Word order and Hearing
¡Qué onda! I'm a sophomore high school student currently taking my sixth year of Spanish (though, technically, it's the third level of Spanish that my school; the four years I took Spanish from 5th - 8th grade all counted as "Spanish 1"), and I just recently started using Duolingo by recommendation of my teacher. The point being that I'm certainly not a beginner at Spanish. However, I find it very difficult when I'm listening to someone speak Spanish to process the meaning of what they are saying as they say it because of the word order. This is usually because of the placement of DOP/IDOP pronouns. Por ejemplo:
"Ella se lo ha dado." - "She has given it to him/her/you/they"
When I'm reading or writing this I can look at the whole sentence and know what it means, but when listening to someone talk, the pronouns confuse me because in my head I have to think "Is this reflexive, direct object, indirect object? Who are they referring to?" I usually have to listen to the rest of the sentence and think about it before I can interpret who is doing what to whom, which frustrates me because it's not as if that's something I have to do in English and I feel like this could be a big hurdle towards me learning Spanish fluently. I think part of the problem is that I'm still in that point of learning Spanish where I have to translate the sentence into English in my head. I've been getting better at not doing that lately, but it still persists.
Any advice on what I can do to comprehend Spanish better and more naturally? Or in other languages for that matter? And how long will it take for me to get to the point where I don't have to think about what a sentence means and just understand it the way I would English?
Most sentences--and all sentences with pronouns--are in response to something. "Ella se lo ha dado" means someone has given something to someone, which is confusing in theory but easy in practice, since you already have some idea what the person is trying to say. "Why does Jose have Maria's book?" "She has given it to him." The only words you actually need are "She has given." She can't have given him to the book, that doesn't make sense. She can't have given it to me, because I don't have it. She can't have given them to him or it to them because neither the book, Maria, nor Jose qualify as "them." If you were having a lazy conversation with a friend "Gave it," would be not only a sufficient answer, but a fairly common one.
Realizing that you don't need to understand (or even hear!) ever word in a language is how you start hearing it as a native. Which is easier to say than to do. I'm not there yet, not even close.