I purchased Rosetta Stone to help me learn Spanish but the average Mexican I try to talk with tell me that I am using words they dont use. All I want is to be able to communicate with the average guy. Not to learn the formal language. Do you teach Spanish formal or in formal?
You say that you just want to be able to communicate with the average guy and not learn the Spanish language in any formal way.
The best way to do that would be to go and live with a family in a Spanish Speaking country like Spain, South or Central America (except Brazil where Brazilian Portguese is the principal langauge spoken)
In this way you would learn the language like a child by listening and imitating the sounds you hear. However, at some point in time even young children learn how to write their own language following the rules and so progress towards greater fluency.
You can make a certain, and limited amount of progress withut learning any language formally but it is unliklely that you or anyone else will ever learn to communicate with other people with any degree of accuracy, confidence or clarity without first learning some basic rules of grammer concerning the use of verbs.
eg: I would like a drink of water = Quiero una bebida de agua
Would you give me some water,please? = ¿Quieres darme agua, por favor ? / ¿Quieres darme algo de agua, por favor ?
While you do not have to be totally fluent in any language to get your point across if you cannot use verbs and ask simple questions you would have to depend mostly on body language which can leave people's attempts to communicate very open to misunderstanding.
Interesting. I talk with Mexicans all the time and I learned most of my Spanish from 5 levels of Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish. I have been told that the way I speak is formal, that my pronunciation is very good, that I speak very well, all of which make me very happy.
A Mexican friend of mine has given me a lot of bad advice the last couple of years, and I've discovered that, just because he said it doesn't make it so. He is illiterate, he can't read or write Spanish, nor can he read or write English. So, I have to take his advice with a grain of salt (or two). I didn't know this about him for the longest time, and one day I was asking him some things about language and such, and he confided in me that he couldn't read or write, and that he had never attended a day of school in his life.
When working in a payroll office with one of my clients, they were trying to communicate with this Mexican man which, no one, including me, could understand him. We called in a supervisor from the plant that was Mexican and was fluent in English as well. He couldn't understand him either. I don't remember which part of Mexican the first guy came from, but I was amazed that there wasn't another Mexican there that could understand him.
We have members here from México, some that have gone to Spanish school in México, and some that go there on missions trips every year. We certainly cover Mexican Spanish here.
We also have members and contributors from Spain, Argentina, Chile, and others.
What you will learn on this site is regular, run of the mill, but grammatically correct Spanish that ought to be useful everywhere, though it won't include much in the way of slang or street talk. We do discuss regional differences in pronunciation and word choices.
But correct Spanish is correct Spanish. We've got that here.
Benton, specifically which words or types of words are you using that they don't use? There could be reasons beyond their being "formal" why your Mexican friends don't use them: they are used principally in another region, you are using them incorrectly, or these specific friends just don't use these specific words on a daily basis.
If you want to be able to communicate with other people, even at a very basic level, my experience has been that you have to learn more formal styles of speech as well as casual or more slangy styles. The two are generally not vastly different, and they are so interconnected that you really can't consider them as completely separate types of Spanish. It's true that when I hear some people speak (usually young people), they use so much slang it can be tough to follow if you don't know the words, but the grammar and basic vocabulary are going to be similar, if not completely the same.
Furthermore, it seems to me that Spanish is a little more formal than English in a grammatical sense. It seems that the language generally "follows the rules" more often than English does. (But it isn't necessarily more formal in other senses).
I know what you mean! And I have tried Roseta Stone. Try to get your money back. This site is better and more comprehensive. Then start reading Mexican authors and newspapers. If your friends are here in the U.S., the best paper is La Opinion. It is a Los Angeles paper but there is an online version.