HomeQ&ALearning spanish slump.....

Learning spanish slump.....

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Hola,
there must be other people out there who, like me, end up in a slump now and then..... When you feel like you're never going to get anywhere with learning spanish (english/take your pick), when your brain feels like it's going to melt and you're going to scream..... and you just can't force yourself to sit down and do another lesson because what's the point, I'm just not getting it and after nearly a year I still can't speak......
So what do you do to get out of it and gaining some sort of motivation to get on'
I live in Mexico, I have to learn spanish, I want to learn, I don't want to be one of those who live here only speaking english.

4266 views
updated SEP 21, 2008
posted by Mz-Badger

17 Answers

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go for a hike and clear your mind
motivation speaks thru many voices, sometimes just the wind

-JD

updated SEP 21, 2008
posted by Jon-Dunn
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Not advice about how to stop feeling discouraged about lack of progress but, rather, a suggestion for language learning in general. Talk to yourself (i.e. mentally compose/rehearse sentences) in Spanish. This is especially true for people who are inhibited by their fear of making mistakes in an actual conversation. Some people try to plan out their sentences (mentally checking their verb tenses/endings noun/adjective agreements, etc.). This, however, can bring a conversation to a screeching halt. It's generally better to just take the plunge (in an actual conversation). If your interlocutor doesn't understand, he will probably ask question(s) (or at least look puzzled) and you can try an alternate expression. But when talking to yourself, you can take all the time you want to think about grammar, word choices, etc. You also have a chance to work on rhythm/delivery. First you decide on the parts of a sentence. Then you can repeat it to yourself several times picking up the speed each time to get the "flow".

Now days you don't even have to worry that people will think your nuts because they'll probably assume that you're just talking on your cell phone.

updated SEP 21, 2008
posted by samdie
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Been there! Done that! In the 70's I was in San Miguel de Allende, Gto, México. I took drastic measures like not talking to any of the "gringos" unless it was in Spanish. A lot of them started avoiding me thereafter, thinking that I was "snooty". I stopped watching television, reading English, listening to the radio, everything. I stumbled many times by not being able to say exactly what I wanted. I carried a dictionary everywhere. If I didn't know a word, I would spend much time explaining it the best I could until the person I was speaking with understood and told me the word. I wrote down ten new words a day. Gradually, I realized that I didn't have to explain so much and people were understanding me. I would "invent" words that I later found to be in the dictionary. I thought that was pretty cool. And then I got a Spanish Scrabble® game (I still have it) and was actually able to win a fair number of games. The tiles included "ll", "ch", and "ñ". To this day, although I am fluent, I still write down 10 words a day and read a couple of newspapers. I prefer Spanish over English and use it whenever I can.

updated SEP 21, 2008
posted by DonBigoteDeLaLancha
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Try lots of different ways of learning, because everyone learns differently. For example, if you're into music try listening to Spanish songs, etc. You'll also learn vocab quicker if it's vocab about a subject you're interested in . I know how you feel, I learnt French for six years and can now just about say hello and thankyou.... Que tenga suerte!

updated SEP 21, 2008
posted by NuevaZeland
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haha okay i've been learning at school for about 3 years now and im only just starting to get the hang of speaking. u should pick it up faster in your enviroment but dont feel down when people took about 15-20 years to get to the level they are at and you cant reach that level after one year. lessons are good for grammer, once you get grammer down its just learning words. a good tip i picked up the other day is to watch a movie in spanish and watch it again, several times. the more you watch it the more you will pick up untill you understand most of it. Good luck!

updated SEP 21, 2008
posted by Regan
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Thank you EVERYONE of you for your understanding words. So I'm not the only one struggling (at times).
I realize I'm the one who has to speed up my ears/brain, but at times I wish those attempting to talk to me would slow down just a little becauseitiskindofdemandsmostofyourattention just to separate the words at 200mph....
Putting together a sentence just takes too long, by the time I've simplified what I want to say (as I have less than 50% of the words I want to use) and checked my tenses, figured out roughly what order the words ought to go, conversation has simply moved on.
I've never found learning languages easy, but never before have I put this much time and effort in in return for so little progress.
Another day (ie tomorrow) another lesson I guess.
Thanx for listening to my rant!

