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Old 27th December 2006, 07:42 AM   #21
Jon Hundt
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eldeano said: "When it comes to convering in Spanish, we Brits are very conscious about making mistakes - often to the point that if we know we won't get it right we won't even bother.

Yet when we observe someone for whom English is not their primary language but who is willing to have a go in order to get their point across or just even practise, we are full of admiration for them despite the mistakes they make."

When I first moved to Holland I worried about not speaking perfectly. One day I realized that I would probably NEVER speak Dutch perfectly, and I would never be able to hide my American accent. So I just started talking; I thought "the heck with it, who cares if I sound stupid, as long as I get my message across". It worked! Now everyone I talk to knows I come frome somewhere else, but all of my conversations are 100 Dutch. And if I trip over a word, or a sentence - so what!?

In the States we love 'foreign' accents, we think they're charming and cute, or sexy and sophisticated. I try to remember that here; maybe people think it's fun to listen to me.

Oh, and I dislike making telephone calls in any language, even my native English. Whenever possible I prefer a face-to-face talk, even if it's sometimes inconvenient.
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Old 4th January 2007, 02:36 AM   #22
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For some reason I refuse to speak in front of my mother (who is fluent). I'm sure there's some deep psychological reasoning there....but I don't know what it is.
Wow. That's exactly my problem. I'm puerto rican, my parents split when I was five. My mother didn't teach my siblings and myself spanish, but I can understand it pretty well. Since she never forced us to speak it, my spanish isn't fluent, not to mention that my accent is all wrong and it sounds much different than other puerto ricans. (In fact, my wife is portuguese and I have no problem learning and trying to speak her language.... sometimes my spanish has a portuguese accent!)

Anyway, I'm now trying to get over a deep-seated psychological inability to speak spanish to my family. I've steeled myself and even mentioned to my mother that we need to speak to eachother only in spanish so that I can improve my spanish to a conversational level. She was all for it, obviously. But when the time came, she spoke to me in spanish and I responded in english. I willed myself to simply speak spanish, but I just couldn't do it! When she pressed me to switch, I made an excuse about being tired (I'd just gotten home from work).

I think it stems from the simple fact that on the few occasions where I attempted, as a child, to speak spanish my family teased me about my american accent. I can clearly remember an incident where I was called into the middle of a family party and prompted to count to ten in spanish. I proceeded to do so, expecting praise. When I said ".....tres, cuatro......", they burst out in laughter because I'd said "cuatro" like an american learning spanish might, a hard C and T sound. It burned. And I really think it has stuck with me.

I think I may be ready soon, though. Just mentioning it to my mom was a good first step for me. Now I just have to get over the next hurdle and just do it.

What's even worse is that I love speaking spanish to others (non-family) when given the chance. It's just that my wife and I travel to Portugal and Spain only every two years. My family is my best resource for getting up to speed and I'm not utilizing this resource at all right now.

btw, I've gotten great advice re: learning spanish while in Spain on two occasions. Once was from a bartender in Madrid who was actually from Sweden, if memory serves. (I think I used 'el' when I should have used 'la' and apologized when he corrected me.) The other was from a Spanish taxi driver in Cordoba. They essentially said the same thing: don't worry about conversational mistakes, just stumble through it if you have to. The Spanish will correct you, don't take it personally. You'll absorb, over time, all these little "lessons" and your spanish *will* improve.

Now if I could just apply that advice when it comes to my family.....
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Old 7th January 2007, 10:13 PM   #23
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For some reason I refuse to speak in front of my mother (who is fluent). I'm sure there's some deep psychological reasoning there....but I don't know what it is.
I have been trying to figure this problem out for years - being on the otherside of it. My three children stopped speaking English to me after the oldest had been in school for a year. They all stopped together and never spoke to me again (in English, of course) for about 20 years. They are now 33, 30, and 29 and have somehow overcome the problem, although they will always switch to German if we are alone.

