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Thread: Best way to learn Spanish?

  1. #1
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    Best way to learn Spanish?

    I decided to winter in Equidor after my work schedule is caught up, about December, so I have three months to learn Spanish, at least enough to get me by when I first get there. I am about 50 miles from Canada and there are no spanish speaking people close by that I know of so I must do it on my own.

    Would love to hear suggestions. I googled it and there are a lot of choices, I need the best method first, short on time....

    Thanks

  2. #2
    I get a few Spanish language channels with my cable. There were two adventure shows I got slightly hooked on. I watched enough that I was picking up some Spanish and I got a Spanish-English dictionary. Now there are some great free aps available for smart phones that translate for you. And you can look up words for English equivalents as well. However, there is nothing like immersion to force you to learn a language. Not all Spanish is the same. Cuban Spanish is actually Castillano, an odd dialect of Spanish with some different pronunciations.
    . Just like English varies from region to region and country to country.

  3. #3
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    There might be some adult community education classes in your area, that would be starting about now. It helps to hear other people pronounce the words. I like to get one of the boxed set of CDs and listen to them while commuting. Sams Club has them cheap. Pimsleur is a good brand. I've tried the online courses like Babel and Rosetta and just can't commit to the time to do that.

  4. #4
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    Larry,
    check out Babbel, they have online courses that vary in length and price, as well there's an introductory section that lets you try it for free.

  5. #5
    That's going to be tough. I think the basic sections of Rosetta Stone are ok. They are very strong on accent and pronunciation as opposed to learning words.

    My wife and I took a basic Spanish course at the local community college which was very helpful.

    I've made a number of trips to Honduras and learned most of the Spanish I know is through interaction with people who are willing to teach.

  6. #6
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    My wife went to Ecuador last year and says that it is not hard to find English speaking folks, in the touristy areas at least.

    As a note of interest, the currency used there is officially the American dollar, which they adopted some time ago after the country went bankrupt, so you will have no problem there.

    Be sure to go to one of the places right on the Equator where you can see some interesting phenomenon, like being able to balance an egg on the small end without tipping over, water draining, etc.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Engel View Post
    That's going to be tough. I think the basic sections of Rosetta Stone are ok. They are very strong on accent and pronunciation as opposed to learning words.
    I know a family who all learned Spanish from Rosetta Stone before moving to Spain for a few years. But I think they spent more than three months, probably a year or two. I think much depends on your age, how flexible your brain is, and how good your memory is for words and grammar. I studied Spanish for three years in school when as a teenager and it was not hard. Fifty years later my memory strongly opposes storing new language elements.

    The best way, I hear, is with immersion - go and take a dictionary. And hope for plenty of English-speaking people. I use a translator app when traveling in Italy.

    JKJ

  8. #8
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    I used to manage employees in Spanish-speaking countries, and had trouble picking up Spanish, despite having no trouble learning other languages. I believe it was because I have so many friends that speak Spanish, so I'm more self-conscious that I would say something wrong. One quick way to learn is to get a Spanish-speaking girlfriend, but aside from that, try the Rosetta Stone series, and start watching Spanish videos- any show or movie- and it helps if it has subtitles, but it doesn't have to. Just try to pick out words and learn that word, then try to learn another. I can hear Spanish and understand a full conversation, but still have trouble formulating the words on my own. I now work with all Dominican nationals, so I'm around Spanish a lot. In Ecuador you will find that many people speak English, but the best thing is to try first Speaking Spanish, and let them know you're trying, and they will help you.

    By the way, don't pet the blue frogs in Ecuador- very poisonous. Also, take my advice and get your Hepatitis shot. Hep A is common there. I picked it up in Peru. Note: Hep A is not the one you get from hookers and drugs- it's the one you get from eating contaminated food. I always have to tell people that because when you say you had Hep A, they immediately think the other. That said, it means you ate food contaminated with poop, so it's still kinda not something I like to think about.

  9. #9
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    Get a girlfriend (now) that doesn't speak one word of English. Seriously, having been there done that, I think the only way you're going to learn Spanish in three months is total immersion in a Spanish-speaking environment (like Southern California). Also, buy a good Spanish-English dictionary and a book titled 501 Spanish Verbs. Buena suerte!

