At what point can I consider myself to be an intermediate Spanish speaker?

9
votes

At what point can I consider myself to be an intermediate Spanish speaker?

56466 views
updated SEP 26, 2010
posted by AKAngela
Fabulous advice...thanks, All!!

14 Answers

8
votes

In learning a new language ( or most things for that matter), people are labeled as beginner, intermediate, advanced, etc. I have found within these groups, there are also varying levels. For instance, someone who knows absolutely no Spanish would be called a beginner. However, someone who knows a handful of basic words and phrases can also be called a beginner.

This is only my opinion, but I think that you have reached the intermediate level once you are able to carry on basic conversation and have a general understanding of what you are reading in Spanish. More importantly, I think you have reached the intermediate level when you are in a position to help others learn...namely, the beginners.

updated SEP 25, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
That was gonna be my comment. Word for word. Darn it. Can we say darn in here?
Good answer!
el darn ito is acceptable.
Better be careful saying that, there could be a big run on darn usage around here.
darn tootin'! ;-)
Ok, that's pushin'it. We're gonna have to tone that down. ;)
7
votes

It probably depends on who is doing the labeling...

Bill had been earnestly studying Spanish for a couple of years when he overheard a group of neophyte Spanish students proudly showing off with their new skills by talking to each other in Spanish. Upon hearing their conversation, he stopped and reflected, "I sure am glad my Spanish isn't so horrible as that anymore."

The next day, Bill went down to a local carnecería and tried to strike up a conversation with the friendly old carnicero who ran the shop. They talked together in Spanish for a couple of minutes while Bill placed his order. Bill left the shop with a sense of pride that he had finally broken through to becoming a decent speaker of Spanish. Meanwhile, the kindly old carnicero watched and chuckled to himself thinking, "I didn't understand a word that crazy gringo just said."

On the bus home that afternoon, the carnicero sat beside a grammar teacher from la ciudad. They had a brief conversation until it was time for the teacher to get off. As he was exiting the bus, the teacher began cataloging the mistakes in the old man's speech so that he could use these in class the next day as examples for his students.

Everybody has their own ideas about how well they understand a language, and depending on who you talk to, you will likely find that you at any one point in time speak the language: horribly, poorly, as a beginner, with difficulty, OK, well, fairly, decently, at an intermediate level, very well, exceptionally, at an advanced level, wonderfully, seamlessly, magnificently, fluently, etc.

Just remember that there is never going to be a time when you can't become better or learn more, so have fun with it, keep learning, and don't get too caught up on labels. (unless, of course, you are applying for a job--In this case always check the label: fluent tongue wink)

updated DIC 21, 2010
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
Very true!
Wow, there should be a bible verse to go along with that. I think I may have shed a tear.
I ilke this story.
6
votes

Well...let me give you a very wordy, everyday kinda explaination. First of all, did you ever notice how everyone says, "I wanna speak spanish", but no one says "I wanna understand spanish when I hear it" You never hear that one, do you? You may have a talent for voices, you may be able to copy the accent perfectly. So does that make you a good spanish speaker? Sure does. Now, if you were in amoungst me and my friends, and you said "Como estan todo el mundo?" in a perfect accent and ritmo, and when we all get to talking at once, will you catch it? I personally tend to speak very rapidly, and if you speak to me like that, I'm gonna talk to you like I talk to everyone else in spanish...very rapidly, with all kinds of words and combinations that they never teach in college. And I'm gonna know, and so are my friends, by the end of the first sentence, whether you can "speak" spanish, or more importantly, understand the words coming out of my mouth. I'll give you a very good example...my one friend, a guy from Guatemala, said to me today, "did you know Hung (a vietnamese) speaks spanish?" I said "No he don't!!!" Irving says, yea he does, go talk to him. So I go over to hung and I say "Tu hablas espanol?" Without even missing a beat, and it was all noisy and the radio was blasting, he says to me "Yup." None of this "can you repeat that? What? Huh?" So that I go at him, "Donde lo aprendiste? Cuantos anos lo hablaste?" Well turns out he didn't speak well at all...but he UNDERSTOOD perfectly. So...what is it you are looking for? To speak? or to understand? wink

updated MAR 29, 2014
posted by ChamacoMalo
That's funny! I know a lot of people like that.
what would some of those words/combinations that they dont teach you in college be?
just combinations of words....I can't telll you of the top of my head...they are just ways people talk and you yourself will use with time.
a guy today called bullcrap "hizo" I never heard it before, but I knew what he meant. That happens all time in real life spanish.
5
votes

I think it depends, too, on what form of communication you are measuring. I can read La Opinion from front to back without little difficulty. I can assemble in writing a decent paragraph on most topics. I have friends from Mexico and Colombia with whom I can even correspond by IM although I can hear in my mind their fingers tapping while they await responses from me sometimes. At the same time, I am reading "Cien Años de Soledad" and it is very slow going (I need to look up at least a word or two on every page) but I'm not sure that wouldn't be true of many native speakers. It is, after all, a Nobel Prize winner.

I can understand much spoken Spanish if the words are well articulated but when I hear Cubans and Puerto Ricans I'm lost after the third or fourth word because they speak so rapidly. I have a better understanding of technical Spanish grammer than my wife who is a native speaker but no one would ever consider my own spoken Spanish fluent. Nevertheless, I can communicate effectively even if slowly.

