Speaking and Listening: Improving?
After having used Duo for a few months I've finally gotten used to the speed at which the listening exercises are spoken, at least well enough to answer most questions without error. For those who are looking to improve or have already improved their listening comprehension (whether past this level or simply to become better at understanding the Duolingo voice): what are your methods for getting better and listening at faster paces? And what are your methods for getting used to longer spoken sentences? Seems to me that I can understand shorter phrases but if someone were to speak a whole paragraph or a few sentences I'd become completely lost.
Obviously the best way to get better at speaking is to speak. However when I first started learning Spanish most of what I did was reading/writing because it was all self-taught. Since I barely speak, and I'm also naturally shy, when it comes time to practice, I'm not very good at it and needless to say I shut down like a brick whenever the situation arises. Anyone else ever have this issue?
I think one simply must speak with real people that will help you, will repeat words, slow down speak in shorter phrases if you ask, listen to you and correct you, etc. You can improve listening skills with podcasts, DVDs, radio, etc. but to speak, you must speak. :) one good piece of advice I heard is 'speak to people and try to make 200 mistakes a day.' I have had look luck hanging out at Mexican restaurants during 'slow' hours, since the help is friendly and some of them like help with their English.
200 mistakes a day haha. That's brilliant. And a doable task for me as well. My biggest issue with not speaking comes from shutting down and going back to English because of a really bad case of nerves when it comes to speaking Spanish. I can usually have a written conversation without a problem. A few mistakes here and there but not much. So when it comes to speaking I don't even give myself a chance to make 2 mistakes let alone 200.
There are many ways to do this, and it's different for each person. I was forced to do listening activities in class, but, as I was the only student, I could get out of a lot of it. What I do is watch children's shows in Spanish. They speak fast, but they speak in a way that children can understand, i.e., they use shorter sentences. It's good to start out like that. Then I go to shows online or I pop in a movie that I can watch with closed captioning or subtitles. Sometimes the words of the actors in movies and the subtitles aren't the same, so I suggest online TV shows. If you can't find any with CC or subtitles, just listen, but listen INTENTLY. I used to think just sitting with Spanish in the background would do the trick, but it doesn't. Listen for words you know. At first you might not understand something, and then you can understand an entire scene, and then you go back to not knowing a thing except maybe three words. It's still something. Music with lyrics can help, too. Just don't depend on outside aid for more than a few months, I'd say. One day you won't have any of that. Understanding complex structures takes time. Reading complex structures takes time. But also think: How often in daily speech do you use a sentence with three dependent clauses and a couple conjunctions? I hope not often. I know what you want, though: To be able to understand any situation. I want it, too, but sometimes you've got to be more realistic at first.
I'm not shy, but, when it comes to speaking Spanish, I get sooooo embarrassed. When I'm around friends, it's alright. I just spit the Spanish out. I don't give myself time to think about speaking it or not; I just say it. It's not the best method, but it's all I've got.
Right on the dot answer. Thanks so much. Yeah, listening in the background doesn't do much for me unless I'm listening to music because I always do that with headphones in. But do you have any recommendations as far as specific TV shows or movies? I've looked up a few before but most of the time when I come across a list its the same movies being recommended which by that point I will have seen them already.
When it comes to people I already know for the most part I'm not too shy. But when it comes to Spanish I'm like the new kid in the second grade class where its already the middle of the school year and everybody already has friends. I can't even just spit it out for the most part. Every sentence I've ever come up with just stays in my head and if I do have any conversation in Spanish it's usually listening in Spanish and responding in English. Most of the time I draw a blank slate because of my nerves.
TV Shows - I don't know; it's tough. Most TV shows I have found online in Spanish weren't that interesting. I would suggest some romantic comedy shows. They tend to be alright with some light humor. For movies, pick a movie that you know that is also available in Spanish. I hate Disney movies, but they are fantastic for learning languages! I've read somewhere that listening to music in your target language helps significantly, but I haven't done much of that, unfortunately. I do listen to a band called Los Amigos Invisibles sometimes.
I guess just talk to yourself in Spanish first. Write some English sentences, then translate them into Spanish aloud. Maybe google speaking activities, like prompts, you know. "Cómo es tu familia? Descríbela." Just talk to yourself. Conjugate some verbs. I used to do that ALL the time. I would pick a verb and conjugate it in every tense I knew.
