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Old 12-16-2008, 11:36 PM
 
Location: AZ
1,465 posts, read 4,551,077 times
Reputation: 793

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I realized just a couple weeks ago how important, beneficial, and rewarding it would be to learn Spanish. I have a very basic understanding of the language at the moment. I can get the basic gist of any single sentence, to be quite honest. I think part of it has to do with the fact that it was required to take Spanish (and Ojibwe) in my elementary school. So I hear a certain word and I remember it.

I'm trying the whole Rosetta Stone thing, but it seems like the only thing it would teach me is stuff like "La mujer tiene un libro", "Ella duerme", "El caballo esta corriendo" and the like.

I have a few books:
"Berlitz: Spanish in 30 days" (with audio CD)
"Langscheidt Pocket Dictionary"
"Harrap's Pocket Dictionary"
"Easy Spanish Phrase Book" (with 770 phrases separated by category)
"1001 most useful Spanish words"
"Practice makes perfect: Spanish verb tenses"
"Practice makes perfect:Spanish pronouns and prepositions"

I also listen to a lot of Spanish music, mainly Reggaeton. It really expands my vocab. I learned a lot of phrases this way. Only thing is though, with Reggaeton comes a confusing dialect. They tend to leave s's out on a lot of things. I bought the "La Mente Maestra" album, and they pronounce maestra like "ma-e-tra".

ANYWAYS, my main point is. As a person in Minnesota that doesn't have any contact with Spanish speaking people, as I don't know any that live here, is this a good way to start learning Spanish? Do you Spanish speakers have any other suggestions? Any other non-expensive books I could pick up? Etc?

Gracias!
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Old 12-17-2008, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
8,998 posts, read 14,715,278 times
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Go to the local movie rental place and try to rent some movies in Spanish.
You can always try to watch the spanish language channels on tv.

Can you not enroll in a spanish course or two at your local community college?
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Old 12-17-2008, 10:28 AM
 
512 posts, read 1,558,293 times
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Move to San Diego for a couple of years, it worked for me.
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Old 12-17-2008, 11:43 AM
 
Location: In a delirium
2,588 posts, read 5,412,895 times
Reputation: 1401
I'm assuming you cannot move to a Spanish speaking country, as that's the best way to learn a new language.

Why don't you put an ad up somewhere, perhaps Craigslist, for a conversation partner? There might be grad students in a local college, who would tutor for a song. Also, music helped many of my friends, but not me. TV shows helped me a lot. So, if you can't get them, you can certainly rent movies and TV shows.

Studying a lot of grammar will not help you too much. Get the skeleton down, and then toss it aside until you have mastered stringing sentences together. It just inhibits your ability to speak quickly and that is often a key element in other people understanding you. Once you can string sentences together in conversation without being too stilted, then you start filling the grammar back in.

Finally, yes, you do need to ultimately have a large vocabulary, but most people find that memorizing long lists of words doesn't help you gain any fluidity. I increased my vocabulary by reading at really low levels. I started out with semi-advanced children's books, moved into things like "The Hardy Boys," then read biographies/autobiographies, and then finally was able to dive into Dostoevsky.

Your grammar books and dictionaries are largely just for reference. I've never worked with CDs, so I can't offer an opinion about that.
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Old 12-17-2008, 01:19 PM
 
Location: AZ
1,465 posts, read 4,551,077 times
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Thanks for all your replies so far!

@ LiveTodayLez08: Instead of renting Spanish movies, I think what I'll do is actually turn the Spanish language on with English subtitles to movies I'm familiar to. Then, move up to Spanish subtitles. I would rent other movies, but why spend money to rent movies when I can. I actually have Pan's Labyrinth. It's a movie I enjoy, and would probably learn a lot from it.
I don't have any Spanish channels around here on TV. I do live in Northern Minnesota, after all.
And as far as classes at community college: I could do that, but the expense is, well, very expensive. I already fulfilled my communication requirements, as well as took German in highschool. I really wish I would have taken BOTH Spanish and German back then, as someone I knew did.

@Georgepl: That would be fine and dandy and all, but I'm still in college, and moving to an expensive place like California, especially SD, wouldn't be in my best interest right now.

@fjtee: I mean, technically, I could move to a Spanish speaking country, I'm not THAT far into college, but I definitely would like to finish. Puerto Rico would seem like the most plausible option, since it's a US territory and whatnot.
Craigslist sounds like a good idea. What do going rates for tutors go? Maybe I can find someone at school that speaks Spanish and could teach me? I just need to branch out and meet some new people anyways!
It seems like media such as music and movies will help me out.
How would I go about mastering stringing sentences together easily? It seems like when I look at a sentence, such as "Nadie mejor que tu", I read it as "No one's better what you", when it really means "No one's better than you". So this always leads me to wonder "Why?" and wondering HOW to conjugate something, and why it happens that way. Curiosity, you could say. But it helps. Though I don't know if it's actually necessary WHY something happens, but just to DO it?
How would a Harry Potter book in Spanish be as far as difficulty?
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Old 12-17-2008, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
8,998 posts, read 14,715,278 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acrylic View Post
Thanks for all your replies so far!

