Help me get better at Spanish?

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Deinonysus
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby Deinonysus » Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:11 pm

Speakeasy wrote:Speakeasy acknowledges the vast experience in language-learning upon which Deinonysus can readily draw at will and further appreciates his often very thoughtful recommendations to others. Deinonysus is recognized as being one of the great contributors to the forum and, for what it is worth, he enjoys Speakeasy’s full support.

Deinonysus’ recommendations concerning the appropriate use of the Pimsleur materials are shared by many, if not most, experienced members of the forum. Speaker is fully aware that his own recommendations concerning Pimsleur make him somewhat of an outlier, a status of which he generally began to take notice around the age of four. Things haven't changed much since then.

On a more personal level, Speakeasy offers his apologies to Deinonysus for having feigned taking offense. He recognizes that none was meant and reaffirms that none was taken; Speaking was merely playing the fool. This should not be taken as a sign of Speaking's ageing, he has been this way all his life.

It's all good, Deinonysus figured Speakeasy was joking but just wanted to make sure.

rdearman wrote:Is there some sort of contest to speak in the 3rd person which I haven't been told about?

Yes but rdearman just lost.
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby El Forastero » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:36 pm

rlpowell wrote:Given how hard verbal Spanish is for me, should I be trying to consume TV I mostly can't understand? If so, should I be doing it with captions or just trying to understand the speech by itself?


My recommendations for you are:

FIRST: to start with the easiest accents first, and those are not the most common in TV shows or movies, even doubbed. I know, those are not the real spanish either, but you're a beginner, so is the kind of resource you need for a while. Cenwahl's reccomendation is fine, but it's peninsular accent (From Spain) and this is by far more complicated than the neutral mexican one (That used in dubben movies and TV shows) or the neutral Colombian one (That from TV News and some Radio). You need to feel, as soon as possible, the comfortability of understanding 90% of the content you listen, and that would be harder with accents like caribbean, argentinian, peninsular, chilean... After improving, you can face the harders ones again.

SECOND: Try to find resources (Podcast, videos, TV, movies...) you can understand 60-80%. According to my experience, that's the ideal. Less than 50% could be unfruitful to at least enjoy the content or probably you spent too much money repeating and consulting dictionaires. More than 80% is unchallenging for you and you could not improve with these easy resources (Besides, if you are a begginer, an audio you understand 100% is a sample of unreal language: too slow, too well vocalized, with some sounds that in real language are not pronounced...). If at the beginning the only resources that fit in these criteria are from a language course, start with them and work thouroughly. After a while, your language will improve enough to face the challenge to listent to real content.

It's essential: The audios need to be about a topic you are really interested in. A topic about even in your mother tongue you would listen to several times for fun (Indeed, you need to listen to your target language resources several times).
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby Cenwalh » Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:35 am

El Forastero wrote:
rlpowell wrote:Given how hard verbal Spanish is for me, should I be trying to consume TV I mostly can't understand? If so, should I be doing it with captions or just trying to understand the speech by itself?


My recommendations for you are:

FIRST: to start with the easiest accents first, and those are not the most common in TV shows or movies, even doubbed. I know, those are not the real spanish either, but you're a beginner, so is the kind of resource you need for a while. Cenwahl's reccomendation is fine, but it's peninsular accent (From Spain) and this is by far more complicated than the neutral mexican one (That used in dubben movies and TV shows) or the neutral Colombian one (That from TV News and some Radio). You need to feel, as soon as possible, the comfortability of understanding 90% of the content you listen, and that would be harder with accents like caribbean, argentinian, peninsular, chilean... After improving, you can face the harders ones again.

SECOND: Try to find resources (Podcast, videos, TV, movies...) you can understand 60-80%. According to my experience, that's the ideal. Less than 50% could be unfruitful to at least enjoy the content or probably you spent too much money repeating and consulting dictionaires. More than 80% is unchallenging for you and you could not improve with these easy resources (Besides, if you are a begginer, an audio you understand 100% is a sample of unreal language: too slow, too well vocalized, with some sounds that in real language are not pronounced...). If at the beginning the only resources that fit in these criteria are from a language course, start with them and work thouroughly. After a while, your language will improve enough to face the challenge to listent to real content.

It's essential: The audios need to be about a topic you are really interested in. A topic about even in your mother tongue you would listen to several times for fun (Indeed, you need to listen to your target language resources several times).


One accent isn't more complicated than another. You've just named accents that aren't similar to your own and said they're complicated, well of course they are for you because you're not from those places. I find American English harder than my native British English, but I wouldn't recommend one not to listen to it if there's a great resource that makes English super comprehensible for beginners trying to improve their listening skills.
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby golyplot » Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:05 pm

I think the best way to improve listening comprehension is to watch lots and lots of TV. If you're just starting out, you'll have to experiment to find out what you understand the best and also enjoy so you can keep going. In my experience, dubbed shows are usually easier to understand than authentic native content. But it's also important to find something you like watching so you are motivated to keep going. Another tip is to watch a TV series rather than a movie, because after the first couple episodes, you'll have gotten used to the voices, the story, and vocabulary used in the show etc, and it becomes a lot easier to follow.
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby El Forastero » Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:45 pm

Cenwalh wrote:One accent isn't more complicated than another. You've just named accents that aren't similar to your own and said they're complicated, well of course they are for you because you're not from those places. I find American English harder than my native British English, but I wouldn't recommend one not to listen to it if there's a great resource that makes English super comprehensible for beginners trying to improve their listening skills.