So what am I? Beginner, probably not, intermediate? Maybe. Fluent? Certainly not in speech but possibly in writing. I think it is like learning to play poker. It's one thing to memorize what hands beat other hands. Yet it takes a lifetime to learn to play the game really well. But half the fun is getting there, meeting new people and stretching your brain some.

updated MAR 29, 2014
posted by ocbizlaw
4
votes

One of my high school Spanish teachers said you could consider yourself advanced when you start having dreams in that language and the Spanish that's spoken in the dream makes sense.

updated SEP 26, 2010
posted by mctague
I have had dreams in Spanish that make perfect sense -- and I am still a beginner.
I've had dreams in Spanish and understood nothing.
Wow! When can I start dreaming?
I should amend my comment about dreaming . . . it's when you can dream and use the subjunctive properly :)
What is the subjunctive?
Haha I've dreamed in Spanish, too.
3
votes

It probably depends on who is doing the labeling...

I had a similar experience recently. I was riding the subway and next to me were an Afro-American male (probably in his forties) and and (what I would have assumed to be) an Afro-American female (in her twenties). He knew only English but had a friend/relative in France who had been suggesting that that he (the former) come to live in France but he (the latter) had concerns about the difficulty of learning French). The young woman stated that she was fluent in French and (at least very good in Spanish). She then stated (what caught my attention) that Japanese was also very easy to learn/speak.

A few sentences later she offered an opinion related to Japan with which I disagreed. To express my disagreement I offered a comment (several paragraphs) in Japanese. She offered no direct response but suggested to the man that I could explain in English what I had just said in Japanese. I am quite convinced that, despite her claim that Japanese was "easy", she had understood little/nothing of what I said (on the other hand, I applaud her presence of mind in not attempting to explain what I had said but to suggest that I should be the one to do so) thus, I suspect, hiding the fact that she had understood nothing of what I said.

Unfortunately, the subway ride was not long enough for me to have the opportunity to test (in a similar manner) her statements about her proficiency in Spanish/French. My gut feeling was that her French was probably quite respectable (probably better than mine) but that she probably overestimated her knowledge of Spanish and certainly overestimated the "easiness" of Japanese.

Ultimately, (unless you are applying for a job and it figures in your "qualifications") the opinion of others is irrelevant. What matters is your own degree of comfort in another language. Can you say (so that you are understood) what you want to say? Can you understand what those (with whom you wish to converse) say to you? This may not be some people's idea of fluency but, to my mind, does constitute a "working knowledge" of the language.

updated SEP 25, 2009
posted by samdie
2
votes

Yeah, I am still a beginner. Maybe it wouldn't seem like it... but yes, it's true. I understand, and can write Spanish okay, but when it comes to talking... not at all. My problem is I am too shy.

updated OCT 10, 2009
posted by NikkiLR
2
votes

I have conversations in Spanish all the time -- 3 today! I have come to the conclusion that "I will always be a beginner".

updated SEP 25, 2009
posted by Daniel
I feel your pain.
No, no it's not pain or anything I feel bad about -- it's great to tell stories and have dinner's in Spanish.
2
votes

I would say when you can sustain a basic conversation.

updated SEP 25, 2009
posted by 00b83c38
2
votes

I thought that we had a concensus and had decided to do away with the intermidiate ranking. Weren't we just going to go from beginner to fluent once the course was completed?

updated SEP 25, 2009
posted by Seitheach
I like that idea phil
1
vote

Six months ago I would listen to spanish dialogue, and, at the end of some sentences I would hear laughing and think to myself, "Oh that must have been a joke.". Now...sometimes...I actually "catch on" to humour. Do I consider myself to be out of the "beginner" arena? Not by a long shot!

What will the test for myself be? When I can write this very post - in Spanish :o

Annie.

updated MAY 19, 2011
posted by nonombre
1
vote

However, someone who knows a handful of basic words and phrases can also be called a beginner.

They're also called "false beginners" as they have already had some contact with the language.

updated SEP 26, 2009
posted by Issabela
I have never heard that term.
I have. It is quite common amongst teachers.
1
vote

I understand completely the nervousness when it comes to speaking and conversing. I have been through that for years and still go through it.

But, the truth is, this one of those things where the only way through it is through it, if that makes any sense.

I am lucky in that I work in a public library deep in the heart of our Hispanic community and use my Spanish everyday at work.

I have spent most of my life focusing on grammar and 'how do you say' kinds of things. And I am constantly learning more ... I feel like you can never stop learning ... even native speakers are always learning.

Also, mi mejor amiga quien trabaja conmigo, es de Puerto Rico y nosotros hablamos en Español cuando podamos smile

¡Tener un amigo con quien puede practicar es maravilloso!

updated SEP 25, 2009
posted by jonnyt1963
0
votes

For me it's when you start moving from working on grammar to working more on fluency.

In other words, you don't have to concentrate on verb conjugations, el, la, etc. The mechanics start to become more and more automatic with practice. Then it's all about learning more vocabulary and idoms, idioms, idioms smile

updated SEP 25, 2009
posted by jonnyt1963