I never took a spanish language class in my life. wish I did in middle/high school. I know some phrases and little stuff but how long would it take for me to learn spanish and become fluent?

are their different levels of spanish? like basic, intermediate?

Posted on August 20, 2007


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It all depends on you. Do you plan on taking lessons? If so, how many hours a week? Or, do you plan on moving to a Spanish speaking country and learning as you go? There are too many factors to consider, I can't give you an answer without knowing your attentions and learning ability. Si mi entiende

Posted on August 20, 2007


Hi Pacsun,
I have been learning Spanish for nearly a year part time, I guess I have done 150-200 hrs in total. Unfortunately running a business doesn't give me a lot of time. I am a very very long way from becoming fluent. I find the verbs in Spanish difficult.. Living in Medellin with a g/f who speaks zero english means I get plenty of practice though...

Posted on August 20, 2007


It depends...are you looking into learning while in Colombia or just by taking classes? Yes, there are different levels. Learning by immersion is the fastest way to learn any language and the younger you are will also play a roll in how quick you can learn. When I was 16, I was an exchange student in Ecuador. I lived with a Spanish spaeking family and went to school in Spanish. It took about 9 months for me to be fluent and I am a very slow learner with languages.

Posted on August 20, 2007


If you associate with predominantly Spanish speaking people, study the grammar of the language, and make a concerted effort to speak as much as possible (all the time, complete immersion) 4 months will do it.

Posted on August 20, 2007


I have a lot of time on my hands. planning on going to classes in america and in colombia. I will do whatever it takes to learn this beautiful language. I don't want to seem like a dumb tourist, I actually want to speak some spanish and not look like an idiot.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Although this depends a lot of your definition of "fluent".

Fluent as in "A native speaker of Spanish would think that you are also a native speaker"? If you are learning as an adult this will probably never happen.

Fluent as in "Able to converse with whomever about whatever without any difficulties or (major) inaccuracies"? At least a year, even with the most intensive study/practice routines.

Fluent as in "More or less able to chat about most topics and understand most of what is said to you"? Working hard at it, a few months.

Immersion is indeed the best way to learn - but it is also immensely stressful! Not to mention, in many cases, impractical and quite expensive.

Plus, "fluency in a language" includes different genres and registers of that language. It is all very well being able to chat with people down the bar, or debate with your girlfriend about which fabric softener to use, but this is only one side of it. Can you write a cover letter in Spanish? Understand every word in a newspaper? Teach philosophy in Spanish? Understand what someone from Cartagena is saying?

Being fluent, to me, is multi-faceted - and being "truly fluent" very hard indeed. I have met very few completely bilingual (English and Spanish) people - and they did not study one of the languages as a second language, rather they grew up with Spanish and English at home together.

I didn't mean for this message to sound quite as negative as it does! Of course it is possible to have a good working knowledge of Spanish after a few months - it just pays to be realistic.

:)

Posted on August 20, 2007


no no, leeroy. I just want to speak spanish good enough for people to understand me. I'm a fast learner so it might take me 6 months to a year.

Posted on August 20, 2007


after five years "me defeno"

Posted on August 20, 2007


Depends. I've been living in medellin for 7 months and don't think I'm even close to fluent. Although I teach english here and most of my friends are other english teachers that love to keep practicing their english so most of the day I only speak english. I think it depends on your motivation though because people learn at different rates. For example some of the english students here in medellin are somewhat fluent after a year, some take 2 or even 3 years. Even some of the english teachers after teaching for 10 years have questions or make small mistakes. I'm happy to say that after 7 months of living in colombia I can go downtown without a dictionary! That being said, I don't understand anything in spanish unless it is spoken very slowly.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Pacsun - sounds about right. Good luck!

Posted on August 20, 2007


Good post, Leeroy.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Thanks Miguel.

How people learn languages is of interest to me, as I was an ESL instructor for 6 years (CELTA & DELTA), I have a BA in Modern Languages (English and Spanish) and am doing a Masters in Education in Applied Linguistics. I lived in Spain for 2 years, and llevo one year here in Colombia. To my horror, my Spanish is not close to perfect.

I fall into the "can chat in the bar and talk with girlfriend about which fabric softener to use" category. I can watch soap operas and get it, and rarely have problems while out shopping or playing tejo. Indeed, my "informal spoken Spanish" is pretty good.

