero se puede hacer intercambios de idioma en persona con algunas páginas de web. Yo he hecho muchos y son geniales. Utilizo conversationexchange.com principalmente, pero http://ar.tusclasesparticulares.com/ probablemente te podría servir también.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GutierrezIgnacio

Thanks a lot.

Creo que voy a empezar a utilizar conversationexchange.com.

Acabo de agregar mi dirección de correo Skype para quien esté dispuesto a dialogar media o una hora en Español, Francés, Alemán o Inglés.

We should only appoint a date.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sara7Hall

Thank you, GutierrezIgnacio - I have seen native speakers use jaja a lot and I was curious. At first I thought it was a typo since the j is next to the h on the keyboard! That's very helpful!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GutierrezIgnacio

It is a great community to understand our "Argot" words.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

The newspaper is your best source for simple, easy-to-read Spanish. It has mostly simple declarative sentences in a few tenses, with a limited vocabulary of 500 to 1500 words, and the articles are short enough to finish in one sitting. It's also been edited to remove typos and misspellings--nothing is worse than trying to look up a word that doesn't exist! (Try looking up the meaning of "wrod" sometime.) News broadcast are also good, for much the same reasons plus the "newscaster accent" is clear and distinctive in any language.

Contrary to what you might think, children's books are hard, because they use short "easy" words with irregular conjugations and multiple meanings, plus vocabulary that you've never seen before and will never use again (ogres, knights, swords, and spells, oh my!). Children's television is worse, because it has all of the above plus high, squeaky voices and unnatural intonations.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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I don't know why you are trying to write off children's books. Some people might actually want to read about ogres, knights, swords and spells. The reason being that the news is by and large terminally depressing. Conversely, childrens or young adults stories are usually written with the aim of not sending the reader to sleep. I would still sit down with a Roald Dahl book today. Besides, the news is just as full of words I'm never likely to repeat. I played a heavily text based computer game from start to finish not long ago, and it immeasurably improved my reading ability in German, and more importantly didn't feel like a chore.And as a bonus I got to enjoy a subtly different flavour of German.

Lebewohl!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

To be clear, I read children's and young adult novels in English, and always have. I would like to progress to the point where I can read them in Spanish, but it's not the place to start. Many people think that they're easy, and that was what I first assumed as well.

The newspaper is fun for me because I'm living here (in Costa Rica) and reading the local paper gives me a peek into a side of the country that I don't see, not to mention explaining things I see in the streets or glimpse on televisions. When Costa Rica had its presidential election a month or so ago, I was able to read who the candidates were and (to some extent) what they stood for. Since it can otherwise be hard to tell the difference between an election and a football game (Costa Ricans seem equally enthusiastic about both!), I like knowing what's going on.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ALoUSyUseRnaME
ALoUSyUseRnaME
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Also, always, try reading your favorite novel out loud in spanish. EXTREMELY effective. Reading through it more than once is also helpful since re-reading may help you understand it better. Also, you can read the news in spanish, and maybe even try out the duolingo area for spanish natives learning english and try answering a few of their questions.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CattleRustler

I wish someone told me to go to LearnSpanish.com and read up on Object Pronouns, Ser vs. Estar, and Gustar and Verbs Like Gustar

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/roodvuur

I have not seen this tip here yet, it's not specifically for Spanish but: have conversations with yourself. It's easy, free, you can do it literally anywhere and in truth not that different from conversing with another person. You will really soon notice what knowledge you do not yet possess and what to improve on. Now, I doubt it'll be useful if you can just make some basic sentences but as you progress and reach a basic level of intermediate understanding, do it! Related to this: start thinking in Spanish. Not all the time, as that would severely hinder your mental capacities, but gradually increase the time you spend thinking in Spanish. It will help.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/le-lapin-noir
le-lapin-noir
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As an addendum to 1, invest in a Spanish-only dictionary and look up unknown words with that. It will really improve your ability to think about the language in its own terms rather than relying on English to understand. ^_^

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/katehole1

Great idea. Thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
Lrtward
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I strongly agree with your 3rd point, to use multiple sources of learning. Movies, radio, books, news websites, YouTube, Verbling (for speaking with native speakers), other websites designed to teach Spanish... these are all part of my regular arsenal.