I am sure I pressured them too much to speak English and probably corrected their mistakes too often when they were small. I spoke to them in English (and they answered in German) until the oldest was about 16 and then I threw in the towel and left it up to them to continue learning.

Unfortunately, when they were small, we were not able to go to the US or England for any length of time to make it easier for them. Later they went by themselves and since then it has become more normal for them to speak English when I am around.
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Old 30th January 2007, 01:40 PM   #24
José Miguel
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Una traducción madrileña para "He's cheap":
"Gasta menos que Tarzán en corbatas".
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Old 13th February 2007, 05:12 AM   #25
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íHola a todos! I'm Liz [Isabella] from New Zealand and I am a bit new to adding messages so pido disculpas if I make a mess of it. I am studying for a BA in spanish at uni and I have found that immersing myself in Spanish music [perhaps more of the Concerto de Rodrigez type] for a few minutes before starting my studies really helps both sides of my brain to kick in.
I speak other languages and I find that the same technique works equally well - I literally drift off in my chair and let the beauty and often the sadness of the music take over. I should tell you that I am 80 this year so it is quite easy to sit in a chair and drift away!!![Joking] .If I am not boring you all too much, the other trick that helps me is to take down notes in the form of 'mind maps' as this engages both lobes by introducing both colour and statistics. Ojalá que paseis bien. Liz
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Old 19th February 2007, 07:02 PM   #26
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Hi Isabella,

Thanks very much for sharing your tricks with us. I agree with you that music can help a lot with a language. What other languages do you speak???
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Old 11th March 2007, 12:55 PM   #27
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Default Speaking on the phone !!

I would say that you can't speak a language, until, you can speak it on the phone. The phone is a great way to improve your Spanish if you have an intermediate level, one has to concentrate 100% without any visual aides. Skype of course is great for that. Though personally I find mobiles more difficult than normal phones.
Ciao !!
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Old 20th May 2007, 08:22 PM   #28
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I agree when it comes to music . I keep searching for lyrics of songs and sing along with the CDs. If you try and imitate their accent, it first gives comical effect but then it really teaches you something. By memorising the lyrics, I always have a song to sing when I'm on my bike on my way to work .
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Old 20th May 2007, 09:48 PM   #29
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I agree when it comes to music . I keep searching for lyrics of songs and sing along with the CDs. ....
I found a lot of lyrics here - plus a lot of adverts but I suppose that pays their costs
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Old 29th August 2007, 09:36 PM   #30
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Remember Spain and their former colonies are two culture seperated by a language in commun. So if you learn Spanish in Mexico. Good luck talking it in Spain!!!
Is it really that difficult? I am going out of my way to be sure I'm learning Latin American Spanish with a very Mexican-specific accent. As a U.S. resident, I can't imagine what use you'll have for a Spain accent and vocabulary in the U.S. I have probably encountered tens of thousands of Spanish-speaking people here in the U.S. and not one has been from Spain. As a matter of fact, the largest population of Spanish-speaking people in the world is not from Spain, but rather, Mexico. This is particularly of importance when living in a country which borders Mexico!

Of course, in my profession as a public school teacher I also encounter many Spanish speakers from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and occasionally Venezuela or Costa Rica.

Actually, the only Spaniard I've ever spoken with in person lives in Spain -- in Malaga -- and we speak via Skype. I love the Spanish accent (it is so clear and crisp), but it's just not practical to learn that as my "first" form of Spanish here in Texas!

That said, I want to travel to Spain and I surely hope that I'm not totally lost with my primarily Latin American vocabulary! (I use the term "vocabulary" loosely, as I'm still a beginner)

-Michael
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Old 29th August 2007, 10:11 PM   #31
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Is it really that difficult? I am going out of my way to be sure I'm learning Latin American Spanish with a very Mexican-specific accent.

That said, I want to travel to Spain and I surely hope that I'm not totally lost with my primarily Latin American vocabulary! (I use the term "vocabulary" loosely, as I'm still a beginner)

-Michael
I wouldn't worry about it. I'm puerto rican and I've travelled to Spain several times with no issues. Granted, my accent tends to drift slightly in the direction of Spain while I'm there. However, my suspicion is that there are enough Latin Americans in Spain that this isn't an issue and hasn't been for some time.

