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Listening to Spanish

  1. Mar 24, 2010 #1
    I am trying to learn Spanish well enough so that I can speak it with Spanish speaking people just like I speak English. I was thinking about how I learned English. A better statement would be : How everyone learns there first language. I came to the conclusion that it was just by hearing the words over and over again that we are able to learn languages. When humans are babies they aren't capable of storing definitions and things of that nature but they are able to relate to certain sounds they have heard in the past with actions and visual objects. So, I'm wondering, if I just listen to Spanish everyday, even if I only understand a very small portion of what is being said, will my knowledge of it increase? Of course, I would also read a Spanish English dictionary and keep taking Spanish 1 but do you think listening to it in general will be helpful?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2010 #2


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  4. Apr 20, 2010 #3
    Any time you are subjected to the language it is beneficial for learning. I met a cambodian who learned english by watching british tv. He had a british accent too, lol. The best way to learn is to move to a spanish speaking country.
  5. May 12, 2010 #4
    Children practice listening and speaking and lots is trial and error. They imitate things they hear and build up a vocabulary of phrases, which they attempt to rearrange in different ways, substitute words, etc. They get corrected a lot when they make mistakes and, what I believes helps them the most, is when people correct them without humiliating or belittling them for making the mistake. When adults practice languages that they have less experience in, people often laugh at them, belittle them, treat them with little patience, exclude them for being "foreign," etc. Children can escape discrimination to some extent, although it happens to them too in varying degrees, I think.
  6. Jun 25, 2010 #5
    If you are listening to an instructional tape where they say the words in spanish AND english, then it might be beneficial. But if you're just listening to spanish speaking tapes, forget it. You can't learn that way. If you really want to learn spanish, try Rosetta Stone. It's expensive, but 100% guaranteed to work.

  7. Jun 25, 2010 #6
    Proprietary language-learning is, imo, one of the obstacles for organic language-learning. People need to be able to practice interactively, ask questions using the vocab and grammar they have so far, etc. It would be helpful to have relatively simple books printed in two or more language in one edition so you could flip back and forth between the same page in different languages to get a feel for how the same sentence is expressed in two languages.
  8. Jun 30, 2010 #7
    The way you learned your 'mother tongue' or L1 is completely different from how , as an adult , you will learn a second language.
    Of course the best method is full immersion, when you go and live in the language and can't take refuge in English. You could learn Spanish in 6 months that way!
    I suggest you follow your interests, as for example if you like music, listen to Spanish lyrics and work out the meanings with the help of a dictionary or bi-lingual text. Watch the TV news in Spanish after you update yourself in English, that way you know what is going on and that will help you get into the expressions used to express those ideas.
    Read a magazine in your area of interest, like science or technology or motorbikes, whatever!
    Finally, splash out on lessons with a qualified teacher, or if you don't want to spend actual money, advertise to swap English conversation with a native Spanish speaker.
    Good luck!
  9. Jun 30, 2010 #8


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    Listening is definitely helpful. I don't speak much Spanish, but I do speak French and German. I found that watching French TV helped a lot with my learning French. It's even better if you turn on the subtitles for the hearing impaired. Then you can see the words you don't know written out, which makes it easier to look them up in the dictionary. I think you could learn a new language like you learned your mother tongue by just listening, it's just that it goes a lot faster if you supplement it with reading and dictionary work as well. Another thing I found really valuable is to pick a news article to read every day, and make a list of all the words you don't know and look them up. Don't be discouraged if at first you have to look up over half of the words - just keep at it. This is also a good motivational tool, because you can see the progress as the number of words you need to look up declines.

    Buena suerte!
  10. Jun 30, 2010 #9
    I think the distinction between primary and secondary language-learning is a distinction that reduces and obscures the realities of what is entailed in language-learning. Yes, it is true that if you already have language-proficiency in one language, you can draw on your knowledge to make sense of the language you are learning (i.e. translate) and it is also true that habits of thought generated in one language can interfere in the learning of conflicting modes of expression. However, who is to say that children learning language for the first time do not experience similar conflicts with cognitive habits they have developed pre-lingually?

    The big difference between pre-lingual and post-lingual language learning, imo, is pre-lingual children are under constant pressure to relinquish the expectation of being catered to like a baby, which is a major encouragement to achieve language abilities that will help them solicit help that is refused when they just cry and throw tantrums. Adults cry and throw tantrums with regards to any kind of learning, not just language-learning - but they do so by insisting on relying on already-acquired proficiencies, such as a "mother-tongue" or English in which they are fluent.

    Also, since internet has evolved broadcasting and point-to-point communication to an advanced level with global range, "full-immersion" is no longer a plausible scenario, imo. Or rather, "full-immersion" can only happen by a concerted decision to avoid relying on any assistance-language, such as English. However, there's no reason why people couldn't discipline themselves to avoid switch between languages if they could tolerate the struggle involved with searching for ways to express things and understand others with limited comprehension and active proficiency.

    In short, language-learning like any kind of learning is a question of practice and patience, as well as other participants willing to practice with the same level of patience.
  11. Jun 30, 2010 #10
    The Berlitz method, which has been around for more than a century, is based on exactly this.

  12. Jun 30, 2010 #11


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    I re-learned conversational French through audio tapes from Pimsleur when I gained some accounts in northern Maine that had lots of French-speaking employees. I can't compare to the various other methods (including the instructional audio-tapes we used in HS in the '60s), but those cassettes were a great way to brush up and kill time on long drives. My territory at the time extended from northern Maine to eastern and central NY. Much more productive than talk-radio.
  13. Jul 1, 2010 #12


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    I have used the Pimsleur CDs to get a basic familiarity with several languages, and I highly recommend them They have researched the learning process and how you acquire and retain new memories, and applied this to constructing the lessons. So you get exposed to a new word repeatedly when you first learn it, then less often as you become more familiar with it. I find it really works.
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