Learning Spanish

One of the first things you should do, when you decide to move to a Latin American country, is to learn to speak Spanish. You may say, you have no need, because you plan on associating primarily with Gringos and your need for Spanish will be minimal. Bad idea!

There are many ways to advance you Spanish skills. I have written about many of them in past posts. There are many classes to be had. Choose wisely, there are good ones and there are bad ones.

The Internet will help a lot. Try this website. It is a free site, but it allows you to listen to the sentences and see the same sentence in written form

There is another thing that I highly recommend. That is to find a good Spanish music station on the Internet. I recommend this station. You may need to put this URL into one of the music streaming software products. I use Amarok in Linux. You should be able to do the same with Winamp on Windows. It plays a lot of older Spanish music and they all sing well and pronounce all of the words well. It is important that you start to distinguish Spanish words. I am amazed how much of the music I can understand now.

You will enjoy the music, trust me. The following video is one of my favorite Spanish Artists. It will show you how beautiful Spanish music is.

Of course it is good to watch programs in Spanish on television. Some of the best, to learn Spanish from, are the novelas (soap operas). I guess soap operas are the same all over the world, so you will have a good idea what is going on. The novelas, I have heard, also tend to talk slower than other programs. The news is also a good thing to listen to.

The best way to learn is through immersion. Associate with the locals and you will find that your Spanish will expand fairly quickly. Besides learning the language, you will begin to learn the people and the culture. Not only that, but you will find yourself being accepted more.

13 thoughts on “Learning Spanish

  1. Hi Don Ray, another good thing about watching/listening to the novelas is that the actions add to the understanding of what is being spoken. My Nena learned English very quickly by watching soaps (and commercials) when she came to the USA so the method is valid regardless of the language.
    Yet another plus is the conversational tone of a novela, people interacting with people using the popular vocabulary. It really helps in developing the “ear” for the pace of how people actually speak.
    And it certainly doesn’t hurt that most of the actors are exceedingly easy on the eyes!! LOL
    jimandnena in Texas

  2. I just got in the mail yesterday the Visual Link Spanish course from the U.S. Institute of Languages. Their website is http://www.spanishprograms.com. You learn on your computer with the written word, pronunciation, and pictures. It has you speaking in sentences on your first lesson. There are various games you can play that help with the learning. You can get some free lessons via e-mail to get an idea of what it’s like. There are like 173 individual lessons plus you also get about 10 audio CD’s to listen to in your car etc. If you sign up for the free lessons, they will e-mail you with specials. You shouldn’t pay any more than $89 for the main program. I paid $135 which included some additional lessons. I was having so much fun learning last night I spent about 2 1/2 hours on it. It looks like it will be a great way to prepare me for moving to Volcan when our house sells in Arizona.

    Susan Lawson
    Chino Valley, AZ

  3. Hi Susan. I am happy that you found a method that you like. A combination of things always helps. Thanks for taking the time to comment and add your information.

  4. Don Ray:
    Great recommendations! Growing up in David I did not have a very good high school English. When I went to college in Panama city I needed to read Medical Journals in English (old Gorgas Hospital Library). It was painful! One of my roommates grew up in US and used to watch the Southern Command Network TV in Panama with programs from the 3 main TV chains in US. I watched and listened (Johny Carson, Today Show, ABC news, football, etc) and pick up a lot. Then CNN and other cable channels. I learned a lot. But as you said in previous postings, you have to practice your speech. When I came to US I could read a paper and watch TV but I had hard time understanding the locals. Even took ESL to improve my skills. So I agree with you it is important to practice your speaking abilities with somebody who is fluent in the language. Continue enjoying your retirement and keeps us updated on life in Paradise…Jaime

  5. I think listening to the local news is also helpful. They tend to speak a bit slower so that, especially in the beginning, one can identify sounds with words. And it gives a sense of what is going on. Also the grammar as not knowing the subjunctive can loose the meaning of the sentence. Classes can also help with reflexive verbs…which are counter-intuitive to those of us who speak English but used a lot in Spanish speaking countries.

    Knowing the language helps understand the culture and dampens feelings of isolation and frustration. Plus its pretty cool to be able to drop in conversation “No problem, I speak Spanish.”

  6. Hey Don Ray,
    For what it is worth, I was lucky to have a spanish teacher who was a stickler on pronunciation. She had me doing the a,b,c’s at the start of every class. I learned quickly that if you don’t say the word correctly, you get the “deer in the head lights” look.
    She also taught me my numbers first because “es su dinero”.
    Bob

  7. Great advice, Don. I’m anxious to check out the links.

    I was very fortunate to spend three weeks in La Antigua living with a family and studying Spanish. My grammar is deplorable. But I somehow get my point across to native speakers. I find that people in Guatamala speak Spanish slowly and annunciate carefully unlike others in Latin America. I highly recommend a total immersion experience for those who are serious about learning the language.

    BTW, I’m really looking forward to practicing my not to good Spanish come mid January when Tom and I head out your way.

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