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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Isla Verde just said in a separate thread that "Learning to 'live' in Spanish is the key to finding your new self in Mexico." She points out that otherwise, your time in Mexico will be like "looking at life through a sort of translucent linguistic veil".

Granted it is possible to make English speaking Mexican friends and to learn enough Spanish simply by immersion to understand most of what is being said around you, and to you.

But, she's right, that's just not good enough...at least not for me.

To those of you who really have mastered Spanish to at least a conversational level --- meaning a level in which you can express yourself using past tense, present tense, and future tense, and can even discuss abstract subjects --- what do you believe is really the best way for a student to gain the same proficiency?
 

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I started learning the language in my early 40's by taking several courses at the local community college. Those courses taught me the basics like the various tenses, verb conjugation, vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, etc. Then I moved here when I was 47 and my learning has never stopped. I have no English speaking friends so I have to use the language daily. Sometimes when I call a friend in the USA I find myself mixing Spanish and English. I still don't speak it perfectly although my friends here tell me I speak it very well and that they have no trouble understanding me. Learning the language is an ongoing process that never ends.
 

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First of all, different people have different learning styles, so what is the best way for some may not work as well for others.

Second, my path was very similar to diablita’s (although at a different age). I started with some university courses that began at level zero for people with no knowledge of Spanish. That gave me the basics exactly like what diablita describes – verbs and tenses, pronouns, vocabulary, common idioms.

After that, I integrated more and more into life in Mexico, first with many years of visits, then with moving to Mexico.

If you build on the basis of beginner courses, I think the best ways to continue what those courses have started are: 1) input: read and listen to the news in Spanish (internet is your friend), read websites, blogs, books, magazines, watch movies in Spanish; and 2) necessity: seek out and cultivate acquaintances and friends whose English is worse than your Spanish (at your early levels, this might mean that they have no English at all). Then you are forced to communicate with them in Spanish, and you are not tempted by the thought “all this would be so much easier if we switched to English.”

If you are in Mexico, every shopping experience at markets, supermarkets, small stores, large stores, utilities, etc. is a chance to speak Spanish.

If you are not in Mexico, there are websites that match up language learners with native speakers — you learn from a Spanish speaker, while you “pay” by helping English learners.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I started learning the language in my early 40's by taking several courses at the local community college. Those courses taught me the basics like the various tenses, verb conjugation, vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, etc. Then I moved here when I was 47 and my learning has never stopped. I have no English speaking friends so I have to use the language daily. Sometimes when I call a friend in the USA I find myself mixing Spanish and English. I still don't speak it perfectly although my friends here tell me I speak it very well and that they have no trouble understanding me. Learning the language is an ongoing process that never ends.
So, an academic approach followed by immersion. I think that makes a lot of sense and will have better results that trying immersion first, as I did. I've also tried a couple of language lessons on cassette and found them helpful but not for learning the ins and outs of conjugation and selected the correct article to use in a sentence. What I would really love to find is an affordable school, or tutor, who can teach me how to read and write correctly. Once I'm sure it's correct, that tends to stick with me and get used.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
...there are websites that match up language learners with native speakers — you learn from a Spanish speaker, while you “pay” by helping English learners.
I have a friend like that in Juarez who translated a web site for me into Spanish and speaks good English but did the project to get better. It was healthy for both of us. He is a very patient teacher, but I can't visit him often enough and when I'm there it's family time with all kinds of other things going on.

