Re-starting to study Spanish

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White Belt
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Re-starting to study Spanish

Postby poru » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:58 pm

Hi all,

I studied Spanish about ten years ago and got to a high intermediate level. I did this relatively quickly because I lived in a city with a large Hispanic population growing up and because I took Spanish in high school (though I really wouldn't say I learned anything here, it did help me understand some of the basic grammar foundations). However, after studying it to this level and having a successful trip to South America, I more or less abandoned it in favor of harder languages. Namely, Japanese and Mandarin. It has been years since I seriously studied it but I have retained a lot of it.

My question is this: How can I go about restarting the language study after being away for so long? I think picking up a course book from zero would be way too easy but starting an intermediate one might have too much unknown vocabulary. Honestly, I think vocabulary may be my biggest issue at this point.

Any advice for restarting a language from the distant past would be much appreciated!
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Black Belt - 1st Dan
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Languages: Czech (N), English (C1), French (C2), Spanish (intermediate), German (somewhere on the path), Italian (beginner)
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Re: Re-starting to study Spanish

Postby Cavesa » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:23 pm

As an experienced break taker and restarter, I would recommend getting a beginner course, from a good quality series leading up to the higher levels, and working with that, just at a faster pace. I cannot recommend any from my own experience, as I've been using a Czech based series for the beginner-intermediate phase, but some of the monolingual classroom aimed books don't look bad. Apart from that, I'd recommend the awesome Gramatica de Uso del Espanol series. For vocabulary, there are vocab books too, or there are very good courses by eunoia on Memrise, called +Spanish or Spanish+, I'd have to check. Clozemaster can be very helpful too, and reading with readlang.
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Languages: English (N), French (read fluently), Spanish (read fluently). Studying Ancient Greek.
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Re: Re-starting to study Spanish

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:18 pm

Reineke and others posted an extensive list of Spanish resources here: ... =19&t=5377
The resource that helped me most to resurrect Spanish and French was the free app Learning with Texts (LWT). LWT is not for the dauntless, however. Search this forum for various remarks about it. A similar less daunting app is Readlang, but unfortunately the developer of Readlang is on hiatus. Something about needing to eat.

About a year and a few months each on Spanish and French brought my vocabulary back to a point where I could go on my own. (This does not mean I know every existing word in French and Spanish, but I can read Balzac and Vargas Llosa, say, without needing a dictionary.)

If you still need work on your listening, speaking and/or writing skills, see the list of resources above. Listening to audiobooks, TV documentaries, movies and TV episodes (in that order) are my preferred way to progress with listening skills. For TV and movies, one can make use of subs2str: there is a good general introduction to that process here

As for speaking, my Spanish is pretty much confined to ¡largete! and my French to zut alors !, and I don't write either of them at all.
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Languages: English (native); strong reading skills - Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Slovene, Farsi; fair reading skills - Polish, Czech, Dutch, Esperanto, Portuguese; beginner/rusty - Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
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Re: Re-starting to study Spanish

Postby mcthulhu » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:34 pm

If your most urgent need is to recover vocabulary that you once knew, maybe you could skip grammar courses and go straight to reading. I don't know whether you read for pleasure (some people do not), but if you have some favorite books that you more or less know by heart, you could look for the Spanish translations, which would probably not be difficult to find (especially if they're public domain classics). If you already have a general idea of what's going on, you'll be able to pick up words from context pretty easily, and it'll go faster and faster. This is my preferred way to brush up on a language.

Another idea, especially if you don't feel up to that level of reading yet, might be, if you're not too worried about your dignity (never a problem for me!). It currently shows 159 books in Spanish, and there are options to filter by age level, text length, etc. so you can adjust to whatever is just beyond your current level. Depending on how much Spanish you've retained from 10 years ago, they might be too easy for you; but if you don't know the vocabulary in children's books, it might be good to acquire it, since children's books are likely to use very common words.

Otherwise, you could try using bilingual readers or parallel texts; is probably the easiest source of parallel texts, and it has a lot in Spanish. If you prefer news and current events to fiction, Global Voices is another good source - you can find news stories or commentaries translated into multiple languages, and the articles are much shorter than book-length. There should be a lot in Spanish. There's another thread going on here with some specific guidance on using it.

Bilingual readers should make reading more painless, and thus encourage you do do more of it. Along the same lines, you might want to look for an ereader or ebook software that can let you look up words easily in a Spanish dictionary, with minimal effort.

I think I posted elsewhere here recently about a Web site that lists reading difficulty scores for a lot of books in English and Spanish; it seemed to have a pretty large database. If you can get some idea what level of reading difficulty applies to you, that might give some suggestions about level-appropriate books for you, too.
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