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Tips for learning

 

Teaching methodology, learning techniques, linguistics-- any of the various aspect of learning or teaching a foreign language.


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  #1  
Old July 20, 2014, 03:51 PM
ChristineS ChristineS is offline
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Tips for learning

Hello everyone
I have just joined the forum and spent today reading many posts. I am 34yo from uk and hope to move to Spain in a year or so with my family (2young boys). I spend a lot of time there at present but I am ashamed to say I only have very basic spanish and whenever I try to speak Spanish I often get replies in English!
Having read some posts it seems programmes like Rosetta Stone are not very highly regarded?
What are the best ways to learn quickly? I need to be able to talk, shopping, chit chat etc...and also understand the replies which seem so fast to me.
Next time I visit will be in three months time for three weeks.
Thanks
Christine
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  #2  
Old July 21, 2014, 02:24 AM
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There are already several threads about this topic. I'd personally never spend much money for any language learning book or program. There are various grammar books that explain everything you need for the beginning that are worth the money (10€-30€).
Many people commented about Rosetta Stone that it isn't worth it. Eventually it's up to you. I don't really think that there are any ways to learn a language quickly, it rather depends on the person itself.
That's just my humble opinion and many may tell you differently.
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I'd be very thankful, if you'd correct my mistakes in English/Spanish.

Last edited by Premium; July 21, 2014 at 02:26 AM.
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  #3  
Old July 21, 2014, 10:37 AM
Manuel Manuel is offline
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I agree with Premium about courses, in the sense that I wouldn't put all my trust in one. I think it's best to always remain critical and see what would work best for YOU. Everyone's needs are different so no course could possibly be a perfect fit for everyone. Having said that, when you are a beginner it's not easy to know WHAT you need in the first place!

I would definitely recommend browsing some more posts in this subforum (the teach & learning one) because several people (including myself) have given lots of tips on learning Spanish. Check them out and see if they appeal to you, then try them out!

If you are a complete beginner I do think it's useful to have a method to set you off on a good start, but I also think it's very important to do things on your own that the method doesn't cover. I explain it in my other posts here, so if you are interested, check them out.

Premium said that he thinks there aren't any ways to learn a language quickly, and I would agree in the sense that no matter HOW you learn it, it will always take plenty of time and effort. There's no getting around that. But I also think that there are certainly differences in the degree of efficiency of the method employed. Some methods will certainly take you LONGER than others. For example, I personally think that learning new words by memorizing words from a list, or from a bunch of word cards etc. is highly inefficient and/or ineffective. The reason for that is that you are not immediately APPLYING what you learn, which means you will quickly forget it again.

I think an important rule of thumb in learning a new language (and for learning ANYTHING, for that matter!) is to IMMEDIATELY apply whatever new thing you learn, whether it is a new word, a new grammatical construction etc. HOW to apply everything you learn is a whole different subject in itself, but I would recommend you always keep this in mind.

One tip I will give you here:

Focus on learning vocabulary through topics that interest you naturally. Do you like fashion? Read the Spanish Vogue or Elle or whatever. Are you interested in traveling? Read Spanish travel websites. Do you like to go to the movies? Visit Spanish movie review websites etc. etc.

This way you will learn a lot of words that you will want to USE in your daily conversations because they will be about topics that you like to talk about.

I have done this myself a lot. I paid attention in my daily life regarding which topics my vocabulary was severely lacking and then thought about where to find information in Spanish about it. For example, I realized at one point I didn't know any of the terms regarding mobile phones and the subcriptions for it etc. so I looked up at few Spanish phone shops and started to learn the terminology there. You can do this for any topic you would like to know more about: do you need to know more banking terms? Visit the website of a major Spanish bank. Do you need to know more terms related to food? Look up Spanish restaurant websites or restaurant review sites. Want to know the Spanish word for many household items? Go to the website of the Spanish department store El Corte Inglés etc. etc. The possibilities are endless!

Besides this and studying your method, I also highly recommend to READ a little Spanish daily. Even when your Spanish is very limited you can still read. You can start off by reading children's books, they are often highly entertaining, I think!

And lastly of course, it helps a lot to practice SPEAKING and LISTENING to Spanish.

With regard to listening and being a beginner, I don't think it's all that important if you don't understand most of what you hear in the beginning. It's important to expose yourself to the SOUND of Spanish a lot, even if you don't know what they're saying. Important changes will be going on beneath the surface while you listen and one day it all comes together and your comprehension suddenly improves markedly. There are many options for listening to Spanish: Spanish movies, Youtube videos with Spanish language (there are plenty with English subtitles too!), Spanish radio (can be listened to live via the internet), Spanish audiobooks (you can also download via internet), music with Spanish lyrics (like salsa etc.)

With regard to speaking Spanish, I wrote another post about that, see here.

Good luck with learning Spanish.
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  #4  
Old July 21, 2014, 11:01 AM
ChristineS ChristineS is offline
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Thank you for your advice, I particularly like the idea of reading spanish vogue
I will definitely get some spanish radio on too because I listen to the radio all the time anyway.
I am in awe of you who speak a second or third language so fluently!
Thanks again
Christine x
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  #5  
Old July 21, 2014, 11:55 AM
Manuel Manuel is offline
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Quote:
I am in awe of you who speak a second or third language so fluently!
Aww thanks. But it took me many years to get to this point. My native language is Dutch, but I started learning English at ten years old when my mom started teaching me. Then of course I learned English in school, but I didn't really improve much until AFTER school.