The one thing I would add is to focus from the very beginning on strong, clear vowel sounds when speaking. This will make or break your accent. If you have good clean consistent vowel sounds, people will tell you "Tu accento suena muy bonita, es muy fácil entenderte" which is always nice to hear. Note: I don't hear that often, but when I do, it's lovely.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AImaMexicana

What a great compliment and thanks for sharing your advice. I'm going to make a point to work on my vowel sounds. I want to sound authentically fluent.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nyetovich135
nyetovich135
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I changed the language of my phone a español and I'm learning lots of new words now

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pobrecito13

I did that too. Websites pickup that my language is set to Spanish, so I end up with many sites going to their Spanish version of a web page, and google maps gives me directions in Spanish.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tbvjshqk017

IF you want to practice spoken spanish, there is a site called 'Verbling' where you can practice your spanish with native spanish speakers. It's free of charge, of course.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GutierrezIgnacio

I'll add some newspapers from Argentina so you could develope your reading skills:

Infobae = http://www.infobae.com Clarin = http://www.clarin.com.ar La Nación = http://www.lanacion.com.ar

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

Thank you. I read Costa Rica's La Nación, http://www.nacion.com/, since I am in Costa Rica.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GutierrezIgnacio

You are welcome! But lanacion.com.ar is from Argentina!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Adina_atl

I think "La Nación" is like "The Times"--there are dozens if not hundreds of newspapers with those names, but they are not related. The London (Inglaterra) Times has nothing in common with the New York (Estadounidense) Times and the Costa Rican La Nación has nothing to do with the Argentina La Nación.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GutierrezIgnacio

It's exactly as you say

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/angel194462

Don't quit after DuoLingo! There's still a lot to learn! Also, especially to those complaining about the vocabulary tab, keep a personal notebook! Order it however you want and write sample sentences to know how to use words! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AureliaUK
AureliaUK
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Absolutely! Keeping a small personal vocab book right from day one is one of the most useful tips I can think of.

I've always used those little Silvine soft cover note books because they're small enough to carry around and cost less than £1. By folding the pages in half lengthwise and putting the target language words on one side of the fold and your native language on the other, it's easy to cover one column of words, either with your hand or by folding the page over on itself, and mentally translate them into the other.

Refer to it whenever you have a few spare minutes such as while you're eating your sandwich at lunch, going to work on the bus or just before you turn in at night. Five or 10 minutes is enough to run through and revise a couple of pages of vocabulary.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/quriousking

I wish that someone would have told me earlier that just because Spanish is supposed to be an easy language to learn (if you speak English), does mean you will be fluent in it within 3 months. Interesting enough, I learnt other languages much faster than Spanish, but that has to do more with motivation that anything else.

  1. At first, you mind will translate to English when you read Spanish. Force yourself to break that habit as quickly as possible, even if it means you have to read out loud.

  2. Know why you want to learn the language. If you want to speak to people, then focus primarily on listening. If it is to read, then focus on reading and writing first.