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by Mz-Badger
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Jmarie said:

...a mi marido no le gusta, porque él no entiende nada. Lo siento!

Jmarie, My husband can relate ! smile

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by Valerie
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In my school there are teachers who expect the new foreign students to speak English in a few months (or weeks). The best explanation I've heard about how insane that is came from an Ecuadoran who speaks fluent English now. He said that for the first 6 months his ear was just getting used to the sound and speed of English. He was picking out words. In the next few months more words popped out and soon he at least knew what was being talked about.
Acquiring a language is different than learning a language. Acquiring a language, like with a baby, takes time. Think of the baby. They listen and observe and after a year or year and a half are able to respond at last. If you are practicing and trying and giving yourself lessons, truly you are ahead of the game. Every time you do something again, your neural synapse is strengthened. Every time you say "hooray!" at the same time, more energy runs to that synapse. For some reason, our brains groove on success.

So, I so agree with holding the party in your head when you have success. (Nice image Valerie!) When I am frustrated I go to a cafe and ask the waiter, "Puedo practicar mi espanol? Estoy ap...a... apriendo (they always help me here, I find it hard to pronounce this phrase)."
Entonces habla mas despacio y puedo preguntar en espanol. Es muy divertido. Pero a mi marido no le gusta, porque él no entiende nada. Lo siento!

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by Jmarie
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Mz Badger, I understand completely! I've been working at this for longer than anyone who's answered so far and it just seems like the more I learn, the more I find out that I still don't know. :( One suggestion I would have is to celebrate your small successes. Every time I hear something come out of my mouth correctly that I know confused me earlier, I give a little private party inside my head. I also like what Angela said about remembering expressions you hear in conversation. I know little phrases that every time I use them, a memory flashes in my mind of the first time I heard them used. Remember that slow progress is still progress, and don't give up!

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by Valerie
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Sally said:

Mz Badger,What you are going through is a normal part of the learning process. You know so many vocabulary words and you have practiced your verbs but still have trouble putting sentences together. My advice is to not overthink it. Go ahead and practice by speaking, knowing that you will make mistakes. Ask friends to correct you. It will come with time and practice but since we are not native speakers it won't ever be perfect. Take advantage of being in Mexico by staying away from cable TV in English. Immerse yourself in daily life with native speakers. Stay enthused! It will come!

I understand totally. I am a college student. I took Spanish I and II and made strong A's. Now I am in Spanish III and I am failing. I do not know where I went wrong but with all of the reflexives and D.O and I.O.'s I am totally lost.

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by stephanie9
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another note, In Mexico they would say tirando, instead of jalando, but Jalando is standard Spanish, I think, if not ,hopefully corrections will come by like a bucket full of cold water.

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by 00769608
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There is no acent on the word jalando. Instead of jalando la carreta, I should of said "siga empujando el tren"
I was unable to come up with something as good as keep on trucking,Spanish wise.

Gus said:

I congratulate on your efforts. Like we used to said in the '80s ", keep on trucking"enhorabuena por sus esfuerzos. Como deciamos en la década de los 80 , " siga jálando la carreta"

>

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by 00769608
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I congratulate on your efforts. Like we used to said in the '80s ", keep on trucking"

enhorabuena por sus esfuerzos. Como deciamos en la década de los 80 , " siga jálando la carreta"

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by 00769608
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Hola, Mz Badger, one suggestion: write down daily expression, I think you have more chances to communicate with spanish speakers, try to say, if you cannot say, buy some DVD, CD, even tapes to follow their pronounciation, then remember how is the expression, then talked with the people, if wrong, ask them help you correct it, and also you should take notes, at the same, try to think what you want to say, then write it down, try to think how to say in spanish, if you donot know, then ask help in this forum or your friends in mexico, I think one month later, I am sure that you can say a lot. as I did this, I only learned several months, although I cannot speak good, maybe my setence is not so conplete, but at least, people can understand me, I can communicate with people a lot at this moment, believe me, I think you can make it, right? como on!

updated SEP 20, 2008
posted by Angelina-Peng
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Oh and by the way,, I have been studying for about 3 years now. I have the opportunity to travel to Mexico from time to time. My next chance will be in November. But I am constantly looking for native speakers and those actively learning spanish to speak with me by voice.

updated SEP 19, 2008
posted by linda
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