But, I quote today's newspaper:

"en el mercado hay mas competencia por las captaciones a plazo, lo cual genera alzas de las tasa de interes"

Captaciones?
Alzas?
What's the difference between "lo cual" and "lo que"?

I couldn't speak on the phone to a Paisa about the intricate details of my broadband connection, nor deliver a speech to anthropologists about the etymology of English phrasal verbs in Spanish. I have no idea how CVs (resumes) are structured in Spanish, nor do I understand the "street slang" of the Bogota underclass. I have yet to understand a single thing that any Cartagenero says to me, and I have to squint and lean forward while pricking my ears up to get the jist of what an Argentinian says to me.

It would be easy for me (and others like me) to say "I am fluent, because whenever I speak/listen in Spanish I have no problems" - but that would be only looking at one side of the story. There is a lot more to learn, and from here on, things start to get trickier...

Posted on August 20, 2007


elmo, you're quite the character.

Posted on August 20, 2007


It depends on your motivation, in '99 I started working in colombia and met a nice girl and I really couldn't do my job date the girl until I spoke spanish decently. I studied 2-3 hours a day for 4 months and was fluent enough to talk on the phone in about 5 months. I bought several cd courses and about 6 different books, the best course is the Barron's foreign service. http://www.amazon.com/Barrons-Mastering-Spanish-Foreign-Institute/dp/0812073258
(it's more expensive but it's worth it, buy it on CD)

the best book I found was "Practical Spanish" by Wiley
http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Spanish-Grammar-Self-Teaching-Guides/dp/0471134465/ref=sr_1_1/105-9668735-6698061?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1187626205&sr=1-1

You need both the grammer and the cd course. My spanish is pretty good, unless i'm speaking with someone from west venezuela or Argentina, then I'm left wondering, "was that spanish?".

Posted on August 20, 2007


some software I saw was called "rosetta stone" I don't know if that is a good language program or not. I live in phoenix, AZ. my mexican friend erica taught me some spanish but I havent talked to her in a while. that would be the first person I would practice and talk to when I do learn spanish.

Posted on August 20, 2007


The best way to learn Spanish is in bed.......that is always the best and easiest classroom......now the teacher depends on how many pesos you have and the deal with the pre-pagos!!!!

Posted on August 20, 2007


Leeroy is right.....conversing and communicating is one thing, fluency is totally a different beast. The learning curve will be rapid at first and as you progress is slows to trickle unless you are a natural for languages. One tip I would say is, concentrate on the pronunciation ,it is almost everything.If you have the rhythm of the language you will learn the words more easily. There is no point knowing phrases if you cannot be understood.Also have confidence to speak and do not be put off by ¿que? , no entiendo, as you will hear that a lot! Good Luck
Also I think Leeroy has another good point, sometimes you converse well with someone ,other times it is very difficult to make the simplest conversation to be understood. I think some people can tune into your accent quickly others find this tuning very difficult.

Posted on August 20, 2007


I took french for 2 years and it wasn't that hard to pick up. I also learned german but forgot everything! learning spanish won't be a problem for me. it's the rapid lightspeed on telenovela that I have a problem with.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Interesting, informative and hilarious comments!

West Venezuelan Spanish sounds to my ear like North Coast of Colombia Spanish.
I was watching a Shakira video yesterday and she has for sure has got that Argentina accent going big time.
My ability to understand a paisa is getting pretty good via phone conversations/emails with a girl living in Medellín, but born in the sticks of Antióquia (Urrao). These days her accent does not sound so thick to me.
Now when it comes to Cuban Spanish...I have several good Cuban friends in my city and every now and then, they have parties when relatives and/or friends who have just arrived in the USA pay them a visit. It's very hard to hang with their Spanish until we start drinking, dancing, and playing domino. That seems to level the playing field.

Y mil grácias a mi cuadro elmodofoque por su cumplidos sobre mi español corroncho. ¡Mátame chucha y a mi me importa un jopo! ¡Mondas!

Posted on August 20, 2007


" remember Mario told me about a Spanish course that he had that was supposed to be quite good. It was supposedly used by government agencies like the CIA and FBI. He said it was expensive but very good. Since he hasn't been posting lately, I will ask him about it when I get a chance."

That's the Pimsleur course. It's good and it helped me, but other posters have had good things to say about the Rosetta Stone program as well.