@ LiveTodayLez08: Instead of renting Spanish movies, I think what I'll do is actually turn the Spanish language on with English subtitles to movies I'm familiar to. Then, move up to Spanish subtitles. I would rent other movies, but why spend money to rent movies when I can. I actually have Pan's Labyrinth. It's a movie I enjoy, and would probably learn a lot from it.
I don't have any Spanish channels around here on TV. I do live in Northern Minnesota, after all.
And as far as classes at community college: I could do that, but the expense is, well, very expensive. I already fulfilled my communication requirements, as well as took German in highschool. I really wish I would have taken BOTH Spanish and German back then, as someone I knew did.
I don't know why I didn't think of subtitles. I absolutely love them.
I have Pan's Labyrinth as well.

I second an earlier response where someone recommended a conversation partner. You might be able to find someone who needs help with their English and they can help you with Spanish.
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Old 12-17-2008, 01:48 PM
 
13,604 posts, read 20,624,923 times
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With any language, you ultimately have to go there and live for awhile. All of the suggestions are good ones and will help, but you must go there.

Spanish is probably the one exception to this in the States for obvious reasons. But living in Minnesota hampers that.

I studied German for years. Did the films, mags, etc. Went there and within hours realized that I was in for a challenge. But progress begins immediatly.

Go down and study Spanish in Mexico. You will have fun and accomplish your goal.
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Old 12-17-2008, 01:59 PM
 
Location: AZ
1,465 posts, read 4,551,077 times
Reputation: 793
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moth View Post
With any language, you ultimately have to go there and live for awhile. All of the suggestions are good ones and will help, but you must go there.

Spanish is probably the one exception to this in the States for obvious reasons. But living in Minnesota hampers that.

I studied German for years. Did the films, mags, etc. Went there and within hours realized that I was in for a challenge. But progress begins immediatly.

Go down and study Spanish in Mexico. You will have fun and accomplish your goal.
It would be really cool to be able to do something like that. My school may possibly have an exchange program, where I could possibly attend school for a semester or so. I would like that. Are there any good schools that universities do exchanges to in Latin America? (Mexico or PR?)
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Old 12-17-2008, 02:24 PM
 
13,604 posts, read 20,624,923 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acrylic View Post
It would be really cool to be able to do something like that. My school may possibly have an exchange program, where I could possibly attend school for a semester or so. I would like that. Are there any good schools that universities do exchanges to in Latin America? (Mexico or PR?)

I do not know any offhand. Before I studied at the university level in Germany, I did two back to back immersion courses. About 5 weeks each/4 or 5 hours of classroom time per day. Its like boot camp, but that's the way to do it.

Call the Mexican Embassy or local consulate or just start Googling. These kind of courses are in every country. If you can forgo working for part of the summer, you could do one then.

Being there is key as you are then surrounded and saturated by it.
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Old 12-17-2008, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Camberville
15,753 posts, read 21,237,454 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acrylic View Post
It would be really cool to be able to do something like that. My school may possibly have an exchange program, where I could possibly attend school for a semester or so. I would like that. Are there any good schools that universities do exchanges to in Latin America? (Mexico or PR?)
I spent a semester with SIT (School for International Training- one of the oldest study abroad institutions in the world and one of the most respected) in Mexico for a semester. The program was Grassroots Development and Social Change, though they have others in other parts of Latin America. SIT is great because with all of their programs, you live in a homestay (and mine spoke not a word of English.. was that an adventure in uncomfortable situations!) and 4 hours a day of Spanish separated out into smaller classes. My group was 18 people (which is on the large side for SIT) and in my individual Spanish class, there was only 3 people. Your actual classes are really just presentations by local professors, nonprofit workers, activists, and other authorities. The last month of the program was spent working with a nonprofit of your choice doing an independent study project. In other programs (not Mexico), I don't think you had to work with a nonprofit, but it's still independent. SIT programs are more roughing it though- all programs involve some travel with the infamous weeks sleeping on a floor in a rural village. Wonderful experience though.

Other schools offer programs where you direct enroll in Mexican schools with Mexican students.

However, you would have to have 3 semesters of college level Spanish. Really, you would have to have at least 2 semesters of college Spanish for any study abroad program. There are few that allow you to study without previous college level study. Most study abroad programs in Mexico (to my knowledge) are conducted entirely in Spanish so you need to be able to follow coursework in that language.

However, a semester is really not enough. I studied Spanish very intensely for 8 years prior to studying abroad. When I got to Mexico, it was as if I had never taken any at all! I got better, but you will be no means fluent at the end of a semester- especially with minimal experience previously (and sorry, elementary school classes don't particularly count :P).

I'd say start taking classes at your college- at least one a semester. In addition, find Spanish speakers to actually SPEAK with. You can read hundreds of books and listen to thousands of songs, but that doesn't affect your ability to understand or speak in real time. That's the hardest skill to grasp. I'd recommend finding people to talk to on skype. That's how I'm keeping in touch with my friends I made in Mexico as well as practicing my spoken Spanish.
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