Aprendiendo Español

En Julio, yo voy a México, D.F. para mi trabajo y para turísmo. Estoy muy feliz, porque me encanta Mexico y puedo regresar a la Casa Azul de Frida Kahlo, el Zocalo, el Palacio de Bellas Artes, y la Basilica de Nuestra Señora Guadalupe. Pero necesito practicar my Español y tengo un pocos possibilidades para esto.

All of which means:
In July, I am going to México, D.F. for work and for tourism. I’m very happy because I love Mexico and can return to Frida Kahlo’s Blue House, the Zocalo, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe. But I need to practice my Spanish and I have a few possibilities for this (or that).

At least that’s what I think it means, because I wrote the above without using any dictionary translation. So I’m sure there are a few spelling errors, some missed accents, and definitely some screwed up pronouns (since they are all feminine or masculine, as well as different for singular and many), but on the whole I didn’t do too bad.

I have a strong base for Español, because I’ve had multiple classes in high school and college and even spent a semester (10 weeks) in México learning the language. But upon returning home and not speaking it for a while, I feel I’ve lost a lot of what I learned and don’t know anything anymore. But I’m always surprised to find that when I put my mind to it, I do have limited conversational skills.

I’ve always wanted to be fluent, though, wanted to read Pablo Neruda’s poetry in the original language and have legitimate and soulful conversations with native speakers. This trip to México, even though I’ll only be there a week, is spurring me to work toward this goal. Here are a few things I can (and plan) to do to make this happen.

1. Leer libros y escribir blog mesajes en Español — Reading books and writing blog posts in Spanish are kind of two sides of the same coin. Upside: They both have the potential to improve my vocabulary (especially the reading) and both can help me work on the grammar.

Downside: Neither will help much with pronunciation or being able to understand when someone is speaking Spanish a million miles a minute. Also, I’ve tried both for very brief periods of time and then gave them up. The reading is especially hard, because even with children’s books I have to look up words so often that it makes the experience kind of stressful. Reading is supposed to be fun relaxing time for me, so I end up giving up too quickly. Writing is a bit easier, but I’m limited by my vocabulary and so end up repeating the same ideas or phrases over and over.

2. Ver peliculas y telenovelas en la lengua original — Great for getting used to hearing the language, building vocabulary and an understanding of how words are pronounced, and learning slang phrases. Also helps in learning to think in the language.

3. Ir a un café y hablar con una amigo en Español — Definitely the best option, especially if I get to talk to someone who is a native speaker or knows more than me. Nothing builds language skills like speaking the language with someone who actually knows it.

4. Usar unu lengua aprendiendo programa para la computadora — Rosetta Stone is the language learning program that immediately comes to mind, though I’ve seen complaints about it, such as this review that recommends Fluenz instead. Both are on the pricy side, but handle the learning process very differently.

Rosetta Stone is a total immersion program, which means they don’t incorporate any English into the learning process. They go straight to the Spanish words and pair them with images, so that learners are supposed to pick up on it intuitively. The program also has interactive games that allow you to connect with other learners online and live sessions with native Spanish speakers (the real boon).

Fluenz on the other hand provides instructions in English and can pair the Spanish words with their English equivalent. It also provides English instructions for understanding pronoun usage and grammar. The review I linked above notes, “Fluenz believes that while full immersion might work with children, adults don’t learn languages as instinctively. Fluenz believes that adults learn best when they can relate the grammar and syntax of a foreign language to the structure of the tongue they already know — in my case, English.”

I’m sure it really just depends on your learning style, though. For me, I already have a good groundwork of the Spanish language and I understand the grammar and pronoun rules in theory at least, so total immersion is more up my alley. I internally debated for a while whether to spend the money, but Rosetta Stone was having a sale and they do payment plans, so I went with that. It should be here in a few days.

5. Todos los ariba — Really a mixture of all of the above will probably get me the best results, and conversing (or attempting to converse) while on my trip to Mexico will also be a great help.

Have you learned to become fluent a second (or third!) language? How did it work for you?

Cross-posted to my livejournal. You are welcome to comment here or there.

Monday Update

The “getting things done” thing did not go over too well last week. I did do some writing each morning, just letting brief poetic phrases flow out onto the page as part of a morning ritual. It’s a good warm up for the day, and sometimes a real poem actually comes of it.

The coming week is going to be interesting, because I’m 6 days away from arriving in Vegas. Much of this week will be spent in finalizing all travel plans and making any last final purchases for the trip.

My list of Creative To-Dos that get done will be like a bonus round above and beyond all the Travel To-Dos. They’ll have to all get done by Friday, as well, because once I’m actually in Vegas, I’ll be in pure pleasure seeking mode. 🙂

Travel Things That Need Accomplishing in the Coming Week
– get primped: hair cut and colored and eyebrows shaped
– buy bra clip thing-y for use with my fancy schmancy new tops
– get a chiropractic adjustment or two so I’m not totally whacked while I’m there
– figure out where the hell my luggage has vanished
– more will come up, I’m sure, as the week goes on

Creative Things That Need Accomplishing in the Coming Week (bonus round)
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– edit and polish 2-3 of my current poem drafts
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 2 marathon training days (all I’ll have room for)
– post a youtube video *fingers crossed*
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something