Here’s some peppy encouragement in this month’s guest article. I have to admit that I have been self-conscious about speaking another language many, many times in my life, but more often in French than in Spanish. Why? I spoke better French in my 20s than I will ever speak Spanish, but the French people were nothing like as warm and encouraging as the Spanish and Mexicans I have met. Also, I’m less self-conscious just from having lived more years! — Rosana Click to read more >>>
Fluenz Spanish is one of the best programs I have used for learning Spanish. I really admire their way of thinking about language learning and their methods of applying that to their courses. I also think that the multi-media aspect suits the popularity of computers. The programs also come with mp3 files you can listen to on a computer or with any mp3 player.
Here’s a list of Fluenz Spanish programs currently at Amazon, though for some reason a few other things are on the list too. No matter, this will show you all the different levels and combinations of levels, along with their prices. Click to read more >>>
We moved back to the US from Mexico over half a year ago now, and while it is nice to be understood everywhere I go, I find I am missing speaking Spanish. My husband and I drop a lot of Spanish words into our everyday life, little things mostly. But that isn’t exactly what I miss. It’s the fun of chatting in another language, of creating the sentences and hoping I am not messing up much.
We can’t go to Mexico this winter; I have obligations here in the US, being on a new library board mainly. And frankly I am a bit traveled out! But I do think I am gearing up to get back into practicing my Spanish. Every now and then I can chat with someone here, but I do find that native speakers of Spanish here in the US are less accustomed to listening to American accents like mine than were my friends in Jalisco, the state of Mexico we lived in.
So I will be playing around online with sites like spanishnewsbites.com and others, and reporting here on my progress!
I like the points in this month’s guest article, though I do think that #4 isn’t exactly a mistake. In the US, you can use Spanish and many other languages for that matter, without ever traveling to Spain, China, or wherever! And of course this website is all about helping you avoid mistakes #1,#2, and some of these others– Rosana
The Top 7 Mistakes People Make When Learning a Language
Learning a language can take forever, if you don’t have a system in place to make you advance at a satisfying pace. Not to mention that mistakes, stealing you precious resources, such as time and money, lurk everywhere!
Here are the top 7 mistakes people make when learning a language – you need to know them to avoid them:
1. Buying learning materials, and then forgetting all about it
Under the effect of enthusiasm, many of us tend to buy language learning materials, such as home study kits, dictionaries, and special editions of quick grammar handbooks, and then, due to lack of time, will, or a new burst of excitement, we leave those items lying on the shelf and get dusty. Actually, we usually fill so many shelves with these teach yourself manuals, that we could open a bookstore, or a library, right away. Click to read more >>>
I’ve heard of Michel Thomas’ programs for learning Spanish.
- I’ve heard that he had a terrible accent.
- I’ve heard that some people absolutely swear by his programs. Some friends of mine do.
- He taught a lot of celebrities.
Contradictory, yes. So I did a little websurfing and found that his method involves no memorization and no homework. Click to read more >>>
This month’s guest article says that you can learn conversational Spanish more rapidly than I would claim, but I agree with the rest of it, specially the emphasis on learning to SPEAK. — Rosana
The Absolute Fastest Way to Speak Spanish
By NP Dowling
What is the fastest way to speak Spanish proficiently? If you ask ten different people, you may get seven or eight different answers. I want to share with you my answer, which to me is only common sense. The fastest way to speak Spanish is to get speaking Spanish as fast as possible! Learning fluent Spanish from a book or a class is simply impossible.
By this I mean that your course of action should be to get speaking Spanish, not get stuck with your head in text books, or vocabulary or verb exercises. Learn conversational Spanish as fast as you can. And you can do this in eight weeks or less, with about an hour of practice a day. Click to read more >>>
I remember glancing through a friend’s copy of Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach when I was a young woman living in Spain and studying Spanish with a tutor. In other words, this book has been around quite a while.
So I was a little surprised to see that it showed up at Amazon as one of the more popular books for self-study of Spanish. I took a look at the publisher’s blurb. Succinct, it is: “Anyone can read, write, and speak Spanish in only a few short weeks with this unique and proven method, which completely eliminates rote memorization and boring drills.”
At least that was a clue. I took a look at some of the numerous reader reviews. People tend to like it a lot. They say it emphasizes conversational Spanish… always one of my favorite topics.
They say a lot of other good things about it too. Take a look, if you’re at all curious:
There is nothing new in this article if you have been reading my blog for a while. But I loved seeing someone else saying the same things, or very similar! — Rosana
How to Find the Time to Learn a New Foreign Language
With the frenetic rhythm of nowadays, it often seems impossible to fit a(nother) foreign language into your busy schedule. But when you think of the benefits this new knowledge entails, it also seems impossible not to try, right?
So, what can you do to bring in the magic and conjure up enough time to start learning a language? Here are seven of my favorite strategies…
Committing to 20-minute chunks
While allocating a whole hour of your day to a new language may be difficult, splitting it up into smaller chunks of 20 minutes is much easier. And since consistency will get you more results than sporadic learning for prolonged periods of time, you can easily settle for one 20-minute chunk a day. In the morning, before you go to sleep, during lunch break or your commute to work, when you can listen to audios if you’re not in the position to read. Click to read more >>>
Have you ever gotten flummoxed by the difference in Spanish between ser and estar, the two verbs that mean “to be” –depending on the circumstances?
I sure have, and I was a little reassured one day when I was chatting with a very well-educated Mexican friend of mine. I used the wrong one of these two verbs. Conchita laughed and said, “Getting ser and estar right is one of the hardest things for foreigners. I even have an Italian friend who speaks near-perfect Spanish — except for those two verbs!”
Well, I do have a secret weapon to help me : Spanish Verbs: Ser and Estar : Key to Mastering the Language is a very useful little book.. It explains why the way these verbs are often taught is too general and not precisely accurate, and it gives you some easy-to-remember guidelines.
For example, the authors say, “The fundamental difference between ser and estar is the difference between WHATNESS and HOWNESS.”
I must say that no light bulbs went on in my brain when I read that the first time, but they go on to explain it quite well.
I was quite amused at some of their examples. These took me into subtle realms where I fear I have been messing up for years.
Here’s one example from the book:
Ser or Estar – and the Art of the Back-handed Compliment
As an example of the effective use of ser and estar, let us take the adjective inteligente (intelligent). Students are often taught that this adjective is one in that long list of exceptions which should only take ser, as for instance:
Ricardo es inteligente.
In fact, the word inteligente can also be used very effectively with estar. But when so used, the result can easily be an openly sarcastic remark or a nicely disguised insult. For by the very use of estar in this phrase we are explicitly limiting Ricardo’s intelligence to a particular accidental instance…
With this example, I will leave you. I won’t tell you about the example on page 59 that had me wondering how often I might have announced that I was a fallen woman. Without meaning to! (I’m not.)
This article struck me as interesting, and it was on one of the websites where authors put their articles to be used by other webmasters. It is written for people needing to improve their English, so just substitute Spanish wherever you read English in the article. (The terms of service of the articles website don’t allow me to change the article.)
This could be a good idea for someone with access to native speakers of Spanish who have good accents, which is in many places! — Rosana
How an Accent Reduction Coach Can Help You
By Susan M Ryan
An accent reduction coach can tell you which sounds and patterns you currently use that contribute to your accent. Then you can focus on the areas that are problems for you and help you learn the sounds and patterns of spoken English. Click to read more >>>