I'd sure love to know which websites you are talking about, and, gosh, that's an internet idea I would have loved to use myself... :)
 

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So, an academic approach followed by immersion. I think that makes a lot of sense and will have better results that trying immersion first, as I did.
In my opinion, and speaking as a former Spanish teacher and occasional English teacher, immersion can work with children or adults who already speak a couple of languages in addition to their native tongue. But the average adult really needs formal language lessons to understand the structure of the language and to get a head start on basic vocabulary and common expressions. Otherwise, they may end up being able to spout a few phrases like "Buenos días" and "Gracias" and use single nouns to ask for something in a restaurant or at a market but are unable to form sentences and have a real conversation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
In my opinion, and speaking as a former Spanish teacher and occasional English teacher, immersion can work with children or adults who already speak a couple of languages in addition to their native tongue. But the average adult really needs formal language lessons to understand the structure of the language and to get a head start on basic vocabulary and common expressions. Otherwise, they may end up being able to spout a few phrases like "Buenos días" and "Gracias" and use single nouns to ask for something in a restaurant or at a market but are unable to form sentences and have a real conversation.
That is exactly what I am missing, understanding the sentence structure and the technicalities involved using the articles, not to mention practice conjugating verbs. I guess I'm just the kind of person who needs a structured approach, or, as you say, just too old to "pick it up" on the fly the way a kid does. I don't know if anyone is following her blog, but the poster who took a job teaching in Durango has a young son who seems to be making friends and fitting in just fine. I'll bet he is learning Spanish rapidly, too.
 

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I get this newsletter weekly Learn Spanish with don Quijote: Members It's free, gives you a short grammar lesson and some vocabulary to learn.

This one is an interactive web site where you can help others learn as well as yourself Livemocha
If the Don Quijote website features Spanish from Spain, you could end up learning vocabulary that may not be useful in Mexico.
 

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I don't know if anyone is following her blog, but the poster who took a job teaching in Durango has a young son who seems to be making friends and fitting in just fine. I'll bet he is learning Spanish rapidly, too.
I started reading her blog then lost it, can you give me the link? It was pretty interesting!
 

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Take a look at duolingo.com online. It is a fantastic program and is free.
This website is so cool!!!! I've been using Rosetta Stone and it's okay but it's a pain in the arse when it comes to pronunciation with things are broken down like per-I-od-I-co. It will NOT hear the co. and I want to throw the headset across the room. LOL Thank you for posting this!!!!
:)
 

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Take a look at duolingo.com online. It is a fantastic program and is free.
Thanks for the suggestion. I will try it out.

In earlier years I found it easier to learn things and I understand that is the way it is. I taught myself sign language to help deaf individuals and became a fluent translator but I am finding Spanish more difficult. Mental block, I think.:eek:
 

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I learned in a very formal way in high school and was able to continue learning Spanish in college. The hardest grammar point in Spanish is getting through the subjunctive. Spanish uses it all the time, whereas English does not use it. (except "if I were...") Luckily I had a great teacher who drilled this concept until we spoke Spanish mixing indicative, imperative and subjunctive moods. I learned more about English grammar by studying Spanish!
 

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I worked at a language institute that catered to adults, native speakers of Spanish wishing to learn English. It was my observation that private one on one instruction often yielded faster and better results than the classroom. The classroom students were all lumped together regardless of existing language skills, education and aptitude. The result was frustrating for those more talented because they wasted a lot of time waiting for the others to catch up. The allotted time frequently turned into not much more than a social hour. The cost was much lower than private instruction and the students could repeat the course as many times as they wished, so there's that. As was mentioned above each of us is different. One size does not fit all. You might want to be in a social environment with others who's first language is English, etc.

I always enjoy watching the Spanish language news casts because they put up a lot of visuals in the background that help place the words in context. Also, the newscasters tend to speak slower and more clearly than you'd hear in the average street parlance.

One tool that I particularly like is the on screen hover translation of single words available by installing the Google tool bar; perfect for my Spanish language daily newspaper fix. I already understand most of the words so that hovering tool is best for me but Google also will translate the entire web page for you.

I went to Acapulco from home base Miami with a buddy who knew about three hundred words. He couldn't do tenses but what he could do practically made him a rock star there. He was a natural born communicator. He got up close, touched people on the arm and shoulder, smiled and otherwise charmed the sox off them. It's all too much fun.

Best of luck to you,
Cheers!
 
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