HomeQ&AThe Spanish in my head not does out come right.

The Spanish in my head not does out come right.

7
votes

Hola.

I met with my Spanish tutor yesterday and we practiced our first question and answer exercise. I was horrible, I was fumbling and bumbling around trying to put the Spanish in my head in the right order. I have been reading and writing Spanish every day for at least an hour, and listening to movies in Spanish.

After we talked, he illustrated what is going on in my head when I'm trying to speak Spanish.

Brain --> Idea --> English --> Spanish

So my brain knows what I want to say, has an idea, puts it together in English and then translates it into Spanish. My tutor says it should be the other way around. To put it together in Spanish and then ask yourself if it makes sense.

So what I have been doing is visualizing a Spanish sentence in my head first, then speaking it. Does that sound like a good idea, or solid path to learning to speak it without fumbling?

2476 views
updated ENE 31, 2010
edited by 0057ed01
posted by elsalsero
Hope you don't mind, but I shifted the word "right" to the end of your title and removed a comma. It seems a bit clearer that way and should get more responses, because we all suffer from that "affliction." - 0057ed01, ENE 31, 2010

8 Answers

6
votes

It's very difficult to learn how to think in Spanish just by studying the language (memorizing vocabulary, learning verb conjugations, and the rules of grammar).

It's quite possible to earn straight A's in a formal course, but if the instruction is not coupled with many conversational opportunities, little of what's learned will have much meaning.

In fact, knowing too much sometimes inhibits a person from risking speaking because he or she fears making a mistake.

What seems to be missing in your situation are opportunities to converse, informally, with Spanish speakers. Daily would be ideal.

I'd be searching for friends who speak Spanish if I were in your situation.

But even when you've found them, be patient. I went through 5 or 6 years following the frustrating pattern you described so well above.

Then, suddenly, while surrounded solely by Spanish speakers, I began to think directly in Spanish. And even better, to dream in Spanish.

I've read that it takes 10 to 12 years to become fluent in a foreign language. It certainly doesn't come quickly, as almost all of the members of this site will attest.

Informal conversation in real-life situations is the key to success to thinking spontaneously in Spanish.

Buena suerte, elsalsero.

And thanks for a thoughtful, well-phrased question.

updated DIC 8, 2010
edited by 0057ed01
posted by 0057ed01
5
votes

Jeezzle said:

It took my mom just a few months of living in Mexico. You just have to totally surround yourself with Spanish.

I agree with this and think it is the final piece of the puzzle. I have been to Spanish speaking countries quite a few times, but never for more than a week or so. During those weeks, my Spanish improves two to three times as quickly. I am hoping that one day in the future I can stay for longer periods of time in order to achieve my goals.

For now, I understand what you are saying about thinking in Spanish. I have found that there are certain common sentences or phrases that I bypass the English thought process with. I can do this with sentences that make sense to me. I can also do it with expressions or phrases that don't make sense like: "de vez en cuando" which when I originally broke it down thought it meant "of time in when", but now can think of it as a whole...:"from time to time" or "occasionally". It just takes a lot of time and repetition.

updated ENE 31, 2010
posted by Nicole-B
Y E P ! - ian-hill, ENE 31, 2010
Most likely, those phrases are the ones you use most frequently in real life situations? - 0057ed01, ENE 31, 2010
Me too, I don't need ot translate the things I know. - BellaMargarita, ENE 31, 2010
4
votes

The biggest break in my Spanish studies was when I finally learned how to break the bad habit of translating from English into Spanish then trying to speak what I just translated. There's never really a cognitive flow doing it that way. When I began composing sentences in Spanish, it helped me to think in Spanish, and when I began to think more in Spanish, my sentence composition began to improve. It's kind of a circular thing I guess. All my Spanish speaking friends want to speak English, but when I'm with them I "force" them to speak Spanish to me, I refuse to speak English. I guess what I'm saying is, I'm forcing myself into Spanish conversations to practice my Spanish language skills.

At church, there is an elderly lady there, a retired college professor from Colombia, and I've never been able to understand her. She just talks so fast it seems. Anyway, today was kind of exciting in that, I got to have a conversation with this sweet lady today, completely in Spanish, fast talking and all. This may sound kind of crazy..... but we were talking about what makes different people happy, and I heard her use the verb "estén" and I thought to myself, Oh my God, I just heard her use the Present Subjunctive, and I knew what she said!!

This stuff will make you crazy. Little victories like this are big things to me.

Think, Think, Think in Spanish, then practice it in real conversations. Your skill will exponentially increase.

updated ENE 31, 2010
posted by Jack-OBrien
When you began composing sentences, did you use a workbook of some kind? Did you just write about anything? What was your thought process, just write about the things you knew? - elsalsero, ENE 31, 2010
2
votes

The Spanish in my head not does out come right.

You think you have a problem Elsa

The Spanish in my head did not GO IN right. grin

updated DIC 8, 2010
posted by ian-hill
:-) - Janice, ENE 31, 2010
2
votes

I agree with Volpon especially about the dangers of becoming "internet proficient". You want to be "conversationally fluent" which typing and just learning words on the internet won't give you. I disagree about the 10-12 years part though. My friend Maria is totally fluent in English and that took her just over 1 year, of course she is thrust in this environment and surrounded by English. I feel I am halfway there to becoming fluent in Spanish after 1 year. It took my mom just a few months of living in Mexico. You just have to totally surround yourself with Spanish.

updated ENE 31, 2010
posted by jeezzle
It all depends on what is meant by "fluent." What I referred to is studies done by linguists. I'm only "adroit" in spoken Spanish if there is such a classification. :) - 0057ed01, ENE 31, 2010
1
vote

volpon wrote:

Informal conversation in real-life situations is the key to success to thinking spontaneously in Spanish.

I wish there was a way to impress this fact on anyone who is trying to learn a language. It...is...the...one...most...important...thing...you...can...do.

updated ENE 31, 2010
posted by Jack-OBrien
1
vote

Oh, I know the feeling - the Spanish in my head never seems to come out right either smile

I think your tutor has a wonderful idea - I am going to try it.

And at least we will both learn from our mistakes wink

updated ENE 31, 2010
posted by sheila-foster
1
vote

Su profesor tiene razón. Creo que esta es una exacta descripción de un aspecto de fluidez- la aptitud pensar en esa lengua.

updated ENE 31, 2010
posted by Goyo
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