When I look back on it now, I think I learned all my English through the following methods:

1. I read a TON of books in English, mostly non-fiction about topics that interest me (and almost EVERYTHING interests me!) I think that's one reason why I increased my vocabulary a lot: I read about so many DIFFERENT topics. Every topic uses completely different vocabulary. The reason I read so many books in English is that the Netherlands is a small country and the simple fact is that no matter what topic you are interested in, chances are that in English a lot more interesting books have been written about it than there have been in Dutch! Simply because the English-speaking population in the world is so much greater than the Dutch-speaking population, so that the people outside of the Netherlands who have contributed to any field are often more brilliant than the Dutch ones. I have read books about aviation, psychology, economics, travel, maths, spirituality, martial arts, yoga, cooking, music, business, you name it! Every topic has added different English words to my vocabulary, so I feel very comfortable talking about any of these topics now. It's all due to reading, so I highly highly recommend you read as much as possible and ESPECIALLY about as WIDE a variety of topics as possible. Magazines are GREAT. Not just Vogue (as you seem to be into that ) but also general interest magazines like Reader's Digest. They have nice stories and that magazine is available in dozens of languages. National Geographic is another great magazine.

2. In the Netherlands we watch a lot of English and American TV and movies with the original English language (and Dutch subtitles). I think this has helped a lot with learning colloquial language! The problem with language courses is that they teach you very little colloquial language, except the very basic stuff. Things like slang, of course, but also a lot of very common expressions that use typical idiomatic grammatical constructions etc. TV and movies are a great source of this type of language. So when you hear the original language in your own country with subtitles it's very useful. That's why I recommend watching Youtube videos in Spanish (there are also many mainstream Hollywood movies or standup comedy videos in English with Spanish subtitles on Youtube. You might start there.) Another great thing to watch would be Spanish soap operas! Since you are a woman, I will venture out on a limb and assume you like soaps <ducks>. Why not check out a few Spanish (or latin-american) soaps? I personally can't stand them,lol, but then again, I am a guy, so what do you expect?

3. Another thing that really helped my English, I think, is chatting online. I did that a lot in the 80's when chatting was still popular online. I was on this provider called Compuserve and they hosted chatrooms for Compuserve members. I was on there all the time chatting with people from all over the world and always in English, mostly with people from the UK and the USA. That greatly improved my English too. Obviously, talking in the foreign language is one of the best ways to improve. So I also highly recommend you get someone to practice with. You don't necessarily have to chat, email works great too. And if you can't find anyone to talk to, talk to yourself as I mention in my other posts.

4. Here's the number one thing, though, that I think has made me reach the level I'm at right now: Every day I tried to improve just a little bit! So many people don't do this. They say they want to learn to master something and then they start learning but at some point they just accept the level they're at and no longer consciously try to improve much.

If you want to be really good at something, don't look at your end goal and think "Oh my god, I have so much to learn! I get discouraged just looking at the road ahead." Just focus on improving a LITTLE BIT EACH DAY. If you improve just 1% every day for a whole year, how much do you think you've improved in one year? It's not 365% because every procent stacks on top of the previous one! Don't focus on your end goals all the time because it will just discourage you. All you have to do is focus on improving a little bit each day and do that every day. Just learn something new every day, even if it's a very small thing, it doesn't matter; just one new word, one new distinction, one new way to use something. If you just keep adding and adding to your knowledge, eventually you will be arrive at your destination.

Can't form many complex sentences in Spanish yet? No problem, just learn ONE simple thing today! One new word, one new grammatical construction, one idiomatic phrase, one typical beginner's pitfall, whatever it is, and immediately USE it by thinking with it to yourself in Spanish TODAY.

Then....do the same thing all over again tomorrow and every day after that.

If you do this, I guarantee that in three months from now you will be pretty pleased with your results!
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  #6  
Old July 22, 2014, 11:08 AM
ChristineS ChristineS is offline
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Wow thanks Manuel that's really encouraging! I DO like the idea of watching the Spanish soaps
It is in my nature to want things 'right now' which is why I get frustrated learning a language because it is such a slow process but your reply really motivates me, thanks!
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  #7  
Old July 22, 2014, 01:26 PM
Manuel Manuel is offline
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I know how you feel, I also like to have everything right now, but unfortunately that's not how life works. Remember, though, anything that's really worth having requires a lot of time and effort. That's what MAKES it worth having! The fact that you had to put in a lot of time and effort means that you have achieved something that not everyone else has, BECAUSE it took all that time and effort (which not everyone will want to expend, therefore they can't do what you CAN.)

You have to be very careful with this "wanting something for nothing" attitude. The only things you can have "right now" are things that don't require a lot of effort. But the things that are really meaningful in your life WILL require time and effort and that's ok. The biggest problem is not that things require time and effort and may be difficult; it's that people don't WANT it to be difficult! But here's the thing most people don't realize: as soon as you ACCEPT that it will require time and be difficult, it no longer matters. Because then you will simply succumb to the fact that it will be hard work and start DOING the work without complaining and that's when you get off the fence and go down the road and start achieving.

So just realize that yes, it will be hard work, and you will need to put in the time and effort, but if you just ACCEPT that and work WITH it instead of fighting it you will improve every day and you can also have FUN while learning! Just because it requires effort doesn't mean you can't have fun while learning.

I highly recommend you practice speaking with someone, whether online, through email or in person, because then you have a REASON for learning everything you're learning. A place to put everything into practice. Because if you just learn a bunch of things without using it in conversation with people it's very easy to lose motivation, but when you have a place where you can use everything you learn you will be much more motivated to learn new things.

I'd be happy to talk with you in Spanish through email, if you like. I'm half Spanish myself, not a native speaker, though, but I could start you off, if you want. Or find yourself a native Spanish speaker if you prefer, plenty of people to find here, I'm sure! Just let me know.
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  #8  
Old July 22, 2014, 02:56 PM
ChristineS ChristineS is offline
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Thank you that would be great, I have sent you a private message with my email
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