Spanish - Beginner

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ymh43
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Spanish - Beginner

Postby ymh43 » Mon Jun 27, 2022 8:55 am

Sorry if this question was asked before. and sorry again for the long post.

I am currently learning spanish, not sure what level exactly but around beginner level for sure. my native language is Arabic but I am fluent in English so I am learning Spanish through English using the common sources I will mention below.
I started in a non consistent way around January 2022, I did Language transfer while driving to work. Then I started seriously studying in April. my method consisted of Assimil with ease, Anki flash cards and Practice makes perfect beginner's grammar book.
Almost every day I'd do a lesson from Assimil, a chapter from the grammar book, and 15 mins or so from Anki. I am now at lesson 60 from Assimil, and finished the grammar book. so now I started listening to Duolingo podcast and other podcast while commuting to work. My main concerns are: I barely can understand 10% of what is said in spanish. Also with Assimil now I am finding it very difficult to understand much especially after lesson 40 or so. I am remembering very well doing the active phase, part of it because I save some of the words to Anki and I have been using it consistently most of the time.
so my questions:
1-Is it ok to understand only that much during this phase? not sure what should I expect
2-What is the best thing I could do now to take my practice to the next level. I am kind of starting to get bored of Anki and a little frustrated from Assimil. But I will finish Assimil for sure. it's just taking longer :)

Thank you for the advice
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Cenwalh
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Re: Spanish - Beginner

Postby Cenwalh » Mon Jun 27, 2022 10:53 am

Hi ymh43, welcome to the forum.

With a language like Spanish that has so many resources, the world is really your oyster. However, I understand your frustration in that it's hard to make the transition to media consumption from beginners learning resources. The most important aspect in learning a language, I would say, is doing something every day, and you'll be sure to improve no matter what it is, so you're definitely on the right track. You should also not beat yourself up that you're struggling with Assimil or any other resource. We've all experienced those difficulties here, and there is no shame in going back to repeat stuff.

With that woolly stuff aside, my specific recommendations to you are:
  • If you are struggling understanding Assimil, put all the audios from the previous lessons together, and try to listen to them without the text to force your brain to use 'audio only mode' to understand what it already knows
  • 10% understanding of Duolingo podcasts is not very high and might not be helping. Duolingo has a thing called Stories that give a mix of written and verbal communication that will aid your understanding. These might be more your level. If you're not using Duolingo, then you could try doing a level test on it just to unlock stories
  • Another way to understand better what's being said is having visual clues as well as audio, which podcasts lack. I will never not recommend Dreaming Spanish as a resource for this. You could give their Superbeginner or Beginner videos a try
  • I wonder if you are finding differences in dialects difficult. From memory, Assimil uses Spanish as spoken in most of Spain, whereas Duolingo podcasts use Spanish as spoken in Latin America (specifically Mexico). The main difference - among many others you needn't worry about at this stage - is that the soft 'c' in Spanish from Spain* eg in the word 'hacer' is pronounced like the 'th' in English as in the word 'think', whereas in Latin America it is pronounced like an 's'
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ymh43
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Re: Spanish - Beginner

Postby ymh43 » Tue Jun 28, 2022 5:08 am

Thank you Cenwalh, I will give Dreaming Spanish a try, and will do what you recommended. probably I beating myself up more than I should.
Appreciate your advice.
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BeaP
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Re: Spanish - Beginner

Postby BeaP » Wed Jun 29, 2022 7:32 am

Yes, I think it's absolutely normal. I've only tried Assimil, I haven't used it for a long time, but as I remember, the audio is slow and clear, it's not like native speech. You need to become accustomed to native speech, it takes time and it's very hard to do with a few, slowed down audio tracks. In order to develop listening skills you need to listen to a lot of different native speakers, and so much material that wouldn't fit in a typical course. You can try videos made for learners (like Español con Juan or Destinos) on youtube but I'd turn to native materials ASAP. You don't have to watch a 2-hour film, you can watch a scene from a TV show, 4-5 times maybe, try to figure out what's going on, and then check the subtitles.

After these few resources you probably also lack vocabulary, and that's why you don't even understand the more advanced Assimil lessons. They might contain surprisingly many new words and grammar concepts after the previous lessons, Assimil is a condensed method. I'd suggest keeping a notebook (ANKI is OK, if you prefer that, but a lot of us have learned Spanish without it) and writing down the words and expressions you think you may use when you'll speak. Look for useful words in the videos, podcasts and TV shows as well. Try to use a monolingual on-line dictionary ('wordreference' or 'spanishdict') that gives Spanish definitions and sample sentences. If you spot the same word in another video or scene, pay attention to how it's used. Some people here suggest using a frequency dictionary to learn the most important words quickly. It takes years to develop good listening skills and a wide vocabulary, but if you force yourself out of the comfort zone, you'll see constant improvement.

No-one learns a language in 3 months, don't believe that you should have reached a 'high level' by now. There's nothing wrong with your progress. Patience.
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Le Baron
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Re: Spanish - Beginner

Postby Le Baron » Wed Jun 29, 2022 2:29 pm

ymh43 wrote:My main concerns are: I barely can understand 10% of what is said in Spanish. Also with Assimil now I am finding it very difficult to understand much especially after lesson 40 or so.

Though I agree with BeaP about getting more natural speech, I'm not sure about jumping right into native materials. With only 10% understanding it will likely just make you even more depressed when the percentage drops to 1%. So perhaps videos/audio that are halfway between. Not so deliberate as Assimil, but not running away like a speed train. In any case better to finish Assimil and work through as assiduously as you can before moving on. By that time things may have gelled more. And in the meantime build up through the stuff on YouTube like dialogues specifically A1 if necessary, then for A2, then B1.

There is one good thing about pure native materials (like the radio and podcasts) as compared to some learning materials claiming to teach 'native-like fast fast speech'. I was using a book called 'Streetwise Spanish' or 'Street Spanish', I can't even remember the name because I dumped it, and the people talking were vastly overdoing the speed and slurring over words. I've heard many native podcasts with interviews where they don't speak as ridiculous as this. So it's worth practising caution with these things. These teaching dialogues are trying hard to be 'natural' and greatly overdoing it. This might be why some of it seems impenetrable to a learner.
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ymh43
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Re: Spanish - Beginner

Postby ymh43 » Thu Jun 30, 2022 5:11 pm

Great advices guys, thank you so much!
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lavengro
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Re: Spanish - Beginner

Postby lavengro » Thu Jun 30, 2022 6:05 pm

Good luck with the Spanish studies, ymh43.

I have just started up with the Superbeginner videos in Dreaming Spanish. I am working through their site, rather than through Youtube: https://www.dreamingspanish.com/browse?level=superbeginner&sort=old
131 of 135 Superbeginner videos are available for free, and 379 of 389 of the Beginner videos. I am really enjoying them so far.
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fenchel
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Re: Spanish - Beginner

Postby fenchel » Wed Jul 06, 2022 8:21 pm

Good luck :)

Just take your time and try out what works for you. The most important thing in my experience is persistence.

For Spanish there is an enormous amount of material available, in the end you have to try them out and see what you like.
What helped me to get to a higher level in Spanish was the FSI Spanish Basic Course. Now, it is dated and boring and some people can't bear it while others love it. It takes some time and commitment, but it will get you to a good level. Unlimeted Spanish may be a (paid) resource that is more digestible when starting out
Also, there are a lot of graded readers available. You probably want to start with an A1 or A2 level and please ignore most of the lists online with reading material that say that Harry Potter is an A1 level, it definitely is not. Read the preview (e.g. on Amazon) and see if you can understand something, how authors interpret levels may be very different.
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