Re: If Anyone Else Is Learning Spanish

1

How does the Rosetta Stone software work? Does it have communicative activities? I'm assuming it must. What kind?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:38 PM
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JP is a gente?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:39 PM
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Spanish has something like about one-fourth the words English does. So you'll be fluent in just three and a half thousand years!


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:42 PM
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The software comes with a headphone/mic headset; each lesson feeds you a set of pictures with labels (a word, phrase, or sentence) in Spanish, and you're matching pictures with labels, or labels with pictures, or reading aloud, or saying something appropriate. The speech recognition is weak -- sometimes I'll say something just wrong, the wrong words, and it won't recognize the error.

I don't really know if I can recommend it. I feel like I'm learning some, but it also feels very unsystematic; like, I've picked up that there's a soy/estoy distinction, but not really what the deal is. I should probably pick up a textbook to supplement.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:45 PM
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That sounded negative. On the other hand, I've stuck with it, which is more than I've ever done with other tapes, and I do feel as though I'm really making some progress understanding. Eavesdropping on people on the subway, I can't understand conversations, but words and phrases I know are starting to pop out for me, which is what I remember happening when Samoan started to click. (Of course, immediately after that happened, I went home, so I never really got to speak Samoan either.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:50 PM
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BR and I are using the Pimsleur Spanish. We bought the cds and downloaded them to our ipod.

We took a basic spanish class at a local church. I give them credit for teaching people spanish.

Apparently though, I am going to actually have to work hard if I want to learn much.

We are heading back to Costa Rica in June!!! We are very excited.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:50 PM
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It sounds like it's taking a lot from the communicative approach, which is understandably hard to transfer to a situation without a fluent teacher to give you constant feedback in the target langauge. The first-year German textbook we use at my university is pretty hardcore communicative method, and it drives a lot of our constantly systemizing students absolutely crazy to be using things like forms of 'be' without knowing the grammar behind them.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:51 PM
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We need daily Unfogged Spanish lessons. A post a day in Spanish!!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:54 PM
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w-lfs-n can hold up the German end.

Unfortunately, that will make an entire day of unfogged posts either about Lichtenberg or 'where is the bathroom?'


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:58 PM
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Heh. Unless I want to spend a lot of time talking about how Yo tengo un tazon blanco, I haven't got much to say in Spanish yet. If I get so I think I can turn out a coherent paragraph, I may try it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:58 PM
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Though I'm sure LB's spanish is several notches beyond that.

(Confirmed on preview.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:59 PM
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Mi cabeza esta un motocicleta!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 2:59 PM
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Varios son de hecho los honores que el honor idea para conceder en ésos que honra, y es por estos honores que su lugar está dado a conocer a otros, porque este los medios tienen experiencia ideada experientially para divulgar la orden de la fila en una sociedad, no todos los honores que honran igualmente, sino algunos honores que tienen mayor digno de que otros, esos honores que tienen poco digno de que primero, pero un tercer grupo que tiene un valor del acemite, ni grande ni poco, pero mientras tanto, de modo que la concesión de un honor en una persona, aunque lo eleva absolutamente, con todo relativamente pueda dejarle el cortocircuito de las alturas él puede ser que haya obtenido, y éste es parte también del método de honor, para los que observen la marca la subida del fondo y el boquete en la tapa, mientras que la persona honrada, inusitada a la alabanza, piensa solamente en su elevación, y esta misma ignorancia lo baja otra vez en los ojos de otros, a menos que un honor del primer tipo lo honre, que que ninguna sea mayor, porque en este caso la suya que atiende solamente a su aumento en altitud lo hace crédito, para el colmo debe estar orgullosos, pero el avergonzado bajo, como honor enseña y está cabiendo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 3:01 PM
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I don't know the Spanish for "experientially" yet, sorry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 3:02 PM
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Shorter Tweety: There's this way cool website called babelfish that no one else has discovered yet!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 3:04 PM
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13: Claro!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 3:04 PM
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If a bunch of posts about Lichtenberg and one's head collide and make a hollow sound, it is not always the fault of a bunch of posts about Lichtenberg, Blume.

I totally identify with the third paragraph of this post.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 3:15 PM
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At your option, I can drop in a few bits of Benn, just to get a rise out of mmf!.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 3:17 PM
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I could guest blog some Müller, and then we'd be totally set.

