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https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

To those who learned to speak Spanish (or any other language for that matter)

What for you has been the best way to learn conversational Spanish?

3 years ago

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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The ultimate question!

Best answer I can give is just don't be afraid. Take what you know, find someone that looks like they want to talk to you, and try and talk to them!

It really is not easy to begin with, there is no sugar coating it. You might feel awkward and terrified, but almost anyone will appreciate the fact that you are trying, because they can relate to how hard it is to start off in a foreign language, they have probably had the same experience themselves!

But you can really do a lot to build your confidence up on your own if you listen to Spanish radio and watch Spanish TV until you can make sense of everything that is going on, then you won't have to panic about not understanding what people are saying. The more books you read, the more TV shows your burn into your head, the more music you learn the words to, then the stronger you are able to feel when actually talking, it really is that simple. Being able to comfortably use a foreign language is just something that happens spontaneously inside you after you have drunk enough of it, because once you really understand something, it then becomes an inseparable part of you.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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That was beautifully put! :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

Thank you very much. So it seems to me that you really have to put yourself out there to really learn it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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Well, it takes time of course. But it is more like putting together a jigsaw, it is not always exactly hard, you just go piece by piece and then at one point you suddenly have it. You just have to find a way to make it work for you, rather than the other way around, I mean your brain will take in a lot more just watching dumb cartoons, than it will if you force yourself to do hours of textbook practice every day, because it wont be actively trying to switch off and wander somewhere else :).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

So motivation is key, then

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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Like many people, I had to get over the hurdle of being able to read and listen, but not speak. For me it was finally: 1) taking intensive (not just regular) classes where you had no option to speak English. and 2) moving to Mexico for a few months and taking every opportunity to speak . :) Learning to speak requires training yourself to react and think on the spot - find the right words as you need them. I would stop people on the street and ask for directions, often asking many different people for the same set of directions partially to see if I was getting the correct answer, but also just to ask a question that would get the other person talking more and allowed me to react to them speaking. :) Then I would listen carefully to others and learned to copy them a bit. :)

In German intensive classes we were immediately taught to speak basic sentences. What's cool about that is you basically instantly have a new language you must use. You start by being able to introduce yourself briefly, just like you would in your native language. This is the first step. With time we built those sentences and trained all aspects of them. We made lots of mistakes, but when you are at the same level as your peers, you work even harder outside of class than you do inside of class, and you have a caring and helpful teacher who carefully corrects your mistakes, you will improve - step by step. (I am still blown away I understand German, talk to people in German, mistakes and all, and get to laugh at funny things German speakers say.)

The biggest favor you can do for yourself (and the biggest shortcut to learning a language) is saving all the money you can scrap up for intensive classes. For me it was the fastest, most effective, and most satisfying way to learn a language. But now, after studying over many years, I can teach myself at least the beginner level of a language very, very well and for free if I put my mind to it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

Very interesting . . . So you learned German by taking intensive classes where speaking is required, and spanish by participating in Mexican culture and asking questions? How do you define "intensive classes"? I am going to take a Spanish course this summer (in class, not online) at a community college for starters, and would love to go out to mexico.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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That was a bit awkward the way I wrote that! I tried every which way to learn Spanish! :) Started trying on my own as an elementary school age kid from a little paper book I convinced my parents to buy at the grocery store, later took it in high school, then saved every cent I had to pay for a summer intensive class while at a university. In the intensive class I could finally speak! :) After all that. Then I moved to Mexico for fun for awhile. :) Too short an amount of time. So, I can speak it, but I don't practice it enough so it's rusty. I am sure that with just 3 months of living in a Spanish speaking country I'd be fluent. :) But for me the hardest part of Spanish was reading literature and feeling like I could really understand the emotions of it. For myself, I know intensive classes - many hours in a room with a teacher speaking the whole time in the learning language, along with the benefit of observing/interacting with fellow students, and having lots of homework is the only way I could pick up all the parts of learning another language to a high intermediate level. I hope I am wrong though, because right now I am trying to learn Turkish totally independently. :) Good luck to you!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chantalle.1

Your story is so interesting! Where in Mexico did you live? I've spent months in Puerto Vallarta, but didn't really learn very much because everyone wanted to practice their English with me and I was too timid to start random conversations with strangers. I think a huge part of it is pushing yourself to talk to people and not being afraid of making mistakes.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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Random strangers are the best to speak to! They will either immediately run away or help you out a lot! :D I was in Mexico City, but got to travel around to other cities/villages too.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chantalle.1

That is super cool actually! I wanted to visit Guadalajara, but everyone told me not to go and that it wasn't safe -- I wish I would have gone anyway. And I agree, I really enjoyed talking to locals, but it was always people who started conversations with me first (typically people who worked at the shops, as waiters, in the hotel etc). Next time I'm going to talk to everyone!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

Thank you very much for the clarification and beautiful story! This is very helpful/inspiring. I wish you the best in your learning.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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:) Thanks very much. Sorry it was so long! :) Oops!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

Long comments are good.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Teen_Polyglot

Watching telenovelas and chatting with natives worked perfectly for me.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chantalle.1

Any recommendations? I haven't been able to find a good one that wasn't terribly difficult to follow.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1
tnel1
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If you can't entirely follow it yet, then it is good for pronunication and basic words. I used to write down words that just looked interesting or were used frequently in such speech. :) That was great because then I could instantly understand and remember words I especially liked or found interesting. With German soaps I made a point to listen for things I was hearing in my grammar classes. For example, if you are learning all the words that start questions then try listening for how people ask questions. If you are learning pronouns, try listening for that aspect of speech. :) But I find it great to listen to the same set of speakers and watching a story develop because you have learning comprehension questions everyday! Why is so and so mad at his mom? Who is that person in love with and who is that person? :) Whose red sports car is that? :) You don't have to get it all, it to get a lot out of it. Simply training your brain to put up with sounds it does not understand is a huge help if you make it a habit! :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chantalle.1

Thanks for the reply! I suppose you're right -- it's just really boring watching something when you don't understand what's happening, but it is very good practice. If I can watch a telenovela or Spanish movie with Spanish subtitles it really helps. I don't have a hard time reading Spanish but hearing/listening is another thing.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

Thank you!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/S0R0USH
S0R0USH
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By having conversations with spanish people (strangers or people I know)... Luckily I live in a multicultural country :P.

I find it hard to understand Southern American accents (Argentina, Chile, sometimes columbian). Relative to other accents these are difficult.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rrlear
rrlear
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It would be interesting to see something about the "beginner friendliness" of different countries. I find Cubans nearly impossible to understand. For that matter, nearly impossible to pick out more than one or two words. Their speed can be impressive! On the other hand, the Cubans I've met seem very friendly and can be patient.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

Thank you . . . I am seeing a trend with the speaking with other people

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth261736

I've had opportunities to talk to Spanish-speaking people. Lacking that, I'd recommend a conversation course.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

Thank you!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/merlinblack256

I found a meet up group consisting of native Spanish speakers, others who had learnt before and were maintaining their skills, and finally people like me who are starting out. The one I go to meets once a week and we just chat about whatever comes up. :-)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/languagemonkey2

Thank you! Do they meet up to teach Spanish specifically or just talk? It sounds like a fun idea.

3 years ago