In 2004, my wife and I were in Milan, Italy and happened upon some cleaning folks in a shopping area. They were from South America and upon hearing my wife's (broken) spanish, directed her to simply find the cleaners whenever she might need some help (directions, translation, etc) since they were mostly spanish-speakers. While we never needed the help, it was nice to know the safety cushion was there.

If Latin Americans are that prevalent in Italy, I can only imagine there must be plenty working in Spain as well.

As a real-world comparison, my wife is portuguese. Here in Hartford, CT we have a fair amount Portuguese as well as Brazilians. Additionally, the local portuguese church has a priest from Angola; he is joined by regular visitors from his home country. While accents may get in the way sometimes (and then only minimally), they can certainly make themselves understood.

Paco may be referring to vocabulary. If you go into the situation fully cognizant of the differences, you'll be fine. I'm not entirely fluent, but my sense is that advanced (native) speakers may sometimes need to "downshift" to a more basic, paced spanish. But they'll be able to converse easily.
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Old 31st August 2007, 10:52 PM   #32
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I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make my point here as it may sound like defeatist nonsense.

First time I've read this thread and I like all the points made by people about a drinking, total immersion, reading, watching the tele, going to the pictures etc. I think I do most of them.

The trouble is I can feel better about progress and then I try to have a conversation and it becomes one huge, disjointed mess. I am reduced to a list of "me Tarzan, you Jane" words in any old order and it can destroy my confidence for days.

I'm having trouble with an insurance claim on my car and I think I may well end up scrapping the car because every phone call to anyone who may be able to help becomes so pathetic that I just daren't try again. The lack of confidence engendered by that and similar situations means I end up being unable to ask for a beer! So it's a viscious downward spiral. Other than not speaking, or doing what most of the Brit community around here do, blame the language and the Spaniards and only speak to other Brits, I just don't know how to get around this. Hypnosis, brain transplant?

It really does drive me potty.
The fact that you are trying means that you're going to improve so don't give up.Any one who has learned/learning spanish will tell you that using the telephone is very hard because it's often not clear and there is no body language.I found that after a frustrating year struggeling to learn it suddenly "clicked" in my head,as for conversational spanish i can chat and chat, but i didnt take any lessons(which i now regret).To be honest after 2 and a half years in spain i still use direct line(linea directa),also the kind of conversation you will have with an insurance salesman will be using lots of words that you rarely hear let alone use!!!"poko a poko" the effort now is greatly rewarded by the friendships you will make and the respect you will get for being the "englishman" who's actually taken the time to learn.As for learning i talked to as many people as i could in bars, shops etc,and watched tv as much as i could without my head exploding!!!I also found that my ability to talk spanish varied greatly from day to day, so don't be disheartend if you have a bad day or two.As for making mistakes I found them the best way to learn because lets be honest nobody likes feeling stupid,and most decent people will respect the fact you're trying and correct you. This is only my point of view and i'm no expert but still i hope it helps....Best of luck!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 31st August 2007, 10:59 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Culebronchris View Post
I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make my point here as it may sound like defeatist nonsense.

First time I've read this thread and I like all the points made by people about a drinking, total immersion, reading, watching the tele, going to the pictures etc. I think I do most of them.

The trouble is I can feel better about progress and then I try to have a conversation and it becomes one huge, disjointed mess. I am reduced to a list of "me Tarzan, you Jane" words in any old order and it can destroy my confidence for days.

I'm having trouble with an insurance claim on my car and I think I may well end up scrapping the car because every phone call to anyone who may be able to help becomes so pathetic that I just daren't try again. The lack of confidence engendered by that and similar situations means I end up being unable to ask for a beer! So it's a viscious downward spiral. Other than not speaking, or doing what most of the Brit community around here do, blame the language and the Spaniards and only speak to other Brits, I just don't know how to get around this. Hypnosis, brain transplant?