I guess I'll go ahead and add them to my iTunes library then haha. I have a few groups/artists that I listen to as far as music in Spanish goes and I've noticed that after listening to the same things repeatedly (because some of it can be really catchy) most words stand out, with the exception of slang. I'm sure I have a few DVDs lying around here too that I've seen enough times to know what is going on in Spanish.
I could do that. Would help a lot since I seem to forget the verbs I don't use regularly. Thanks again for the help, dude.
Yeah! It really helps when you know the plot of the movie. I don't have Netflix, but I hear that you can search movies based on language. Someone suggested to search for a movie in Spanish and then watch it over and over and over until you can repeat it word-for-word, and then move on to other movies. So, idk, that might be an option.
Yes. It helps tremendously. Just conjugating verbs helps tremendously. You want conjugations to just be a gut reaction. Even if it's the pluperfect subjunctive and you don't think you need to know it that well, just have it there in the back of your brain always. You won't go blank. And, if you do, it won't be blank for long—maybe just a slight pause.
I've used Netflix. The movie selection in Spanish is so/so. Some are good, some are just terrifying(big horror selection) and some are moderately okay. Though in the past few months the available choices have improved. Indeed, that might be an option. I'll give it a shot.
I'll definitely be doing this from now on. Maybe then it won't take me minutes to think put my sentences together.
Once again I really appreciate it. Thanks.
Extr@ en español, available on YouTube, is a 13 show series for intermediate level Spanish students. They use common vocabulary and speak clearly and slowly with no slang.
News in Slow Spanish is excellent. It used to be free but I think they charge now. It might be worth paying for. Do check it out and decide what you think. I think you can get a few podcasts for free before you have to pay.
Search for "documentaries español" on YouTube. Documentaries speak clearly and slowly with no slang. There is lots of visual input to accompany what you're hearing. And there are usually plenty of pauses for you to rewind what you think you just heard and try and make sense of it.
Watch your very favorite movies, the ones you have practically memorized, with the Spanish soundtrack enabled. Watch it, like, 15 or 20 times and listen for new words every time. Keep a notepad handy and jot them down to look up later if you like.
Find Spanish music that you like, search for the words, work out the meaning of the song, and then sing along. Songs are great for reinforcing vocabulary and verb tenses, and singing along helps your mouth get used to forming the sound combinations and using the right rhythm, etc. of the language.
Verbling is a great place to chat with a group of folks from all over the world in Spanish. If you are too shy, just listen.
Check out Busuu and LiveMocha. They have written and spoken exercises and native speakers comment on your work. This is good if you're super shy and need a short suggested topic to write/speak about.
I've kinda sorta tried LiveMocha before and wasn't a very big fan of it but Busuu was alright. They're both somewhat similar.
I've never heard of Verbling so I'll definitely take a look at it.
I have been listening to music and it does help a lot but my selection is small so I'm open to artist recommendations.
Same with movies. I've seen a few and even watch my favorites in Spanish from time to time but suggestions would be great.
Documentaries I could possibly do if I find something interesting enough.
And I watched Extr@ and thought it was fantastic for learning. I was hoping to find more things out there similar to it.
Oh! I forgot to mention Destinos. Just Google it. I've only watched part of the first episode but it gets good reviews.
LiveMocha goes through a lot of changes, like Duolingo. I used to like it okay, then they changed it and I didn't really care for it so I haven't been back. But they do make you write and speak, which Duo doesn't.
Movies... I like Avatar, but I'm an Avatar fan. I wouldn't recommend any of the Star Trek movies because words like warp drive, phasers, beam me up... those are not going to be understandable nor useful in conversation. I tend to skip any movie with a lot of jargon. I like The Lake House pretty well because the vocabulary is not too fast and it's normal day to day vocab.
Music of course will depend on your taste. I'm a fan of 80's rock. If you like that kind of thing, then check out the following:
Cuando Brille el Sol - La Guardia
Eso que Llevas ahi - Fito Paez
Somos - Melocos
Escuela de Calor - Radio Futuro
Princesas - Pereza
Signos - Soda Stereo
Ahora Que no Vives Conmigo - Tex Tex
¡Ay! Dolores - Reincidentes
Soldadito Marinero - Fito Fitipaldis
If you like Jazz, check out Magos Herrera; unfortunately there aren't a lot of good YouTube videos with her work in them.
Also Buika. No Habrá Nadie en el Mundo is really good.