Posted on August 20, 2007


There is no set time on how quickly to learn spanish It is all up to the person and how much time they dedicate to learning the language. como se quita esta vaina the "newbie"?

Posted on August 20, 2007


Steer clear on learning the word, comb, fraught with danger unless your pronunciation is spot on !!!

Posted on August 20, 2007


"Took French for 2 years and it wasn't hard to pickup"? I know a lot of people who try to learn French and after years of full-time lessons still can't speak.
Either you're a talented linguist or you're fooling yourself. How many languages do you speak fluently? Do you speak any latin language?

Posted on August 20, 2007


watching novelas is another great way to "study", if you're watching on directtv you can put the close captioning on english and listen in spanish. "Neuvo rico nuevo pobre" is pretty funny, tacones de eva was pretty good, but I think the writers ran out of material it seems to have tapered off.

"I'm not addicted to novelas, I'm studying!"

Posted on August 20, 2007


los cubanos no hablan español, hablan epañol.

Posted on August 20, 2007


JChrisusa use to speak german when I was like 13-14 not anymore. once I left high school I stopped learning french all together but I could speak it well. you might think I'm crazy but I just pick up things quickly!

Posted on August 20, 2007


never learned a latin language. JChrisusa

Posted on August 20, 2007


If you spoke French, you spoke a Latin language. They are very similar and if you pickup up French easily, Spanish will probably be easier. If you were able to learn French in two years of HS and speak well (conversational French) Then I would think that it would take you a couple of months living full-time in Colombia maybe 3 or 4 (taking classes and everything).
French and Spanish are very similar languages, (Except I believe French is harder). You can use that to give yourself an idea of how hard and how much time you will need.

Posted on August 20, 2007


what I meant was I havent learned a latin language besides french. thanks JC!

Posted on August 20, 2007


A very practical way to study would be going to any local bar in the Coastal region around 2:00 pm, you will come out of there wise beyond your years.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Pacsun there are over 1300 words almost the same in English and Spanish only difference is pronunciation.....so who have a good start..like i said before ...its all in the way you say them!! pronunciation or pronunciacion

Posted on August 20, 2007


Morrongo, I love your handle ha ha ha.

Posted on August 20, 2007


morrongo, that's something else I noticed. a lot of words are similar.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Gracias,Colombiche igualmente , pero soy Morrongo honesto !!!!!

Posted on August 20, 2007


I´ve been trying to teach spanish to my fiance for 2 months every day for 2 hours, and its difficult, he doesn´t understand why we have (tu, ti, te, nosotros and nos) and many many others, well all I can say is that he can have a short conversation and probably in 3 years he will be fluent, speaking every day with me.

I was thinking maybe start teaching spanish on MSN, for not much money, any candidate?

Posted on August 20, 2007


French is of very little help in learning Spanish other than learning any language helps you to learn another one. I could list so many linguistic qualities of French that are different from Spanish it would make your head spin. French developed as a separate language hundreds of years before the other Romance languages and as such it developed its own quite different path. I know Spanish speakers who can easily understand Italian and Portuguese but when it comes to French they are lost. I grew up in Montreal and I can't remember a single instance where knowing a French word (like "mot" for example) helped with the Spanish equivalent ("palabra").

Posted on August 20, 2007


I have been in Colombia for about 8 month I have learned about 12 words and phrases. I have not began studying. You can learn spanish quickly if you have the desire.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Depends on a lot of factors. Your age for instance, the older you are, the more difficult it will be. There are 207 muscles in your cabeza and most are pretty well formed after 15-18 years of age so that's a minus for Adults learning a foreign langauge period as far as having a neutral accent. Try unforming 207 muscles!! Depends on the Teacher and his/her teaching methodology. Depends on whether or not the Conversation aspect was intensive(total immersion) or if you are placed in a class of students with mixed abilities. Depends if you are in an Enviroment where after class you have the oppurtunity to practice the spanish you studied earlier in the day as if you studied in a Spanish speaking country and could practice later in the street or with a Spanish family you stayed with during your Schooling. I took my first lessons in 1988, Total Immersion style in Guadalajara, Mexico for 2 months. Next I completed the US Langauge Defense Institute Course, Phase one. A lot of this course was repitition of the Alphabet and while it was Boring, it was a great help. If you cannot pronounce the Alphabet, how can you pronounce the Words correctly? Most Spanish Courses, college and otherwise, are woefully lacking on this aspect of spanish langauge instruction. Next I completed Spanish 1 and 2 through the Florida University system ;great for Grammar but lacking sinfully on Conversation but hey,you need grammar. Next and most helpful, I visited patients daily in their Miami area Homes who speak NO English at all for a period of 3 years, I have had to converse with them daily. Sometimes working in little havana and Hialeah, I feel like I'm not in the USA, No Lie! Great for learning Spanish, terrible for friends I have there who want to learn English. Everybody speaks Spanish. No set rule really on how long to achieve fluency and what is your definition of Fluency? Ask 3 different people and you will have 3 different answers. In my mind complete Fluency(bilingual) means you Speak, Write and Think in the 2nd langauge you are attempting to master. If you are living in Colombia and you set your mind to it, you shoud be able to have a fair grasp of Spanish, Conversation wise, to function in society and defend yourself.

