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I was just wondering, is it too hard, I mean, what's the average number of months, days or such it takes until you can sort of understand when someone speaks in spanish to you?

  • Posted Oct 30, 2009
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7 Answers

1 Vote

It depends on the person who is learning and the person who is speaking. If someone is talented in language acquisition, it could be a matter of a few days with full immersion, or a few weeks with concentrated effort while living not fully immersed. If the person who is speaking to the language learner is speaking clearly and not using slang, it is much easier for the learner to understand. Personally, I have always gotten a kick out of people who presume they are "fluent" after a couple of years of academic study. Once in awhile there is a very talented learner, such as the young man in Lima, Peru, who speaks 12 languages. However, for most people, true fluency - which is defined as complete comfort in the language and total understandability to native speakers - is only achieved after a lengthy period of immersion. In fact, some of the most talented non-native speakers of Spanish I know still do not consider themselves "fluent".

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I would have to agree with mountain girl. True fluency will probably take quite a long time of really using it regularly. Its possible you may be one of those gifted language learners. I notice you think of yourself as mostly fluent in Hindi. This is an advantage, as knowing more than one language can make learning another one that much easier.

I would also add that I do not believe fluency in a language is necessary to be able to communicate well enough to have a great time using it! I don't think of myself as fluent after a number of years using it quite a bit every day. (It is not uncommon for friends or family to ask me: 'Are you fluent yet?' Conversational, yes. Fluent, no.) I'm sure I'll get there someday, but until then... What a BLAST! cool smile

Two suggestions: 1) Don't give up if you feel you've hit a plateau. Learning may come in phases or spurts. Just keep using what you know and learning more. 2) Don't give up if you feel you've done or said something embarrassing due to not knowing the language well enough. red face Is there anyone out there who has never had one of those embarrassing moments? If so, I would bet they haven't actually yet talked to a native speaker. It takes humility to swallow your pride and maybe laugh with everyone else, but it will be worth it in the end.

  • thanks for the answers, I'm definitely interested in learning spanish, at least the basics. - Mya_99 Oct 30, 2009 flag
  • Yeah......It is a blast! Let's not forget how much fun all this is. I like your style Chaparrito - patch Oct 31, 2009 flag
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Sorry to double post, but I am reflecting on the part of your question if it is "too hard"... If learning another language is for mere external reward, then it's possible it will be too hard. However, if you are learning for your own satisfaction - for example, you want to make Spanish-speaking friends - then it won't be too hard. "Poco a poco se anda lejos" - The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Good luck! You can do it!

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I agree with MountainGirl, and I'd like to add, it depends on how much time and effort you're willing to dedicate to learning. Travel to Mexico is extremely helpful; the people are wonderful and eager to help anyone who is interested in their language. At home, take every opportunity. Use this site for many opportunities to learn. Take high school or college courses in Spanish. Read Spanish books (especially children's books), newspapers and magazines. In stores, read and learn the bilingual signs in Spanish. Listen to Spanish radio and TV stations to learn colloquial expressions. When you play DVD-based movies, select Spanish with English subtitles. Even if you don't understand, let the sounds wash over you and try to mimic the sounds of what you can understand. Seek out Spanish-speaking friends and work with them (and help them with their English). If you have a GPS, set it to speak Spanish (right, MountainGirl?). While you're cutting the grass or washing the car, think about how you would pose statements or questions in Spanish. As for me, I have been studying Spanish this way for 1/2 dozen years. I don't consider myself truly fluent, but I can easily converse on ordinary subjects when in Mexico. Best of luck, Eeeker

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I agree with MountainGirl very much, but i also have many things to say of my own in rewording and addition to it. It depends on your efficiency as a learner partially, and has a lot to do with how committed you are to learning a language. You should practice the language every day and test around to find the best practice methods to you.Two of my suggestions for techniques are enrolling in a class and the rosetta stone cd's. One of the best methods for practicing for sure, however, is practicing with someone who speaks enough spanish, especially with someone almost fluent in the language. In my home I have many people who speak spanish, and I practice Spanish with them every day, so if you have people you know who speak spanish that you see often, you have a great advantage. It takes a surprisingly little time till you can start understanding some important basics when you hear and read spanish, but it takes many years to become fluent. A few years isn't good enough, you need, probably around at least six. And once you stop enrolling in classes you need to still practice the language or you will forget most of it. This has happened to many people I know with languages. There are many other little methods as well, such as setting your phone and ipod if you have one to spanish. Also websites you know well. Because if you know your phone or a website well enough you will know what it is saying and if you repeatedly keep seeing the same thing in spanish, these words and phrases will become very familiar to you. Overall, spanish is a very rewarding language to learn. Pronunciations in spanish are not complicated either, and many words are similar to in English. Spanish is a great option, and I believe anyone can learn it. It takes different levels of effort and time for everybody. To become fluent in any second language is a commitment. Not neccessarily very difficult if you try, but takes patience and real wanting to learn it. grin

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If you want to be fluent in a language, it really takes a tremendous dedication. There absolutely has to be some level of immersion if you are ever going to be able to hear and understand the spoken language. As mentioned already, the more immersion, the faster you learn. There are several learned skills in language acquisition, not the least of which are being able to read the language, write the language, speak the language and of course, hear and interpret the language. I can tell you this, those skills don't progress at the same level, at least not for me. I happen to know a lady that has studied Spanish for years, and I literally mean years. She knows the grammar, all the 'rules', but she cannot carry on a conversation in Spanish, she can't understand what's being spoken to her, and she can't respond either. I have really marveled at her because when it comes to the rules, she is like a walking text book.

My goal is to reach a level of competency where I can comfortably converse in Spanish. After nearly two years of dedicated study and practice, I can communicate reasonably well, but I'm a long ways away from being fluent. I'm not too far away from being comfortable.

If I had not started on my language quest, I would not have met some really wonderful people, or enjoyed some gloriously delicious food. This really is a fun journey!

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There are several threads on this topic that you might want to look up in the Reference Section. This is a question most people want to have answered if they are serious about becoming fluent.

Just be encouraged that you can do it!! Instead of focusing on being fluent, begin each day with the goal of making as many improvements at possible. Break down the different aspects of learning a language, such as reading, writing, speaking, hearing, etc. and work on these areas daily. If you are having difficulties understanding spoken Spanish, record a telenovela or Spanish news program. Set a goal of being able to understand one or two phrases or sentences, just for today. Tomorrow, increase that goal by several phrases. By the end of the week, you will be surprised just how much better your grasp of Spoken Spanish will be. Do this with each area you would like to improve.

You will be more encouraged if you see yourself improving in small ways each day. Then, before you know it, (whether it takes months or years) you will be able to say you are fluent in Spanish.

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