Places in your community to practice Spanish
I live in a rural area of North Carolina, US where we have a large Latino population. A friend told me I needed to go to our local flea market on the weekend. He said there are so many Spanish speakers participating that all the announcements are first made in Spanish. You can walk around and listen to conversations, try to practice speaking in short exchanges etc. Haven't tried it yet but sounds like fun. He said he felt like he was in another country. I wonder what other places like that exist, food stores, restaurants etc.
I went to university in Bath (UK) where there are a quite a lot of tourists and visitors from other countries; I had a lot of fun listening to people speaking Spanish (even though most of it went over my head!) and occasionally I joined in by greeting them and asking if they were Spanish (in Spanish). Rarely was I disappointed- even though my Spanish was not a great level (I hadn't even finished the first major section) and the conversation quickly moved to them speaking to me in English I felt proud that I could throw a few phrases around without being misinterpreted, I could understand some basic words so that I could guess roughly what they were asking in return and I found that as a whole every Spanish person I spoke to was very open and friendly.
I'm disappointed now, having moved back to the Midlands (Northamptonshire to be precise) as there isn't a chance I'll meet a native speaker outside of CouchSurfing groups.
I would love to have the opportunity to walk around Spanish speaking markets.
Can anyone recommend good music or radio stations which are available and speak in Spanish? I think it might be nice to leave on in the afternoons, on weekends, so I can try and immerse myself in the flow of the language that way (I find natural Spanish speakers have a habit of speaking very fast, and I want to try and acclimatise myself to that if I can).
I love listening to podcasts. There are several freebies aimed at Spanish learners in Itunes. Also, if you can find movies that you're familiar with dubbed in Spanish, this works wonders too. Most DVDs have a Spanish language track. Or you could look up some on youtube, you just have to have 1 name in Spanish to start with and the suggestions box will lead you to others. I started with La Cenicienta-- Cinderella. There are also several Spanish movies on Netflix. Then last week I found vagos.es which seems to be a Spanish language Netflix. Haven't really delved into it yet. Beyond that, I purposefully moved myself to the border, so I could get more interaction with native speakers. It's usually the elderly that haven't picked up the English yet, especially the women. So go where elderly Hispanic women go! I work in a hospital, so I get to practice lots. The flea market is also great, more Spanish there than English.
Donna Marie -- I don't know enough about Spanish to concern myself with regional differences in Mexican dialect!! :) I know enough to know that I can understand Mexicans, Colombians, and Chileans MUCH easier than Argentines, though. But, since many of the Latinos around here (Minnesota) have their family origins in central Mexico, where I have been, it is a good conversation starter. A few weeks ago I saw a picture in the front of a menu and could tell the mesero "I've been there," which was a good way to get thing started.
@LtSteel64: spanishpodcast.org is always fun. Then initiate some skype lessons, look for some people in the internet to chat over webcam. Furthermore, I'd advise to visit a spanish speaking country. I've been to Costa Rica for 10 weeks and I grasped the very basics and - what is more important - the ambition to master the language. But you can't if you're not living the language, this involves everything: Reading, writing, speaking and in the end: Thinking in the language...
There are a lot of people who speak Spanish here. I guess my biggest hurdle is to get over being embarrassed about my poor speaking ability :( I am striving to be like those of you that posted here about jumping right in to speak in Spanish. I keep practicing and I think I'm getting pretty good at reading and writing, but speaking is a whole different challenge!
Oh I feel just like you, pangea. Afraid to try to speak Spanish in public. Actually, first I need to comprehend better. The only thing worse than not being able to say anything correctly would be to not understand what they are saying to you! Turn on a Spanish TV channel and see if you can keep up. I can't.
My Spanish class teacher, born in and lived in Colombia for about 25 years, learned English in school there, said she cried for much of her first year in the U.S. because everyone spoke so fast and she couldn't understand what they were saying. But, she worked at it and now is fluent in English with only a slight accent. One key, she says, is not to try to translate word by word, but get the gist of the sentence and fill in what makes sense.
Yes listening is hard too! Here on duolingo I keep playing the speaking button over and over. I usually have to use slow mode, but then I keep listening to the words in the normal mode to try to get used to it. I like when I can make out everything in normal mode, but that really only happens for phrases that I know pretty well... Spanish tv is very hard. Even when I can make out words, it takes me too long to process them, so I'm on the first line they said and they've already moved on to another scene :P
We have a few Mexican restaurants near us, and a tienda, and the staff enjoy bantering in Spanish/Spanglish, especially those that came from places in Mexico that I have visited. I generally try to strike up conversations with Latinos anywhere I meet them, but in any restaurant I start by asking what part of Mexico their family is from.
I know I'm not ready to try conversations over Skype etc. That's why I thought listening to short exchanges at the Farmers Market might be a good start! So rspreng, once you know what part of Mexico they are from, does that tell you something about their dialect? Or is it just a conversation starter?
Visited two Mexican restaurants this weekend, and both were staffed by folks that were very friendly, helpful, excited to meet gringos that wanted to learn/speak Spanish. In my experience, in the US and Mexico, if you make the effort to speak Spanish and/or talk about Mexico, they like you immediately and will help you, give tips, etc. You will need to (repeatedly) ask them to slow down ;) but they are eager to help. I think many are tired of being told they need to learn English and are drawn to folks that are trying to learn Spanish. My two cents.
rspreng, my experiences at Mexican restaurants have been the same as yours. One funny story, though. Some friends and I, in our early Spanish learning days, decided to visit a restaurant named 'Juan Carlos' to practice ordering foods. Well, it turned out that the owners were from Brazil and spoke only Portuguese and the staff on duty only spoke English. The food was good though. :0 We later visited a known Mexican restaurant and the staff were very happy to work with us in our halting attempts at ordering. I think they enjoyed it as much or more than we did. There is a new restaurant that opened nearby called 'El Rincon Criollo.' I know that rincon means corner and they show 'The Latin Corner' on their sign, but I'm not sure if that's the correct translation of 'Criollo.' Does anyone know?
There are actually meetups to practice -- I think the site was meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com) and you can find Spanish meetups to practice. Also, you can post on craigslist that you'd like to find a Spanish-English language exchange partner. Usually not a bad way to learn (I've had good experiences meeting people). Although not really a true meetup, I use Fixoodle for finding friends to practice with.