I could use some advise...
I took Spanish classes in high school because I always wanted to learn Spanish, but after high school never put it to good use, and if you don't use it, you lose it. So eight years out of high school, I meet the most amazing man, who just so happens to be Colombian. And after we started dating I thought, "This could be my chance to learn Spanish like I've always wanted". And only a few months after we started dating he wanted to take me to Colombia to meet his family. So right before we leave for Colombia I decided to buy Rosetta Stone so I could freshen up. But it really didn't seem to be very useful (and yes, that might have been because I only used it for a couple of weeks). I went to Colombia not being able to speak pretty much anything, but regardless I had the most amazing time, and his family was the best, and thank goodness most of them spoke English. On the way home from Colombia someone told me about Duolingo and I downloaded it to my phone right away. I love it. And just after a weeks time, I found that I was getting more out of this free app than I was with Rosetta Stone, so while I was still in the 30 day trial period with Rosetta Stone, I was able to cancel it and get my money refunded, and I've been using Duolingo ever since. Duolingo has been helpful, and I have learned a lot from it. But the thing is, I've been using Duolingo for about 9 months now, and I'm not even half way through the tree. I just seem to be struggling and I keep going back and doing lessons over and over, and then I get frustrated and I start all over from the top (which does seem to help quite a bit). But still I don't feel like I'm retaining as much as I should be (is this normal?). And I'm beginning to think that leaning a new language just isn't for me. This amazing Colombian and I have decided to get married this December. And his family is coming out here for the wedding. And I want more than anything to be able to speak with them in Spanish. But I only have 4 months to go...=0 My fiance says he would love it if I was able to speak Spanish, but unfortunately he isn't all that helpful in pushing me to learn (yes, I know, it's not his job to 'push me', but it would help if he was more involved in me wanting to learn). He has lived in America for over 13 years now, and he definitely speaks in English more often than Spanish, so its kinda hard to get him to switch back and talk to me in Spanish to help me learn. But I think I also get frustrated when he does speak to me in Spanish because I'm just not catching on to what he is trying to say, so that makes him just want to stop and have that conversation with me in English. I don't blame him. But there is also the problem that I get to nervous speaking in Spanish cause I don't know if I'm saying it right or using the right words, or even putting the sentence together right. I don't want to sound like an idiot (even though I know that is just part of learning). So at this point (before I throw in the rag) I'm reaching out for some advise. My questions to you would have to be: How long have you been on Duolingo? How long did it take you tell you felt more comfortable speaking in Spanish? How long did it take you to finish your tree? What helped you along the way(other websites, movies, audio, methods ect.)? Any suggestions to get my fiance more interested in helping me? How do you get over the fear of sounding stupid when you talk in Spanish? And any other suggestions you could give me would be awesome!
Thank You so much for your time and listening to my story :)
My advice is a little different than most here...
I'll start by saying that, frankly, I don't think you should worry about finishing your Duolingo tree right now. No one at your wedding is going to be particularly bothered if you haven't learned about the subjuntive. When you're crunched for time and your needs are very specific, you should focus on the things you need NOW and you can fill in the rest later.
I think you don't need to learn Spanish so much as you need to learn WEDDING Spanish.
You want to learn Spanish in general eventually, but right now you have 4 months to be able to talk to people at your wedding. Someday, Duolingo's lessons on politics and science may be helpful to you, but there's a good chance no one's going to come to your wedding and use the Spanish word for "substances."
If I were you, I would go to iTalki. That's a site that focuses on helping people get conversation partners and tutors in the languages they want to learn. I would do this for a couple of reasons. First, it sounds like your fiance isn't naturally a teacher, or you wouldn't be here asking us this. Second, relationships are already under a TON of stress leading up to a wedding, so this probably isn't really the best time.
And, well, third it might be fun to shock him with your progress? :)
I went onto iTalki and did a search for you for professional teachers who teach Spanish, also speak English, and are in Columbia: http://www.italki.com/teachers/professional?src=teacher-index#teach=spanish&speak=english&country=CO&page=1 (There are also non-professional tutors on the site, as well as conversation partners where you take turns each speaking the other's language for free so that you can both learn. For the time-crunch and general wedding stress, though, it seemed smart to just go straight to professional teacher.)
I would tell the teacher, "I'm having a wedding, and my soon-to-be husband is Columbian, and I need to be able to say and to understand the things that Columbians will expect to be talking about at a wedding."
I'd probably give this person a copy of the menu and a picture/description of the venue and that kind of thing so that you can learn words that are related to YOUR wedding. You may never need to know the Spanish term for "salmon" again, but if you're serving salmon at your wedding you'll probably want to know what someone's talking about when they're trying to tell you how wonderful it is :) Make sure you understand the basic questions that will almost definitely come up. Where are you two going to live? Are you going to have kids? Where's the honeymoon?
I'd probably also ask the teacher to do a lot of practicing with you on how to introduce people and whatever words you'll need to introduce the people closest to you. Weddings are key places for being able to say things like "Please allow me to introduce my mother. This is my father. Oh, and please excuse my uncle, he gets a little carried away when he drinks at a big family gathering."
I'd also spend some time doing my best to get a few phrases like, "I'm so happy you could come all this way to be here with us." absolutely nailed with perfect pronunciation and no fumbling because that's a sentence you know you're going to need. You may also want to get your fiance and/or teacher to help you put together a short statement where you can stand up at dinner and comfortably say a few sentences like, "We're so honored that you've all come to join us here. I know you had to travel a long way to be here, and we feel so blessed to have people in our lives who love us so much. I would love to talk to all of you tonight, but I'm still just learning Spanish, so please forgive me if I stumble over my words." and just memorize the hell out of it so that you don't have to figure out what to say under pressure.