Posted on August 20, 2007


I was think about buying a foreclosed condo in little havana, but no english it is a big problem. They want 250K for a two bedroom unit in a hotel. Is little havana in America?

Posted on August 20, 2007


250K for a foreclosed Condo in a Hotel? That is pretty unusual in Miami, depends on the sq footage and to what extent they upgraded the Unit. Many of these Miami Area Condo Conversions consist of nothing more then a Fresh coat of paint, new carpets or tile and NO work on the most important areas like Wiring and Plumbing upgrades. Lots of problems with them after the fact(purchase). I wonder what the exact address is,,,Well if you want to learn Spanish, albeit with a Cuban Accent, go for it! Lots of Chicas in that neighborhood, you needn't go to Colombia so look at the Airfare you'll save. LOL

Posted on August 20, 2007


Yep, troll.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Pacsun,

I agree with the gentleman who posted the discussion of "fluency." Real fluency is a lifetime goal, not something you achieve in a even few years of even hard work.

I do feel comfortable saying that I speak Spanish, however. That's a place where I understand most of what I can hear and I can make myself understood - albeit with effort and grammatical errors - whenever I want.

That took me two years in country.

About four months of that time was spent in a full time language school in Bogota. I should point out that I did that, however, a year [I]into[/I] my stay which meant that I had done quite a bit of self study before showing up and was already fairly conversational.

(There's a hump there which has nothing to do with comprehending grammar or being able to read and write... it's about rhythm, pronunciation, establishing a basic skeleton of useful and flexible phrases, and getting your mind to switch tracks. And it's only reached after long painful hours of trying to talk to your friends.)

I think that's an important point, because rather than being swamped and lost when I got to school, I was really able to soak it up. I constantly had that "ahaa" feeling, saying, "so THAT'S how you say what I've been trying to say this whole time." New vocabulary was a joy. Advance verb conjugations felt long overdue.

It's such a beautiful language. And the people are so friendly and tolerant... well, it's a joy to learn. I speak German and Turkish, as well, and I have to say... nothing ever grew on me the way Spanish did.

Good luck to you. I wish I could go back and improve my Spanish as well!

Oh! Plimseur vs. Rosetta stone. They are different. They are both excellent. Buy them both... and USE them. Over and over again. Do that now while you are in America... it will pay big dividends. Also buy one exhaustive grammar reference.

Posted on August 20, 2007


He'll be lucky if he's fluent in 20 years. Meanwhile a child can go from nothing to speaking like a native in less than a year.

Posted on August 20, 2007


JS-True but in Children, their Repetive Powers are extremely strong wheras in ours, as Adults, repetetive powers are weak. Not to mention, a Child's facial Muscles are not fully formed/developed so they take in another langauge and end up with a neutral accent. Adults cannot, for the most part, do this.

Posted on August 20, 2007


My problem is that I'm good at what Spanish I know. I speak it correctly and without much accent. It's just good enough for people to think I'm totally fluent after I speak. NOT! Then they let me have it full force and rapid. I'm only able to pick out about 25% of what's being said. I have to tell them to slow down and talk to me like I'm a 4 year old. My step niece of 5 yrs speaks and know more than me. I'm in the total imersion program as none of my family speaks English. I can't do the class thing as I was not good/interested in my English structure/grammar/spelling....when I was a youngster.

Once I heard someone say it takes about 10 years to really master the language. I believe that. One plus in my favor is my baby girl. I'll be learning along with her and I plan to read all her school materials. We already watch a lot of DiscoveryKids.

