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How do you become fluent?

 

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  #1  
Old December 28, 2013, 07:00 PM
Wahooka Wahooka is offline
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How do you become fluent?

Hola todos!

I am trying to become fluent in Spanish.

Right now I can read a lot of Spanish and I know a lot of vocabulary, but I am not even close to being fluent.

What exactly is the journey to achieving fluency, or is there more then one path?

Thanks,
Wahooka
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  #2  
Old December 28, 2013, 07:38 PM
Mozzo Mozzo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wahooka View Post
Hola todos!
Right now I can read a lot of Spanish and I know a lot of vocabulary, but I am not even close to being fluent.
I would say true fluency is only possible by conversing in the language.

If you can't easily meet people to practice with, you can approximate that, by reading aloud as audio-books or podcasts are played. That at least gives your mouth and tongue the "motor memory" of speaking. Armed with the knowledge that your enunciation is good, you'll be less ashamed to try and use the language with people.

You can also listen to Spanish talk radio on the Internet in DeliCast, to get a feel for how "real people" speak as opposed to the polished enunciation that is on prepared material. Record some of that and mimic the "normal sounding" conversations they have with the hosts. Sports stations and religious stations are good starting points, because the subject matter is somewhat limited, and you will have a better sense of what is under discussion.

There are Spanish chat rooms on PalTalk. You can go there and just listen, then practice typing in chat mode, and then progress to speaking on the microphone when you are satisfied that you can compose thoughts faster than you can type them.

Last edited by Mozzo; December 28, 2013 at 07:45 PM.
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  #3  
Old December 28, 2013, 10:02 PM
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Villa Villa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wahooka View Post
Hola todos!

I am trying to become fluent in Spanish.

Right now I can read a lot of Spanish and I know a lot of vocabulary, but I am not even close to being fluent.

What exactly is the journey to achieving fluency, or is there more then one path?

Thanks,
Wahooka
Hola Wahooka,

Nobody really learns a second language very well in just a traditional classroom.
It's good as an addition to your learning but not and end to all ends. If you do take
a Spanish class make sure you record all the classes. You can record them right on
your phone. I have and still do.

You need to emerse yourself in Spanish. I for example watch 4 Spanish language soap operas every day 5 nights a week. I also watch TV in Spanish in the morning. I record programs in Spanish when I'm not home. Even on the week ends I watch TV in Spanish. Sabato Gigante with Don Francisco for example.
I live with a native Spanish speaker too that speaks to me only in Spanish. I speak back only in Spanish.

1. Get Spanish audio books and Spanish langugue programs and listen to them in your car every day on
your way to and from work or school.

2. Get Spanish songs on CD and listen to them in your car and at home.
Get the Spanish lyrics from the songs on the internet. Memorize the lyrics. Sing or speak the lyrics.

3. Even when you're on the computer listen to the radio or your Spanish language audio programs and Spanish music. If you're painting or doing house work listen to your Spanish programs or Spanish radio.

4. Listen to Spanish while at the gym. Talk to people in Spanish at the gym and out on the street.

5. Find Spanish speakers. I helped a man from Peru get his master's degree. He helped me with my Spanish. We got together every week.

6. Go to A.A. meetings where everything is in Spanish even if you don't drink. I did. You need to listen to Spanish a lot.

7. Start a Spanish language Meet Up group. Invite native Spanish
speakers that want to learn English and English speakers that want to
learn Spanish.

8. Make lots of flash cards. Spanish on one side, English on the other.

9. Get lots of books to learn Spanish at used book stores, garage sales
and off the internet.

10. Record native Spanish speakers speaking right on your cell phone.

11. Read Spanish out loud. This is one of the best things you can do
to become fluent and you never run out of something to say.

12. Remember that understanding well a language is more important
at first than speaking. Once you understand Spanish the words will just
flow out of your mouth without having to think. The way you learn to
understand Spanish is by listening to it a lot and putting time in studying
with flash cards books and coming on this Spanish forum.

All the above is part of the process of learning Spanish. If you enjoy and
have fun with the process you'll become fluent.

Last edited by Villa; December 28, 2013 at 10:27 PM.
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  #4  
Old December 29, 2013, 11:21 AM
Wahooka Wahooka is offline
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Thank you for your suggestions!

I like your suggestion number 6: go to AA meetings in Spanish

I have a question about listening to Spanish.

If you listen to a lot of Spanish but you don't understand or even catch a lot of what you're listening to, how does that help?

Simply listening will not help very much with the translation, right?

How do you listen in a productive way so that you are learning something?

Do you suggest Subtitles?
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  #5  
Old December 29, 2013, 11:41 AM
Mozzo Mozzo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wahooka View Post
If you listen to a lot of Spanish but you don't understand or even catch a lot of what you're listening to, how does that help?

Simply listening will not help very much with the translation, right?

How do you listen in a productive way so that you are learning something?
I think the best listening material is "just a little beyond your level". Understand 50% to 80% of it, and be able to identify the gaps and fill them in on successive listening (along with a dictionary).

I've spent a few months building up vocabulary and am getting to the point where I can listen to nursery rhymes and folk tales. When I find something that is beyond me, I just bookmark it in my browser and will try again later.