  10. #10
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    Press 2 on your phone

  11. #11
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    I've spent the better part of 3 weeks in Miami - not the touristy parts. Spanish seems the defacto language among the working class there. Most understand enough english to be able to communicate but among themselves, spanish.

  12. #12
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    IMHO, your best bet is to do a combination of things...use a basic self-study course that emphasizes repetition (we did that when we needed to learn some basic Russian prior to adopting our girls), get a phrase book with useful common phrases and commit the most important to memory, take the opportunity to use those basics at places like restaurants and retail stores, etc., and if you carry a smartphone, get utilities that help with translation, etc. There are some really good apps available these days. And when you are using even a small amount of the language, pay particular attention to words and phrases that express appreciation and convey the basics...expressing thanks, asking things like where are important places such as restrooms, etc. Keep adding to your vocabulary and phrases. I general, you CAN mix Spanish and English in most places successfully, particularly for basics.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
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    Ha, some of you guys underestimate my resolve!

    I have been hitting Dualingo hard, they say 50 xp a day in points on the high side, I have been doing 400-800, repeating the words as I hear them. I have to order some cd's to complete the immersion, not sure about the sleep ones as I roll constantly, but I am dreaming in Spanish about half the time as it is. I don't plan on being a Spanish professor in three months, but I do not want to spend my time in tourist areas so need to be self sufficient. I may even get a job down there just to get a better feel, something besides woodwork.

    Malcolm, good points and I will do as you advise. My wife did leave for shallow waters over a year ago so the suggestions of a new mujer are not out of the question.

  14. #14
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    Hola Larry, so sorry about your wife.
    I don’t underestimate your resolve but..... learning Spanish on your own in three months regardless of what method(s) you try will most likely not work. Hard work will certainly help you prepare but it takes immersion in a Spanish speaking country for success and even then it will be a tough go.
    I am writing this from Bogota Columbia. I have been flying to South/Latin America for nearly 20 years and in the last 4 years I have been in either Bogota or Quito Ecuador every single week. I have had girlfriends in Buenos Aires (when I was single), taken Spanish lessons weekly while in Quito, have studied using Duolingo and I am still far from a Spanish speaker. The problem is hearing a Spanish speaker well enough for you to decipher and understand what they are saying. Because native speakers don’t sound like Duolingo. They speak way way faster. To me, I can barely hear separate words that are spoken.
    My advice, learn the main verbs and the rules of conjugation. Like others have said, get a girlfriend down here. Some of the prettiest women in the world are Latin. They love American men and have little regard for your age. She will need to speak a fair amount of English or it will be pretty frustrating. In Quito, there are many language schools.
    One more thing, you mentioned you didn’t want to spend a lot of time in tourist areas. You probably already know this but a gringo anywhere in South/Latin America pretty much has a target on his back. Mostly muggings and theft of your watch, wallet, and numero uno.... your cellphone. Be smart, and be careful.
    Good luck amigo.

  15. #15
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    Thanks John! I was thinking that takeing some classes while I am down there would be a huge help. Part of my problem with learning is I am about on the Canadian border and do not know anyone here that speaks Espanol, but I want to go down and see how the ordinary people live and work. I work for the rich and the useless and am not wanting to spend my vacation surrounded by the same people.

    Interestingly, I mentioned going to one of my favorite customers and he said he wanted to buy down there but did not care for the quality of the homes in Ecuador, and wanted to know if I would be interested in building one for him there. Hmmm...

    I figured Duolingo was just a convenient stepping stone, I listen to Spanish speakers on the net every few days to check how I am progressing, and yeah, I have a lot of work to do.

    I assimilate very easily to different locals and speech patterns, in Ingles, so I am hoping to do the same but in a different language. I will be careful, figured on basically just riding around on the buses the first while, listening and seeing the different parts of the country. Have always had a bug to stick my toe in the Amazon as well. Galapagos will probably be a different trip, but who knows, not one for carved in stone itineraries. What would be the best "Look" to assume to avoid unwanted attention?

    I use a flip phone, but I did read that it is better just to buy a throwaway once you get there. The only thing I will have with me that I do not want to lose is my life, I travel light.

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