Sunday, May 20, 2007

Where I Learn To Speak Spanish

I happened upon a really neat television show yesterday. It was Barry Farber talking about how easy it really is to learn a language on your own. Granted, you can’t absorb things straight up through your pillow at night if you leave the book you’re studying under your pillow (like I did in the 5th grade once). But, he did break it down into bite sized chunks to make me think that I might even be able to do something with the system.

  • Buy a grammar in the language. There isn’t any getting around it, but you will have to study a grammar.
  • Buy a good dictionary.
  • Buy a newspaper in the language you are studying.
  • Buy a phrase book.
  • Get some business card sized index cards
  • Buy plastic covers for the business cards (presumably you’re going to wear them out, so that would be the reason for this one).
  • Have pastel colored highlighters at hand.
  • Find a person who speaks the language you’re studying so you can occasionally ask them for help with things you can’t figure out. Never leave an encounter with this person without having first gotten a new phrase from them. If you can’t find somebody like this you can call the country’s embassy or consulate and ask whoever answers the phone for help. Barry said they’d be thrilled to help you.

Now, you go to town. Study the grammar for 5 lessons. Next, open the newspaper and with the top story, not the one on page 15 about a subject you would be more interested in, but the first story. Highlight every word you don’t know. Write each word on one of the cards. If you’ve got a dictionary already, look up each word. If you haven’t bought your dictionary yet, take the newspaper with you into the book store and look up each word. Buy the dictionary that has these words.

Barry said you’re not actually going to be able to find each word exactly as you’ve got it in your newspaper article. That’s because the dictionary will have the infinitive form of the word and what you’ve got in the article is the word broken down. Like, in Spanish you might find the word, ‘trabajo” in the article. That means, “I work” What the dictionary is going to have is “trabajar” which means, “to work”. So, you go for the word that looks most like the one you’ve underlined.

However, he said there are some words you’re never going to find in the dictionary but which show up all over the newspaper. Like in French the word “vais”. He said the infinitive form of that word is, “aller”. I think it means, “I go” and “to go”.

What he had to say, though, that was really encouraging was that armed with even a few words in another language you can launch yourself and have a half way decent conversation with somebody. At least, you can try. As opposed to brain surgery where knowing just a little bit will get you absolutely nowhere.

I remember with German that my “GastHaus Deutsch” wasn’t half bad. Of course, I always ordered a beer and the more I drank the easier it got to talk to folks.

Anyway, I went on Amazon yesterday and bought Barry Farber’s book, “How To Learn Any Language”. The whole thing ended up being $8.96 including shipping and handling. Not bad.

What’s going to be great for me is the guides will help me with it. I’m looking forward to that. By the way, the language I’m trying to learn is Spanish. I’ve made a blog for it: Learn Spanish With Me. It’s where I pick a word and create a sentence using that word. The whole thing gets translated into Spanish. But, it’s the stuff that interests me, the things that are in my life, the words I would use anyway to talk to somebody. Not the stuff in somebody else’s book.

1 comment:

gsvirdi said...

Hi Lady Skye Fyre,

I apprecitate this honest advice. I also agree that many new people do get confussed with "when, where & how" to start with. Learning any language will only be easy with the practise as u also would agree to it.

So what I did to help ppl was to put reviews, vocabulary, grammer and much much more on the website. Hope it will help all of us.

Learn to speak spanish