I'm frequently asked to open a "Polishing" school where I help people attempt to lose their accents. Such as, stop is stop, not estop..... When I have my permanent Cedula in 3 yrs, I may open such a school.

Posted on August 20, 2007


"I can't remember a single instance where knowing a French word (like "mot" for example) helped with the Spanish equivalent ("palabra")." ! ! !
Do you even speak French???
Amor = Amour; Unos, dos tres, = un, deux trois ...; lunes, martes, miercoles = lundi, mardi, mercredi ...; calor = chaud; frio = froid; muerte = mort; causa = cause ; ataque = attaque ...
They are both Latin language and are very similar. French people can read a Spanish newspaper and understand the gist of it without having ever studied the language. Knowing french helps because the base for the language is the same. The same way if you speak Latin, learning French, Italian and Spanish become easier to learn.

Posted on August 20, 2007


the time it takes to learn spanish is inversely related to how hot your new novia(o) is

Posted on August 20, 2007


I grew up in Montreal, dude. So yes, I can speak French. Yes they are both Latin languages but they are not very similar. I think you're the guy who does not know French. I know plenty of Spanish speakers and NONE of them understands any spoken French. They are totally lost. They do better with written French but only because they can spot words with similar Latin roots. Among the big differences:

1. They always use the pronouns as in English and unlike Spanish. Why? Because you can't tell just from the sound of the word (or even from how it's spelled) whether it's first person singular or third person singular etc. For example, je peux, il peux.

2. Unlike Spanish, all the letters of a French word are not pronounced. As in English, many letter combinations are silent.

3. French does not have two forms of the verb "to be" as in Spanish.

4. French does not have two forms of the verb "to have" as in Spanish, one to indicate possession and one to act as an auxilary verb. As in English they use one verb "avoir" for both.

5. There are no rules to indicate which words are feminine or masculine in French unlike Spanish which has a very simple and clear rule with only a few exceptions.

6. Spanish does not change the word order of a sentence to indicate the interrogative. In French as in English the word order is changed to indicate the interrogative. Vous avez un chapeau vs. avez-vous un chapeau?

I could go on and on. Study the history of the development of the Romance languages and then get back to me.

Posted on August 20, 2007


BTW, you're not from France, are you? All I have to say to that is "Je suis un Quebecois!"

Posted on August 20, 2007


Not that my Spanish is any great shakes, but I do speak French. Knowing the French word is of help only since occasionally it will remind you of the Spanish word if you already know it. I found I learned a lot more grammar learning French than English, and this knowledge of grammar is helpful when learning Spanish.

Fluency has a lot of meanings. I would say a highly motivated person with no knowledge of any other language than English would need three months minimum, probably a year to have any reasonable faculty. Assuming immersion and practicing when possible including TV, movies...

Posted on August 20, 2007


As an experiment, take a Spanish speaker (with no knowledge of any other language) and show them three films without subtitles, one in French, one in Italian and one from Brazil. I guarantee you that they will understand the last two fairly well and have only a dim idea of what's going on in the first. I know because I've done it. I also know several Colombians who live in Quebec and they all found learning French difficult even though they were told repeatedly that of course it should be easy, they're all Latin languages. Right.

Posted on August 20, 2007


A lot of films for some reason are subtitled in English and French but not Spanish. Whenever I ask a Spanish speaker who doesn't know either English or French which subtitles they want, for some reason they always choose the English subtitles. I keep telling them that as a Latin language French should be so much easier for them to understand but they always pass. Hell if I'm watching a French film, they want the English subtitles on with it instead of the French subtitles. I don't know what gives but they're not that interested in French.

Posted on August 20, 2007


"He'll be lucky if he's fluent in 20 years. Meanwhile a child can go from nothing to speaking like a native in less than a year."

Actually John, as I delve deeper into my fourth language, I have to say that I completely reject this theory.

I have twin nephews about 2.5 years old. They probably have vocabularies of less than 20 words each. After 2.5 years of total immersion. They understand more of course; and after 10 more years of 100% immersion, they'll be completely conversational... and up to a 7th grade reading level. They still won't sound like adults.

That's really not all that impressive.

Regardless of whether the notion that language learners are handicapped after puberty is defeatist and discouraging, I think it is wrong at face value.

