HomeQ&Athe journey to speaking with confidence

the journey to speaking with confidence

3
votes

One thing I love about this website is the inspiration and encouragement knowing others are trying and succeeding in learning Spanish. The term "fluent" can mean different things - but if you feel fairly confident and are able to make yourself understood and carry on conversations (even if you have to search for a word now and then or ask the meaning of things at times), would you share with me how you personally got to that point? The methods used, what worked best for you personally, at what age you started and how many years it took to get to where you are? I know it would help me keep my eyes on the prize to hear those personal stories! Thank you so much!

3912 views
updated ABR 9, 2012
posted by kittybrougham
Great question! - --Mariana--, OCT 19, 2009

6 Answers

3
votes

I was home schooled for much of my early school years before high school and during this time, I was introduced to several different languages including Spanish. When I got into high school I took a year of French and then two years of Spanish. This gave me a very rudimentary understanding of the language. While I was in high school, I used to ride the bus home and I was fortunate enough to have some kids who rode the bus that did not speak any English. During the bus ride home I would sometimes engage them in conversation. They were very receptive to this and I think that they appreciated me trying to talk to them as much as I appreciated them helping me with my Spanish. It actually was a great experience because after I got to know them a bit, I would often invite them to play basketball with me and some of my other friends from the neighborhood who before this would pretty much ostracize the Spanish speaking kids, but once we started playing basketball together, the whole atmosphere changed for the better.

After high school, I took a summer job working in a restaurant, and there was a lady that worked there who was originally from Mexico who was generous enough to let me practice my Spanish on her and to ask her all kinds of dumb questions in Spanish. After that I worked in a grocery store and found myself quickly promoted to the position of low-level manager. While working there I was in charge of about a dozen or so employees who didn't really speak much English along with a few bilingual employees from Guatemala and El Salvador. Having to manage so many employees who did not speak English really improved and challenged my speaking ability, especially when I found myself on several occasions having to play peacemaker between the different factions made up of the Salvadoran immigrants and the Guatemalan immigrants (who knew that they didn't like each other?).

By the time I quit that job, I was speaking Spanish fairly fluently (by this I mean I was able to pretty much understand what was said and say what I wanted to say without having to first mentally cross-check the meaning in English). After this, I went through about a 12 year period where I did not study, speak or listen to Spanish, and let me just tell you when they say "use it or lose it" they are not kidding.

I can't speak or understand what is said even half as well as I could when I was young (although, interestingly, I can read at a fairly high level and perhaps even better than I could as a young man). For the last six or seven months I have simply been striving to regain what I have lost. Along they way, I am hoping that I can pass along a bit of what I know/learn to my children. I will let you know how it all turns out. grin

updated OCT 27, 2009
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
That really is a most interesting story - I wish you the very best of luck in your endeavours! - Jespa, OCT 19, 2009
4
votes

I am only just beginning in Spanish so I, too, haven't reached that point.

However when learning French and German, I found that the important thing was not to worry about the technical perfection of your speech, but simply to dive in with goodwill and a sense of humor. Native speakers of a language, I have found, are usually so impressed that you have attempted to learn their language at all that they will forgive any mistakes and love to help you learn.

So throw away your inhibitions and simply do your best with a smile. The more you practice, the better you will be.

updated ENE 7, 2012
posted by sheila-foster
2
votes

I have been learning Spanish at the college level for over two years now. The beginning was very easy for me....however speaking and listening was not. I am now able to read short stories with the help of a dictionary and this site. I will also say that since using this site, all facets of it, my grade has improved by two letter grades. I spend about six hours a day working on Spanish. Luckily, I have a full scholarship and do not have to work while going to school. I do feel sometimes that I don't get enough time with my little one, but I know in the end that it will pay off. I have my days, however, when I feel like I will never be 'fluent.' I have to just let these pass. I also watch a lot of Spanish t.v. smile Read, read, read, read and write, write, write, write....as much as you can!! Peace Kitty smile

updated OCT 19, 2009
edited by sunshinzmommie
posted by sunshinzmommie
2
votes

I started out studying Spanish in college. I made it through the 300 level classes but so little emphasis was place on talking in Spanish that I could say very little. I ended up using Platiquemos - which is a series of 55 - 1 hour cd's. They are very challanging and I did each one about 6 times during my commute to work or when doing chores around the house. This way, I didn't have to use much of my precious time. This greatly improved my confidence, ability to make gramatical choices without having to put in much on the spot thinking and my pronounciation. To improve my vocabulary, I read Spanish stories to my kids. This works well for slowly introducing new vocabulary (since kids stories are usually simple) and I watch childeren's movies in Spanish. I talk with people every time I can in Spanish and I'm starting to read novels and magazienes in Spanish - always with the laptop on my lap looking up words as I go. If you can find a friend who will chat with you iy is a huge help you really need to communicate in the new language on a regular basis. At my house, we have Spanish hour every day usually around dinner when we're all together. Anyway, it's a lot of work but it's paid off. Every time I communicate with a native speaker, they are amazed at how well I speak.

updated OCT 19, 2009
posted by mariana538
Fabulous! - --Mariana--, OCT 19, 2009
Wow - that IS inspiring! - kittybrougham, OCT 19, 2009
2
votes

Sheila said:

So throw away your inhibitions and simply do your best with a smile. The more you practice, the better you will be.

That's how I learned to speak Spanish. I got out in the real world away from my books and just kept on talking and talking!

updated OCT 19, 2009
posted by --Mariana--
How long did it take for you Marianne? - kittybrougham, OCT 19, 2009
I'd say it was after almost 8 months of lots of studying that I began speaking to other people. Before that I talked aloud to myself and my dog to practice.. - --Mariana--, OCT 19, 2009
0
votes

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updated ABR 9, 2012
posted by 00235fbe
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