It really does drive me potty.
The fact that you are trying means that you're going to improve so don't give up.Any one who has learned/learning spanish will tell you that using the telephone is very hard because it's often not clear and there is no body language.I found that after a frustrating year struggeling to learn it suddenly "clicked" in my head,as for conversational spanish i can chat and chat, but i didnt take any lessons(which i now regret).To be honest after 2 and a half years in spain i still use direct line(linea directa),also the kind of conversation you will have with an insurance salesman will be using lots of words that you rarely hear let alone use!!!"poko a poko" the effort now is greatly rewarded by the friendships you will make and the respect you will get for being the "englishman" who's actually taken the time to learn.As for learning i talked to as many people as i could in bars, shops etc,and watched tv as much as i could without my head exploding!!!I also found that my ability to talk spanish varied greatly from day to day, so don't be disheartend if you have a bad day or two.As for making mistakes I found them the best way to learn because lets be honest nobody likes feeling stupid,and most decent people will respect the fact you're trying and correct you. This is only my point of view and i'm no expert but still i hope it helps....Best of luck!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 31st August 2007, 11:04 PM   #34
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The 'Double Submit Syndrome' strikes another thread!!
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Old 31st August 2007, 11:05 PM   #35
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Is it The Terminator?
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Old 17th September 2007, 09:26 PM   #36
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Is it really that difficult? I am going out of my way to be sure I'm learning Latin American Spanish with a very Mexican-specific accent. As a U.S. resident, I can't imagine what use you'll have for a Spain accent and vocabulary in the U.S.
Crap, that's discouraging. I expect to use my Spanish mostly in the U.S., Mexico and possibly Latin America, but all the books/CDs/learning programs I've found so far (including Notes in Spanish) teach the language Spain-style.

A fellow student of mine who is bilingual with family from Mexico told me that, in her experience, the dialects don't totally preclude understanding. She said a Latin American speaking in Spain is like an American speaking in the U.K.

I just hope I'm not totally screwed if I learn the basics from Spain-oriented programs . . . it's hard to learn Spanish from Telemundo alone!
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Old 17th September 2007, 10:28 PM   #37
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Crap, that's discouraging.

I just hope I'm not totally screwed if I learn the basics from Spain-oriented programs . . . it's hard to learn Spanish from Telemundo alone!
Don't let these comments dissuade you!

I'm Puerto Rican, but not fluent enough to make this argument since I speak spanish more slowly than typical puerto ricans. My parents are entirely fluent, though. I took my mother to Spain in 2002. She had no problems understanding the Spaniards. They, in turn, understood her easily.

I will concede that there was likely a time or two when someone had to repeat themselves due to accents or some other regional variance.

IMHO, the idea that spanish-speakers from one part of the world wouldn't understand spanish-speakers from another is pretty ridiculous.
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Old 18th September 2007, 03:37 PM   #38
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IMHO, the idea that spanish-speakers from one part of the world wouldn't understand spanish-speakers from another is pretty ridiculous.
I agree whole-heartedly. I studied Spanish throughout middle and high school in Missouri and it was definitely Latin American centered. There wasn't a vosotros in sight. Most of my college professors were also from Central or South America but when I chose to study abroad in Madrid all of the professors were obviously Spanish. I picked up the accent basically without a hitch and after living here for about 3 years I speak with a Spain-Spanish accent and vocabulary. The transition was fairly smooth.

Similarly, my husband is Spanish and we've travelled to both Mexico and the Dominican Republic. He was definitely in his element and was completely able to speak with the locals. Save a few minor vocabularly gaffs (like coger un taxi in Mexico) the communication between Spanish speakers from all over the world is, I think, not overly difficult.
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Old 18th September 2007, 03:41 PM   #39
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coger un taxi in Mexico
What was wrong with that?
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Old 18th September 2007, 03:59 PM   #40
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What was wrong with that?
Coger down Mexico way means to have intimate relations with(in a manner of speaking). Bit strange with a taxi-but there are some funny people about.
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