That is not exactlly true. This discussion can be merged into the one about what the hardesst language is, and yes, one of the reasons is what accent / languages are you more exposed to,, but there are some objectve reasons. Let me show the caribbean accent example and why I consider it harder than the "neutral", regarding only pronounciation:

Nasal vowels, elision of several consonant sounds (T, D, S, R, B...), gemmination of others ones, vocalization of others ones, S aspiration in some positions (indeed, the S has 4 pronounciation ways in this accent), 5 different R pronunciation (According to where exactly the given speaker is from), glotal stops... In the "Neutral", there are no elision at all, no aspiration, no glotal stop, no nasal vowels... There are more consonantes and vowels with the 1-1 correlation between grapheme and phoneme, so if you want to write from your listen-based knowledge, you don't need to learn extra spelling rules. You can't say that caribbean accent is intrinsically as easy as any other accent.
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby Kraut » Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:36 pm

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_o_Uk ... gJPr8qVSfg
You might have a look at these house buying, selling, renting etc programs from the US. They provide good context, useful vocabulary, subtitles and audio in European Spanish.
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby Lisa » Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:03 pm

Related to accents - I do think this matters. The th sound of european spanish takes only an extra few milliseconds to decode, but it's enough to be a problem. And I remember having a hard time with chilean spanish, they dropped the final sound of many words, and guessing isn't impossible but it's all about being able to register the word before it whizzes by and you're faced with the next word. Don't underestimate the need to know the vocabulary pretty well, either; reading give you much more time to deduce the meanings of semi-known words or figure out what that word was conjugated from. My Spanish anki deck had a lot of audio, and learning words along with the sounds has been helpful. I also say the words aloud when I study, they fit in my brain a little differently that way, sometimes my tongue can produce a word that don't recall exactly in written form.

I can recommend the following, which are CDs that I listen/ed to while driving. I get these out of my library, it's easier for me to use CDs in the car than download stuff. They are a little basic for me now but I'm not quite at audiobooks yet.

"Read and Think Spanish" was what I started with; a whole bunch of short pieces in spanish on cultural topics. It's not easy-beginner, but not more than advanced-beginner.

"Immersion Plus" spanish has a number of dialogs that are spoken three times: first, quickly, then slowly, quickly again. (only in spanish, the booklet may have the translation, but it's beginner level vocabulary).
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:18 pm

All of the above, and all of the below, if any. Work through the suggestions until you find something that works for you.
Listening without understanding is okay if you are JUST beginning, so your ears and brain get a bit used to the different sounds of a new language. After a few days, though, your brain will probably rebel. Or not.
Check out the Wiki, too, espectially "Using Music To Improve Your Listening" under "How To Practice and Improve Your Language." But use this only as a fun supplement.
By the way, FSI is free.
Good luck.
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby Cavesa » Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:07 pm

Welcome to the forum!

rlpowell wrote:1. Should I be using a commercial language learning program, or is it time to just dive into Spanish media? If a commercial program is appropriate, what would people suggest?
2. Given how hard verbal Spanish is for me, should I be trying to consume TV I mostly can't understand? If so, should I be doing it with captions or just trying to understand the speech by itself?


1.Yes. Contrary to popular belief and marketing, Duolingo really doesn't lead to comfortable use of native media or normal communication. It does have some value, sure, but I'd say the best way to treat it is to consider it a nice taste of learning the language and good superficial introduction to the basics, and also a good way to get ready for using monolingual beginner resources. Pimsleur is not bad at all, even though I personally don't like it much. Just grabbing a good course (book+audio usually) should help you get much better in a reasonable amount of time. There are actually many good coursebooks. I think Metodo is a good series, but there are many other options too. A very good supplement are workbooks like Gramatica de Uso.

2.No. I am a real believer in lots of tv being extremely beneficial to language learning. But not to a beginner. Get to approximately B1 and return, the learning curve will be bearable, the content will be more enjoyable, and it will help you improve a lot.
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Re: Help me get better at Spanish?

Postby golyplot » Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:18 pm

Cavesa wrote:2.No. I am a real believer in lots of tv being extremely beneficial to language learning. But not to a beginner. Get to approximately B1 and return, the learning curve will be bearable, the content will be more enjoyable, and it will help you improve a lot.


My preferred method is to use Duolingo + watching lots of TV, so either Duolingo gets you to B1, TV is still helpful at earlier stages, or I'm just doing things inefficiently.

IMO, it's #2, though it could be a bit of #3 as well.
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