Lichtenberg, Benn, Müller.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 3:18 PM
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Etlay Emay Owknay Ifay Ouya Eednay Igpay Atinlay Uestgay Ostpays.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 3:22 PM
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My parents have just left for a three-week trip to Peru, Equator, and, most importantly, the Galapagos. As far as I can tell, the only Spanish my mother has (my father is immovably monolingual) is "unhand me, sir! I am from a good family!"

Thank God they're going with some sort of organised package.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:07 PM
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NUESTRO PRIMERA INVITADA ES UNA MUJER MUY DINAMICA!


Posted by: OPINIONATED LATINA TALK SHOW HOST | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:11 PM
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I could copy in some cheery Trakl.

Things are going well for Trakl, and he's in the depths of despair -- and then he gets assigned to a WWI military hospital. Laffs ensue.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:21 PM
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I worked for a bit at a university that had truly wonderful success in teaching English as a 2nd language. By the end of the 2nd year the students were better than nearly any language major you'd find in almost any US university. By graduation nearly everyone was essentially fluent and could have lived and worked in a professional environment in the US or the UK without trouble at all. The main secret was having a highly structured system and lots and lots and lots of drilling. Now, I hate drilling myself so I understand the opposition to it, but I do think that it's the aversion to drilling (lots of it!) that keeps americans from learning languages very well. I'm afraid you're going to have to drill more. Sorry.


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:28 PM
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I can verify what Unknown Matt says. I always cheated and slacked on drill, and as a result I never became fluent in any of the several languages I know moderately well.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:29 PM
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Ugh, language learning. I've been downloading several sets of French podcasts and listening to them semi-regularly, but the trouble is that learning language takes so much more effort than learning anything else. In the same amount of time it takes to acquire even the most minimal levels of competence in a language, I could have a much less frustrating experience becoming fairly expert in just about anything other than a language. There's another problem with finding suitable podcasts or books or CDs or whatever to learn from: the really basic beginner's-level lessons seem far too slow and boring, but more advanced lessons are largely incomprehensible.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:47 PM
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Non-famous Matt, was this ESL program in the U.S. or somewhere else?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:48 PM
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26: Non-famous Matt is right. People's learning styles differ, but generally, if you're not in a total-immersion situation, you have to drill, drill, drill.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:51 PM
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drill, drill, drill

повторение - мать учения


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 4:59 PM
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29: Exactly!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:03 PM
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Povtorine is derived from bulls playing Quake.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:09 PM
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Part of the trouble with language learning is getting into the mood of being an ignorant two year old who doesn't know the simplest little things. I never could do it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:18 PM
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Blum- this was in a university in Russia teaching English majors. I didn't do very much serious teaching of English myself since I don't really know how to do that. I just helped out the very skilled English teachers in various ways.


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:21 PM
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getting into the mood of being an ignorant two year old who doesn't know the simplest little things. I never could do it.

This, and LB's third paragraph, describe my experience perfectly. I always start (studied Spanish, German, and Greek) all gung ho and do really well with picking up the grammar and the initial vocabulary, but then, as LB says, it becomes a grind, and as Emerson says, the expectations change and knowing basic grammar doesn't help you not be the dumbest person around all the time. I never did pick up Spanish or Greek. There was a time that I could have a basic conversation with strangers in German, but that's all gone now.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:25 PM
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I have recently started thinking that I should maybe learn ancient Greek, because then I'd be sure to get the chyx.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:36 PM
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Or maybe there was another reason.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:36 PM
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12: Mon dieu! Il y a une hache dans ma tete!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:38 PM
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34: exactly my experience with the various languages I've begun to learn. My solution? Endeavor to be the dumbest person around even in my native tongue.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:38 PM
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Learning to read languages isn't hard for me, though, because it's like other kinds of academic work.

The most successful language student I have ever known was an LA drug dealer who went to the Middle East for 10+ years in the 60s and 70s, and came back fluent in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic. At one point he was teaching Persian to Arabs or Arabic to Persians. He was a confident, easy-going guy who could not be embarrassed. He ultimately converted to Islam.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 5:48 PM
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My Spanish-language vocabulary got a huge boost from immersion experiences---as in, absolutely no English whatsoever. Obviously LB can't disappear to Spanish camp for a month, but perhaps there's some local hour-long Spanish-language chatting club. Such things were common in college, at least.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 6:33 PM
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I could offer to feed people if they'd talk to me in Spanish -- given the neighborhood, we have plenty of neighbors and parents of the kids' friends who are first-language Spanish speakers. I don't really have the face to start doing that until I have a little more base first.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 6:44 PM
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Hi folks, thanks for the big link to SpanishPod. I've been reading Unfogged for at least a year now.