Adults learn differently. And in many cases more quickly. That's because we have a framework of grammar in our heads already. So I can sit down with an adult and explain, for example the present perfect conjugations of verbs: "'He leido' is just like 'have read,' and this is how it is formed... 'leido' is the perfect form, just like 'read,' and then you conjugate the auxiliary verb 'haber,' for the appropriate person, just like you conjugate 'to have.' The use and meaning in both languages is almost identical."

I can't do that with a child, who has to hear it over and over and over again until he teases out the pattern on his own.

Obviously, in many cases we're comparing apples and oranges. Children are developing neurologically, which is why you'll say, "Well of COURSE your nephews aren't speaking yet... but they will."

True. And it's kind of my point.

Yes, we learn differently. Not surprisingly, we learn at different speeds. Adults and children have different advantages and disadvantages when it comes to learning based on their neurological development.

But I think this theory that children learn more quickly and effortlessly is totally notional. When we are children with little comprehension it's coming neither quickly nor easily... but we're not frustrated because we've never known anything else.

Adults are different, obviously. And yes, learning takes concerted effort for an adult. But I'll reiterate my point: adults can acquire language more quickly because they have already learned the logic of grammar, and so have a reference point.

Nothing amuses me more than to see language programs advertising this kind of nonsense: "Learn to speak French in two weeks! With our amazing program, you'll learn to speak just like a child does! No need to memorize flashcards, no boring grammar lessons... quickly and naturally become conversational!"

(Plimseur's marketing program is something along those lines, I believe.)

What a crock. We all know we must study. We must memorize - and then use - vocabulary. We must study grammar. We must read, and write, and force yourself to listen and speak. Until somebody invents the Star Trek chip to plant into our heads, there is no "miracle" technique to learning a language. And no, you can't do it in three weeks, or one or two years.

But adults can - I am convinced - reach an adult level of functionality far more quickly than children ever do.

Just my 2 cents, and a little bit of encouragement for the learners out there: don't let other people tell you you are handicapped as an adult. It just isn't true.

Posted on August 20, 2007


"..What a crock. We all know we must study. We must memorize.."
That's not for necessarily true; kids don't 'study', yet by five, most are doing pretty well. Well enough to get what they want most of the time. Yeah, we as adults have alot in the way of learning so easily as the lil children, but...instant immersion will provide a similar experience.

Who's the troll?

Posted on August 20, 2007


I read here about a year ago, from a previous regular poster who is a linguist and Spanish teacher, that to be truly fluent in Spanish as an English speaker with no previous Spanish knowledge, takes 8 years or more with constant practice and lessons required. I don't know if this is true or not.

Posted on August 20, 2007


RJ-to be fully bilingual I would agree.I believe if you are talking just Conversational and are living in the country, a much shorter time frame. I met a Woman from Cuba(degree teacher) who lived in Alberta,Canada for 3 years and never took a formal English lesson. She is self taught (tv, radio, workplace, self study) She holds a good english conversation and defends herself well albeit with a heavy acent. OTH, her two kids who were 8 and 12 at the time they all went to live in Alberta, speak English with little accent whatsoever. This only re-inforces the Linguist's Theory about the Powerful Repetitive Learning abilities of Children and also the fact the many muscles used in Speech are not comletely formed and adapt to learning a second langauge much easier then adults.

Posted on August 20, 2007


hmmmm

Posted on August 20, 2007


Well Going South,

I take it you disagree with me? I can't say I have a lot invested in persuading you... but again, I'm working on my fourth language: I speak German and Turkish (badly) as well. I'm not really yanking this from my nether regions.

You write that "kids don't 'study,'" and you are correct to put 'study' in quotes.

The truth is that kids study every waking moment. 100% immersion. Socially, and biologically, learning is really their only mission... at least until they get a paper-route. They don't study like adults do BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW HOW. They have to learn that as well, and when they do, they will be more efficient learners.

Yes, in some ways the 100% immersion that they experience is a huge advantage. I think 98% immersion would be optimal: if you could put an adult in an exclusively Spanish speaking environment, with access to written learning materials providing explanations in his native tongue - reference grammar books, and an English-Spanish dictionary for example - you'd probably capture the highest learning rate of all.

As it is that's hard for us to do, because we are social creatures, and that level of unenforced isolation is hard for most of us to tolerate. So inevitably we achieve something less, and there are trade offs. I still contend that even with trade offs, adults are doing better than conventional wisdom supposes: It feels hard because we don't remember what it was like to four years old.

