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Old March 31, 2017, 04:51 PM
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wrholt wrholt is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 1,311
Native Language: US English
wrholt is on a distinguished road
I started learning Spanish more than 45 years ago, when I entered 9th grade and entered the first-year Spanish class at my high school. I was 13 years old. (My school offered first-year, second-year and third-year classes in French and Spanish on an alternating schedule, offering Spanish 1, French 2 and Spanish 3 one year, then French 1, Spanish 2 and French 3 the next year.)

I was one of the better students in my class, and earned the highest grade in my class on the comprehensive exam at the conclusion of the 3rd year. During the summer vacation immediately following completing the third year class, I traveled to Nicaragua to live with a same-age Nicaraguan young man and his family and accompany him to classes at his colegio.

I was basically lost for the first week trying to make out the words that people were speaking to me and feeling like my tongue and lips were fumbling constantly when I tried to speak. But gradually over the course of the 10 weeks I was there my ears and mouth caught on, and by the time I returned home I no longer was consciously translating my thoughts from English into Spanish when I tried to speak. I had also acquired a noticeable Nicaraguan accent in terms of pronunciation and some word and 2nd-person pronoun choices.

I was NOT perfect either at speaking or at listening, but I was extremely pleased with the level of oral/aural fluency that I had achieved, and I was ready to keep going. I continued to study Spanish during my university studies and had opportunities to speak Spanish in informal settings with fellow students from Spanish-speaking countries.

For a few years immediately after I completed my university studies I had a full-time job working for my university's department that teaches English as a Second Language to foreign-taught students who were studying English in order to become fluent enough to study in the USA. My fluency in Spanish was considered an asset when I was hired, and I frequently spoke in Spanish with current or prospective students and their families from Spanish speaking countries whose English skills were not yet strong enough.

In spite the improvements I have made in my aural/oral abilities, I still cannot avoid giving myself away as a second-language learner of Spanish at some point during an extended conversation, although during a brief conversation someone might think that I'm from a different country from them or that I'm slightly hard of hearing.

In short, it takes time and effort, and at 6 months into self-study you may actually be doing very well on an objective level, even though subjectively you may feel that you aren't getting anywhere.
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