T Nation

2nd language


I am trying to teach myself spanish (took it years ago in high school and college). Recently discovered I have a channel called HBO Latino, which is all in spanish. I have watched a couple of movies and the Sopranos en espanol. I miss most of the dialouge but pick up on some. Anyone who speaks a second language: is this a good exercise do you think? Any other suggestions?


Find people who are fluent, and speak it with them. It is possible to be able to understand a language, but not be able to speak it, and I wouldn't say that the person is fluent in it. Also, once yo can think in that language, that will take you a long way.


I think actually speaking to someone is better than just listening. Listening is only half the battle.

I'm about 75% fluent in Spanish, but I'm losing ground quickly because I don't speak it that often.


I agree. Speaking with someone, even if you are really struggling, is the best way to go. If you never speak with someone, the language really won't "click".

If you could find another speaker and make a deal to only speak in spanish for a couple hours, you'll be surprised how much you will learn during the conversation, while you are searching for the right words and phrases. Plus, because you struggle with them yourself, you will tend to remember them much better.


There are four areas of the brain, breaking up the decoding of language into listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The more you activate all of these areas, the more conversant you will become. Conversation with a native speaker is great, because you can't easily simulate it on your own, and because it requires you to use two of the four areas. The more work you do, however, the better you'll get. You might want to consider Berlitz tapes, or Pimsleur. Pimsleur starts out speaking faster, but doesn't seem as fun as Berlitz. My local library branch has both.

Of course, immersion would always be the top choice. I learned more Italian this past summer in three months than I did Spanish in six years. The differences were a) consistent effort, b)interest, c)immersion, d)good teachers from the beginning.
You might want to look into a community college course, as well.

I hope this post makes sense... I had to wake up at 4am for the company fishing trip. Ah, life is so hard! :wink:


What you're doing is great. Anything at all involving the language is a good idea. Another tip... buy magazines about subjects you like in Spanish. This may be an actual excuse to buy a Weider mag.


I find that watching the spanish news is helpful since they all have good pronounciation and the newsladies are hot, also you learn stuff about whats going on in the latin world which they hardly ever show on american news. The soap operas are good because the ladies are hot. And finally if you watch the cartoons and puppet shows geared for the kiddies its helpful because they go real slow and don't use too much fancy vocab. And the puppets are hot.


All previous posts offer good advice-

but yes watching movies/tv is effective, but more so if you already have somewhat of a base, a decent vocab volume. Without that too much is flying over your head to really be of much use (but it doesn't hurt).


Do something in the language every day. And pick up some Spanish-speaking women. That'll get you fluent faster than anything else, if you can manage it. (Nothing like being motivated to understand someone... :wink: )


I can't add anything to what has been said. Solid advice, all.


As silly as it sounds, watching cartoons in Spanish will help because they basically use plain, simple language with excellent pronunciation for kids. Then graduate to Spanish news programs. They also use excellent pronunciation. Also, interact whenever you can. It takes immersion to become fluent.


I met someone before (forgot which country) who learned English by watching Animal House with subtitles in his language. His English was very good!


I speak Italian, conversational Japanese, and just started Russian. I agree with those who said to do something in that language EVERY day. I reccomend the Pimsluer CD's or tapes...these blow everything else on the market away, BIG time. They are expensive though. $300.00 from the site, but u can get them on ebay for $100-200. I used these for all 3 and they are excellent. I had spanish for 4 years in high school and I learned WAY more from these CD's than I did in that time. I don't even remember any friggin spanish.