You write that by five kids will be doing well. When is the last time you ever talked to a five year old?

Certainly talent varies from individual to individual. I'm not particularly good with foreign languages, BTW, and my Spanish was better than a five year-olds after two years of what is best described as partial immersion. My control case would be my girlfriend's five year old nephew. My girlfriend warned me on two occasions: "Wasteland, you're using words that he doesn't know."

I could talk politics and economy. Boat repair and the charter business. Military affairs. I was using subjunctive and subjunctive II conjugations to make some pretty complicated statements.

He could talk about cartoons, peros calientes, and chi chi.

GS: "Yeah, we as adults have alot in the way of learning so easily as the lil children, but...instant immersion will provide a similar experience."

I'm not sure I understand what your point is. You seem to be suggesting that adults can learn just as quickly as children if they do full ("instant?") immersion, in which case I'm left wondering ... what, exactly, do you think is a crock?

Maybe I just don't speak duck.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Hi Mike,

M: "This only re-inforces the Linguist's Theory about the Powerful Repetitive Learning abilities of Children and also the fact the many muscles used in Speech are not completely formed and adapt to learning a second langauge much easier then adults."

I don't know about muscles... but I do know - some of you aren't going to believe this - that our the palates of our mouths are actually shaped by our mother tongue.

So the accent issue... well, that's different entirely. You've no doubt known American immigrants - think Asian - who spend their entire adult lives in America and never lose their accent. They won't.

There are some vowel sounds in the languages that I study that will always be hard for me... because my mouth isn't going to change its shape.

Ces't la vie!

Posted on August 20, 2007


nope; I said....SIMILAR.

Posted on August 20, 2007


I may be a good guinea pig as I just began tinkering with learning Spanish about 3 months ago. I am now listening to the Pimsleur cds in the car each day for 30 minutes or so. So far, I can not understand anything in a normal speed conversation but can communicate basics very slowly. I hope to be much better in a couple of months. Test me then.

Posted on August 20, 2007


anybody been successful with the Pimsleur cd's? would it be wise to get a one on one tutor for maybe once a week sessions?

Posted on August 20, 2007


Como dice el dicho "Roma no construyó en un día". Forget about "fluent" and concentrate on becoming bi-lengual.

Posted on August 20, 2007


yeap mc, hopefully I have just enough brain cells left, after all of that tequila, to allow for basic Spanish skills. dude email me

Posted on August 20, 2007


so maybe I can get by pretty well in 2-3 more months, if I practice the Pimsleur, etc., an hour or so a day? say yes, pleeez, I know depends on whether I have a feel for it or not. I would say on that, I am average-above avg, not great, but not bad

Posted on August 20, 2007


"La práctica lo hace todo"

Posted on August 20, 2007


Yes, I have talked to five year olds and their command of language is impressive. They can speak far better than most adults learning a second language even after years of study. As for the idea that an adult can rival a child in learning a second language, that's total nonsense. Personally I take the kid's approach - I never study grammar and I just repeat everything I hear until it becomes second nature. Half the time I have no idea what the f*ck I'm saying but I say it with gusto.

Posted on August 20, 2007


I start learning english when my parents drop me in london for 1 year, just saying (HELLO my name is), thats all! I finally learned it just for survival.
and on the phone in Britain....just the last month before I came back I could understand a lady, she had a strong scotish...

I met a kid and he spoke perfect spanish, perfect english and perfect portugaise.. guess the kids mind is less full of trash.

to repeat every thing the people tells you is a good way, so if you some day learn gramma would be easier.

Posted on August 20, 2007


A lot of Costa Ricans also speak very good Spanish - even the poorer people speak a very clear and concise Spanish. I have occasion to speak to several on the phone and I can always easily understand them.

Posted on August 20, 2007


I don´t even understand costeños! in all the aspects...actually

Posted on August 20, 2007


The only words you really have to understand are chucha, monda and marica. Everything else is optional.

Posted on August 20, 2007


oh yes thouse words! and few others that just them understand.

Posted on August 20, 2007


seriously, how can one get by in Spanish in 2 months? because I want to be up to speed when I get back to Bogota

Posted on August 20, 2007


If you do it for at least 2 hours every day you could have a present simple conversation, but very simple

Posted on August 20, 2007


I'm on it. thanks

Posted on August 20, 2007


Well, JS:

JS: "Personally I take the kid's approach - I never study grammar and I just repeat everything I hear until it becomes second nature. Half the time I have no idea what the f*ck I'm saying but I say it with gusto."