I believe that if you stand up, say a few sentences of Spanish at dinner in a reasonably good accent and it's clear that you've truly made an effort to learn, you'll impress the hell out of people, win their hearts, and they'll do everything they possibly can to meet you halfway for the rest of the night.
For all of this, I'd get a copy of Anki (flash card software available for free) so that you can load it up with the phrases and words you need for your wedding and practice them little by little over the next few months.
All of the other things that people are mentioning about classes and television and radio WILL help your general understanding of Spanish, but the main focus of your time and energy should probably be more specifically on optimizing your wedding smalltalk skills.
First off: CONGRATULATIONS on the wedding! Now on to your questions (going to make it quick cause it's well past my bedtime) ... I've been on DL for 42 days now. It took me about a week to finish my tree, but I took Spanish in high school and college, so I tested out of a lot of lessons. Plus, I was on it nonstop and knocked out a good chunk on a roadtrip from San Antonio to Corpus and back.
Truth be told, I'm still not comfortable speaking Spanish. I suffer from "paralysis by analysis" and try to think of each verb tense instead of just letting it flow. This leads to a big headache. I'm going to find someone locally to practice speaking because it is definitely my weakest out of writing, reading, and speaking.
Learning tools: Memrise, News in Slow Spanish, Spanish subtitles/audio on cartoons (Netflix), and StudySpanish.com. My suggestion would be to let him know how important is to you and ask him to speak slower. Get over the fear of sounding stupid by realizing you are the only one that thinks you sound stupid :) In my experience, native Spanish speakers can easily tell Spanish is not your native language and will give you an A+ for effort. Best of luck to you!
Hi, can you join a group or class where you live? That might get you more confident. If you do some Spanish with your fiance, maybe make it specific, ask him how you should speak to wedding guests you don't know well to thank them for attending, and get little phrases memorised. It will come in time, there always seems to be plateaus and humps when you learn a language.
Don't start thinking you should be at a certain stage, or have finished the tree, it doesn't work like that. Go over things as much as you need.
Use films and TV and radio in Spanish, too, but it's also good to just have these as background while you're doing other things. Maybe get a language partner to skype with, anything which will encourage you to speak, and gradually get you more confident. The first time I visited Spain, a lot of things suddenly became natural and easy for me to say, because of hearing them constantly. Maybe give yourself some little scenarios to try out, and then go through them with a native speaker. e.g. explain the kind of work you have done today, talk about your favourite foods and restaurants you enjoy going to, anything really, but give yourself a topic, look up some simple phrases, and get your fiance or another speaker to help you with questions. Good luck.
The best help you can have is right next to you. You said it yourself, if you don't practise a language, you lose it. Tell your fiancé that if he doesn't practice Spanish, he'll lose it (try threatening him that way). If it doesn't work, just beg him. Speak spanish 24/7 about everything. I can understand he doesn't want to speak it, but get him to do it. I'd love to have a German boyfriend!
It seems like everyone has great advice for you. My best advice is this: expose yourself to the language, and practice using it. 1) Exposure: listen closely when your boyfriend speaks Spanish. Don't expect to to understand all of it, just try to get the gist. Watch Spanish-language news, soap operas, even futbol, read short stories or news articles. Focus on overall meaning and frequently recurring words and phrases. You will find over time that your comprehension improves merely from paying attention to the language. 2) Practice: even if your boyfriend doesn't always speak Spanish to you, speak it to him! Make mistakes, learn to recognize them and correct them and go one (think about mistakes this way: even in English, you sometimes screw up and say something wrong. So, you either skip over it because you know what you did wrong, or you fix it, and then you go on). If you can't think of the right word, describe it, use pantomime, or (as a last resort) fill in the gaps in your Spanish with English. Even when you're not speaking, you can practice in your head--as you walk down the street/in the office/in the kitchen/wherever, think of the names of things, of the things you would do with those things...
hello, congrats on the wedding! I've been using duolingo around 4 mths now & I'm also only about halfway through the tree. I like to take it slow & practice all the lessons over again so I can retain the information. I also use practice makes perfect Spanish workbooks, listen to music only in Spanish & watch tv in Spanish. my boyfriend is from el Salvador & although he can understand English he cant speak it well. (he has a lot of trouble pronouncing words) we've been together about 3 mths & I would call myself semi-fluent at this point. he does have to speak more slowly to me than he would with a native & repeat himself sometimes :) but I'm lucky that he's very patient. the more you're able to listen to Spanish the more your listening skills will improve. you can create radio stations on Pandora & watch some Spanish shows on hulu for free. speaking & listening to your fiancé probably would help you the most but I can understand the frustrations both of you are having. my suggestion would be to make it fun! perhaps Friday nights could be Spanglish night! the two of you could cook a Columbian dish together, after dinner put on some Spanish music & dance, rent a movie in Spanish to watch together. try not to worry that you don't understand everything perfectly or cant speak perfectly. if you keep at it little by little you will improve. Buena suerte
Congratulations, are we invited to the wedding...?
I have been on Duolingo for just over three months and I feel like I still have a long way to go on my tree. I take things really slow making sure I know the lessons really well before moving on. Basically one lesson a day or I stay on that lesson if I'm struggling with it.
How much would you say you do in a day? If you learn a lot in a day then I would say you're probably finding it hard to retain the new informtion because it's a lot to remember overnight and then you would be adding more on the next day and you're not giving yourself enough time to process it all.....or what I said may just be a load of rubbish.
Anyway, my advice on how to become more confident and get your fiance involved would be to choose some English sentences and try to say them in Spanish to him. If they're wrong ask him to tell you why and what it should be. Even if you sound stupid, it's only your fiance that's going to hear your right now and he won't care.