Two weeks in Baja - how it went
Hi all, so I finished the Spanish tree (not turning it gold, just got through it) about a week before our trip to Baja. This was the test - how improved would my Spanish be?
There's a good number of people in Baja that know at least some English, and I'm pale & blonde, so most folks peg me for a gringo straightaway. I wasn't anywhere near ready to try to stay in Spanish if English was spoken to me. But I would try to start in Spanish if I spoke first.
I could read just about anything I needed to. I could generally tell what articles in the paper were about, though I wouldn't trust myself not to misunderstand the more complicated sentences. But reading a bus schedule, filling out registration forms, that was all good.
If folks were willing to slow down and speak simply, we could manage to conduct whatever business was at hand. Especially cause folks in Baja are so used to dealing with English-speaking tourists. But it's not like I understood every word said.
As far as actually speaking myself, that was much more difficult. Sometimes, I could get out a complete sentence or two, especially if I had time to prepare, like when I was walking to the bus station to buy a ticket. But often I would just toss out the relevant words and they'd have to put it together.
None of this is surprising, because Duolingo has been almost my sole form of instruction and practice. You mostly read and write in it, and listen to a lesser extent. Not to dis Duolingo! I'd never be this far along without it.
So be assured, folks, it works! It's worth it! I was so curious about everything I saw and I'm so eager to learn more so I can ask people a million questions about everything.
Now to figure out how to go further... I'm definitely going to work on turning my tree gold, since vocabulary was a principal reason that I couldn't say more. I'd recognize the word when it was said to me, but couldn't pull it out when I needed it (very common among language learners). There's no beginning Spanish conversation group here in my city... any advice on finding conversation opportunities?
muchas gracias a ustedes para su ayuda!
Yo hablo español, soy de sur america y escuché los audios y me parecieron muy buenos, el acento Español si se nota pero no hubieron modismos o lexicos propios del pais, por lo que es un español muy neutro.
This is a really good resource! I listen to them multiple times. It teaches not only vocabulary but also cultural differences and even some short grammar lessons.
Don't forget to check locally on places like Meetup.com, the schedule at your local library and/or the local colleges. I would be shocked if any decent sized town lacked a group of people learning Spanish. If that fails you can hit up iTalki for one on one time with language partners or teachers over skype.
I'll have to check out iTalki. Already checked out meetup, the library, and the U, and the groups available are wayyy beyond my current abilities. There used to be a beginners meetup but it seems to have folded. :(
Wonderful post and tribute to Duolingo. I am using all the free resources I have to learn as much as possible. Free to me are: Duolingo, the local library that has lots of early reader Spanish language children's books and audio tapes, have a native speaker friend that doesn't mind when I say things to him like: "Mi gato beben leche" , and I watch my two local Spanish language television stations. Soap operas help me get the sound/listening part better and I can get the gist if I put the Spanish language closed captions on, the commercials and the news are easier, I also look at Spanish language YouTube children's shows. I have not finished the tree (I am around half way done).
I have one sister who has traveled extensively. Weather she was going to Italy, Cuba, France, etc she would also learn how to say "Please, thank you", and "what do you call this" in the native language, her claim was that making the effort and being polite got her a long ways. I have friend who knows no Spanish but has twice taken extensive visits (3-4 weeks) to San Miguel, Mexico where she had several conversations with a local woman who owns a restaurant. The local woman spoke only Spanish and my friend spoke only English. As long as they talked about cooking, they could understand each other. Many cooking terms are the same or very similar in both languages. (Oregano, coriander, chili in example.)
Me encanta tu experiencia. Uno nunca sabe que tanto habla un idioma hasta que lo pone a prueba! Con un poco mas de practica seguro que a la proxima ni se enteran de que el español no es tu idioma nativo :D
Most cities in the US have Spanish broadcast stations such as Univision and Telemundo, cable and satellite may have a few additional channels, such as HITN and ve-me and MEX, which are included in the English language package, (depending on your level). Listening to those is helpful, the novelas are great since they tend to have an actual beginning,middle and end to the story even if it continues for several episodes, unlike our soap operas, kids' shows, documentaries, etc. Also, read books in Spanish, when you go to a Mexican restaurant, try talking to the mesero or mesera in Spanish, look for opportunities to volunteer in areas where there are a lot of immigrants - hang around the local college and look for foreign students.
Yeh, I was thinking I might ask the local immigrant org if someone there might be willing to trade Spanish conversation for English. I don't have enough Spanish to actually be useful to them as an interpreter or anything yet. But I might be able to help someone who wants to learn but whose life doesn't put them around English speakers regularly.
Thanks! Trying to learn was a no brainer. I lived in Germany for a year and my life is so much richer for speaking German while being there, that I want to repeat the experience with Spanish.