Jejejeje... ya, well, that's clear.

JS, it is likely that your perceptions of an adult's learning ability are based on your own progress, and frankly, you're not trying all that hard. You ought to try taking a course for a month - just as an experiment - and see just how much you learn with dedicated hours, exercises, and a teacher to guide you, and work. Memorize. Stretch yourself. You might be surprised. You might want to return and do it again.
______________________________

Christo... Plimseur is great stuff, and you will be rewarded for your efforts. I just want to warn you not to buy the marketing hype. NOBODIES marketing hype... not Rosetta stone's, nobodies. No, you won't be doing OK in three months of listening to CD's 1/2 a day... and if you set that expectation you will be very disappointed.

What you might be able to do is build a small library of memorized phrases. That will be useful in making yourself understood, and as you begin to understand the grammar, you will be able to morph those phrases into other similar phrases.

That's great, and necessary. Your disappointment will be that you will not understand a Colombian's response to you. It's pretty frustrating to ask for something simple, like directions to the bank, and then be confronted with an unintelligible stream of Spanish: but it's unavoidable. In the beginning it will leave you feeling like, "why bother?"

Should you hire a tutor? YES. If you want to learn to speak and understand... practice speaking and understanding. A private teacher is a great stepping stone, especially since she can dial it back a little and kind of walk you through what she is saying. You won't get that kind of patience out in the street.

Everything that you do - studying books, listening to CD's, memorizing vocabulary - will pay you dividends, but not until you immerse yourself will you really begin to speak spontaneously.

Posted on August 20, 2007


that is what I thought. thanks wasteland. I will keep working on it, in many different ways, as it is a farily major priority now for me, though only one of several multi tasking things I am onto. I know that the multitasking is not good for learning a language, but I will do what I can. thanks for the feedback.

Posted on August 20, 2007


Ctbdg....multi-tasking = attention deficit! jejj

Posted on August 20, 2007


sometimes multi tasking is just multi tasking. on the other hand, I do probably have a bit of ADD. can we now put you on the analyst's couch? maybe you are actually goin north and just think you're goin south. jaja

Posted on August 20, 2007


....side-wayzzzzzzzz...

Posted on August 20, 2007


it's about time for Mona to appear; she'll tell the truth. innocent. isn't she?

Posted on August 20, 2007


she seems to have a certain innocent purity about her, doesn't she? I can't put my finger on it, exactly, what it is, but every guy here seems to want to

Posted on August 20, 2007


She's a 'Wanna-be-Bad-assed' Chica!
Mona! Hola! buena manana.
y, buenas noches, chiquitita :)

Posted on August 20, 2007


wanna be bad assed but only can play virtually to play out that?

Posted on August 20, 2007


I don't need all that book crap. My wife doesn't speak English so I'm in a f*cking Spanish immersion course. Hell, half the time I have to try to remember to speak English when I'm at work.

Posted on August 20, 2007


I would like to see how my fiance do if I wouldn´t speak english, jajajajajaja Jhon inscribe her in english classes or refuse to talk to her in spanish so ... finally she will learn

Posted on August 20, 2007


There are some people, of course, who will never be fluent. In any language, not even in their own. Myself, it's like a bad hair day; I have bad language days.

Cheers,
Desi

Posted on August 20, 2007


At this point it's just too much trouble to speak to her in English. Once you establish a pattern you're stuck with it so be careful what pattern you establish early on. It'll be what you end up doing the rest of your lives. It's ok. I like speaking Spanish. Now I can understand the cleaning crew and all the cafeteria workers.

Posted on August 20, 2007


john_Stark... I think that is the best advice I have received .....LOOKIN AHEAD.... on this site, and/or from you... in 2 years' time here!

""Once you establish a pattern you're stuck with it so be careful what pattern you establish early on. It'll be what you end up doing the rest of your lives.""

So THANKS! Now, I have one more challenge to laugh about! jejejjj

Posted on August 20, 2007


LOL tomtom, thar was not just funny but so true. I've met people like that too; as a matter of fact, I've BEEN one of them on a bad day.

Cheers,
Desi

Posted on August 20, 2007