  3. Find a medium that forces you to use the language. Take a Spanish dancing class, shop in a Spanish store, eat Spanish food, etc, to assimilate/associate the language and words with actual activities. It is even better to eavesdrop on people whenever possible.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/curlyeric
curlyeric
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1b - watch Spanish shows without English subtitles. Even if you really can't follow at first ( or even for months ) you are training your ears.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/moogy
moogy
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I really like your point 4.By embracing what you are interested in into your language learning your motivation and understanding will rocket.This could be literature,sport, music,politics,history,travel,movies,biographies,science,information technology and a host of other topics .Also you can check out subjects you are new to or you have limited experience in while at the same time practicing your language skills. Happy learning !!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chabas1
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  1. Read! Getting your favorite book in a Spanish translation might help keep you focused at first.
  2. Don't obsess about understanding every single word when you start reading! It's just going to slow you down. As long as you understand the gist of what's going on, you're on the right track. Stop and look up words that you see frequently.
  3. Listen to music and learn the lyrics. I personally like to listen to the Spanish versions of Disney songs, because Disney songs are usually well-enunciated in any language.
  4. Write! It could be as simple as writing a Facebook status in Spanish.
  5. When you start thinking in Spanish, that's a clue that you're doing something right. :)
4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FakeShark
FakeShark
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Don't overload yourself with too many different study resources. You do need variety in what you do, for example you should make an effort to speak straight away, to learn some vocabulary, and to go through a course which teaches you the language. But, pick just one vocabulary course on memrise and just one from a textbook or audiocourse and finish what you've started before moving onto something else. Why? The achievement of finishing one will keep you motivated and you're not diluting your time on multiple resources. My current method is to set monthly goals with completing things or getting halfway through them.

Also, Michel Thomas audio courses are amazing. In my opinion, they should be one of the first things you do in any new language.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mcspifferson

Oh yes. You're absolutely right and I couldn't agree more. You definitely don't want to use multiple resources and only half-understand the material!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jurekcy1

Michel Thomas courses are fantastic. They force you to speek with with accent on right letters :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jaketeelin

They are fantastic courses but Michel often over emphasises the stress in the present simple and can make you sound more Italian than Spanish.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jurekcy1

I think that in very early stage of learning language there is nothing wrong with over emphasize. For example to make clear distinction between "hablá" and "habla"

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/holadatguy

Studys say that hearing a language and interacting to it is the best way to learn....... look up the pimsleur effect

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VictorRivasG

Music, for me listening to music is a great way train you ear, learn new words and practice, I mean, we all like to sing along :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoyceMann
JoyceMann
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My advice? 1. Don't focus too much on memorizing verb conjugations, direct object pronouns or any other kinds of lists. It's not how you learned your native language, is it? 2. If at all possible, enroll in a language immersion program in the country where your new language is spoken.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wonderboy6
Wonderboy6
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Learn the accents. edit: Lol @ one punch man

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/psionpete
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Thanks for the post, Lang-8 looks very useful. Have a lingot.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mcspifferson

Thank you very much! There is a huge community of native speakers of many languages on Lang-8, so you can probably use it for Italian too! Good luck! :D

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/black16knights17

i wish somebody would give me advice on how to make salsa

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jurekcy1

If you are not Spaniard born in Spain, from spanish madre from spanish abuela from el campo you will never make proper salsa :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Laurawindsor

I started learning Spanish by listening to CDs in the car. I would borrow them from the library - Pimsleur CDs and Michel Thomas CDs. It is amazing how much time is spent in the car and how much Spanish I actually heard while driving. I would listen and then repeat what was said. It is a great way to hear the proper pronunication of words and to hear how words are put together. However, I did realize that I needed to learn more formally, so I started taking a class and using books and Duolingo and other computer programs. I still listen to the CDs because it keeps Spanish in my head. Learning another language is much more complicated than I anticipated! But challenging and enjoyable.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mcspifferson

Wow! You've come so far from simply listening and repetition. Congratulations and I wish you luck on your language-learning journey!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierrasue50

Another good CD source for listening/learning in your car or wherever is SynergySpanish.com from Marcus Santamaria. I learned some very valuable stuff from him.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kassandra8286
kassandra8286
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Agreed. I love Marcus. His course is pretty low-tech but his method, which involves some reading/writing but mostly audio, has really given a turbo-boost to my listening comprehension and ability to express myself. It's a great supplement to Duolingo.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Laurawindsor

Thanks. I will see if I can find it. What I love about listening to Spanish CDs in the car is that it doesn't feel like such hard work to learn a language. It feels more relaxed and if I don't get it, I just keep listening until it becomes absorbed. I find that I have to go back to earlier CDs too because as I learn new things, I forget some of the old. I also liked the Babar children's books in Spanish. I found them quite helpful for grammar and everyday words.

4 years ago