Of course I recommend SpanishPod. I used Pimsleur Mandarin, and that audio drill really helped me learn the five tones of Mandarin, so I recommend that. I'm not sure how I feel about Pimsleur Spanish, if that really helps with communication or pronunciation. The good thing about that program is that you can check it out at the library for free.

(SPod is free to listen to as well, only pay if you want the other materials; text, additional audio, vocab games, flash cards, etc. The podcast will always be free, but we're working on ways to make the subscription irresistible.)

As a strident Chomskyian linguist I have my doubts about Rosetta; to me it feels like operant conditioning. So if you don't mind a little behaviorism with your lesson, by all means feel free.

I want to add to the "drill drill drill" discussion: You get good at what you practice. So if you drill yourself on memorizing words, you'll get good at memorizing words. If you drill yourself on Rosetta Stone, that's what you'll get good at.

But if you drill yourself on communication, that's exactly what you'll get good at. And I believe that communication is what triggers the language acquisition instinct.

I better go blog now, since you were kind enough to link in...


Posted by: jp 吉平 | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 6:47 PM
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Not surprising at all, the scottish learning spanish. I'm dominican, but I spent a year in Glasgow, and I can't tell you how much into salsa (and people who can dance do it with any amount of grace) scottish people are. Obviously, spanish is the percfect compliment.

On another note, do you speak any other languages? I'm learning french now, and I find that the material in english (my second language) is a lot more helpful than the material in spanish. I wonder if there's any particular reason for that.


Posted by: Melvin | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 6:52 PM
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But if you drill yourself on communication, that's exactly what you'll get good at. And I believe that communication is what triggers the language acquisition instinct.

Is communication something you can "drill" yourself in? Isn't it more about having to speak within a context? And having situations with information gaps, so there is reason for meaningful exchange?

(The bar for 'meaningful' here is pretty low.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 6:57 PM
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Melvin: I understand that French and English share more words than Spanish and English. Just a guess. I've also read theories on language acquisition after certain age, suggesting more recently learned languages may be stored in a different part of the brain than languages learned very early on.

Sorry, no links (I'm on an iPod), and I fully expect a corrective note from teo.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 7:06 PM
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No correction here. Not that you're right, necessarily, but I don't know much about second language acquisition.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 7:07 PM
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Both my own observations and formal studies show that English-speaking students of German most often default to the feminine (die) when they don't know the gender of a noun. Fact.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 7:18 PM
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Blume, do the two meanings of the German word "modern" explain Hitler?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 7:42 PM
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Is communication something you can "drill" yourself in?

Gotta be more fun with other people.

Anybody want me to drill them?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 8:19 PM
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Can anyone recommend any French podcasts? Italian? My French is a bit rusty but was one fairly good; my Italian was never that advanced. What I'd like to find in French is people reading literature expressively with an unabridged written text.

(I want audio of children's stories in German with a book to follow too, but that would need to be at the most basic, baby level.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 9:29 PM
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I'm also trying to learn Spanish by an audio course.
One extra thing I'm doing to get from basic Spanish to real spoken Spanish is listening to songs. Between listening to the song, finding the lyrics on the internet, and finding the translations, I thinking its really helping my comprehension. Julieta Venegas and the group Amaral are my favorites so far. P.S. Great Blog


Posted by: P_Householder(lurker) | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 10:20 PM
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47: that being because it is similar to "the", no doubt.

what about Spanish-speakers?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 10:23 PM
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Bostoniangirl,

My company is going to be launching FrenchPod and ItalianPod really soon.


Posted by: jp 吉平 | Link to this comment | 04-12-08 11:05 PM
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51

Try some cuban and spanish trova, if you can. Silvio Rodriguez and Joaquin Sabina, if they were to fuse together, would result in a spanish-speaking Bob Dylan. Julieta Venegas won't let your vocab get past "hola, te amo."


Posted by: Melvin | Link to this comment | 04-13-08 7:44 AM
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54
Thanks. Both were good suggestions.


Posted by: P_Householder | Link to this comment | 04-16-08 7:19 PM
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