The telenovas don't work for me yet. I just sense that "somebody is mad at somebody else for some reason" It's a stream of words with little dots of understanding on common terms. Bla bla ... manaña ... bla bla ... mi novia ... bla bla bla

I'll probably work up through podcasts and childens educational films before tackling contemporary dramas. One good thing about adult study, is that you can tailor it to your own mental acuity and pace of learning.
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  #6  
Old December 29, 2013, 11:50 AM
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Listening will help you learn how the language sounds and you'll discover its cadence.
At first, you won't be able to understand a single thing. It'll be a stream of sounds. Some of the sounds will, over time, begin to stand out in your mind. You'll begin to recognize that they mean a specific thing.

Now, to answer your question about how to make listening productive, you can't just listen to Spanish to learn the language, although it's a VERY important step in your learning process. You didn't learn an English word until you heard it first. You shouldn't expect anything different about learning Spanish words.

You should, at some point during the listening exercise, ask questions about what you don't understand. This part involves another person.

¿Qué es ...? = What is ...?
¿Qué significa ...? = What does ... mean?
¿Qué quiere decir ...? = What does ... mean?
In each case, substitute what you heard but didn't understand.

When you're ready to start learning about the Spanish world around you, hang out with native speakers and ask, "¿Cómo se dice ...?" Substitute "eso" (that) or "esto" (this), or provide the English word/phrase if your interlocutor understands English.
Repeating a lot of what you're hearing is a very good exercise. When the native speaker replies, "Es un árbol," repeat their answer trying your utmost to exactly mimic the way the sentence was said.
If you would like to look up the word later, write it down. Ask your friend to spell it - "¿Cómo se deletrea?" (How's it spelled?). You may or may not get the right spelling, but you'll at least have a good idea. If you can't find it in the dictionary, write down some context and ask about the word/phrase here.

Last edited by Rusty; December 29, 2013 at 11:52 AM.
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  #7  
Old December 29, 2013, 03:46 PM
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chileno chileno is offline
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To me, the way to become fluent on all fronts, that is, thinking, writing, speaking and listening, is as follows:

Transcribe a novel, in your case assuming you are a native English speaker, from Spanish to Spanish (copy the novel).

As you do this, phrase by phrase, translate literally from Spanish to English

Once you have this translation, it will become apparent, say 98% of the time, that something is wrong if indeed it doesn't make sense in English. That being the case you accommodate the words that most likely will be the correct translation. Again, 98% of the time you will be right on that translation.

With this you will get to think in Spanish by understanding it in English. (Weird uh?)
But you will also will write stuff in Spanish without knowing grammar, just because that's the way it is written. You begin to acquire the written form by copying.

Once you understand the phrase, read Spanish out loud. If you don't know how a word is pronounced, then go to any online dictionary or translator and input the word and click on the speaker icon.

Do not be tempted to translate using an online translator, by doing that, even if it was a good translation, will not really help you. You need to do the exercise. Falling for this it would be the equivalent of reading on how to develop muscles by lifting weights, you are going to understand that perfectly, but I hope you don't expect to develop any muscles just by reading....

Once you have the correct Spanish pronunciation, read it out loud.

Start again.

Once a week watch a movie, either a Spanish movie or a movie that has the Spanish audio track. By doing this you will develop you listening skill and what Rusty explained in his reply will ensue, no doubt, but because it is a movie, which you will couple the action of what you are seeing with the actual spoken language, all will begin to make sense faster than just trying to understand a conversation, and trying to equate certain phrases that are pretty much the same in both languages, as Rusty also explained.

I recommend a novel of about 400 to 500 pages. I know it sounds like a lot, but actually it isn't. It has to be a novel that you would pick up if it were in English. In other words, something of your interest and that will keep up that interest in the novel. If you pick something for kids, thinking that the language level will be easier, most likely it will bore you to death and will not do anything. If that happens, most likely you will blame my system.

The movie also has to be one that you will not mind watching over and over, because you are not going to see another one until you understand all of what has been said in the movie.

If you do this, there is no way you will be able to say that you don't understand Spanish, after going thru a 500 pages novel and movie.

Once you understand Spanish and can write complex phrases (read Subjunctive, usage of para/por etc) you will not be able to explain why you chose those words, other than "that's the way it is done". Then you can take on Spanish grammar, but then if you don't know your grammar and pretty much you express and write the way you do, because "that's how it is supposed to be" then I would recommend you to either, start English grammar and once you understand your grammar start the Spanish one, or do not start anything grammar.

See?

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Old December 29, 2013, 06:11 PM
Wahooka Wahooka is offline
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Chileno: Great idea to transcribe a novel! This will involve looking up A LOT of words in the dictionary and learning a lot of vocabulary. As far as watching a Spanish movie, do you recommend using Spanish subtitles, English subtitles, or neither?

Mozzo: How do you find the right materials to listen to that are just above your level? Unfortunately, ALL the Spanish tv channels are too high a level. Are there certain podcasts you recommend?

Rusty: "Que quiere decir" literally translates to "what you like to say"... If I heard that phrase I would never guess it means "What does X mean?" I take your word for it

Last edited by Wahooka; December 29, 2013 at 06:35 PM.
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  #9  
Old December 29, 2013, 07:14 PM
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Wahooka:

My answer is: I go to the library, if I want to read. Would that suffice?

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Old December 29, 2013, 08:51 PM
Wahooka Wahooka is offline
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Originally Posted by chileno View Post
Wahooka:

My answer is: I go to the library, if I want to read. Would that suffice?

I will try your technique, but it seems very idealistic!

I can imagine myself getting very stuck on certain scenes or words.

I would be tempted to get a translation for the parts I couldn't understand,
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