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Best way to progress in Spanish from here on


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We've been studying Warren Hardy religiously right through book 3 and have mastered the verbs and pronouns pretty well and have a good grasp of sentence structure. Where we lack is vocabulary and just simply acquiring the mental skill to hear and understand the language. We've been using childrens' elementary readers to improve reading skills. Having some problems finding suitable ones.

We want to move to the next level, improving speaking, hearing and vocabulary. What have you all found to work best at that?

Thanks.

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Agree OLE Mexico is the best. All conversation is in Spanish so I think it is impossible not to improve. You get to describe what you did during the week, listen to their activities, etc. so you practice real life conversation and situations. They have several levels and you can take a free class to see what you think.

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A third recommendation for Olé México. Huge thumbs up. I did all the Warren Hardy books/classes, and it was a decent introduction/foundation, but like you I needed to "get to the next level". I knew a lot of stuff but couldn't use it worth a damn. The approach they take at Olé is entirely different: totally conversational, interactive, dynamic and, even, fun. As stated above, it's "impossible not to improve". The teachers there are resourceful, creative and enthusiastic. My ability to hear and understand Spanish, and to converse in (well, sort of) Spanish, has improved dramatically. At Olé you don't just study Spanish, you learn how to use it. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

P.S.: the LCS/Wilkes Center Library has quite a few children's books in Spanish.

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We've been studying Warren Hardy religiously right through book 3 and have mastered the verbs and pronouns pretty well and have a good grasp of sentence structure. Where we lack is vocabulary and just simply acquiring the mental skill to hear and understand the language. We've been using childrens' elementary readers to improve reading skills. Having some problems finding suitable ones.

We want to move to the next level, improving speaking, hearing and vocabulary. What have you all found to work best at that?

Thanks.

Well, I just checked the Warren Hardy site, and level 3 makes no mention of the present or past subjunctive. Just so you know, the subjunctive is a critical part of becoming proficient in the Spanish language. Much more so than English. If you are happy with the WH method, then I would continue with level 4 while you are doing your conversational classes. I see on his website that the subjunctive is covered in level 4. You will be shocked at how useful and common the subjunctive is in speaking and understanding Spanish.

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Went and tested with and worked with Ole' Mexico yesterday. Liked the young man (Alex) but found his English hard to comprehend and his Spanish too rapido and staccato and soft for my hearing impairment. Still looking around. Alternative recommendations with this in mind greatly appreciated!

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Interesting. Sorry it didn't go the way you'd hoped. The initial "placement test" exercise is a little weird and uncomfortable, especially since neither student nor teacher are accustomed to one another. At some point in the future, I would encourage you to give those guys another opportunity. I think they are terrific teachers, and because they're young and keep their classes tiny, they're able to adapt to the individual needs of their students. In the meantime, I think the link below is a potentially interesting tool (though I haven't really used it). Some of the material is free, and it might help you get your ear "up to speed", so to speak. Good luck.

http://www.newsinslowspanish.com/

From their website:

"News in Slow Spanish"

"In our course we emphasize all aspects of language learning from listening comprehension, rapid vocabulary expansion, exposure to Spanish grammar and common idiomatic expressions, to pronunciation practice and interactive grammar exercises. In our program we discuss the Weekly News, Spanish grammar, and Spanish expressions, and much more in simplified Spanish at a slow pace so that you can understand almost every word and sentence."

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Thanks, will give it a try.

Travis, remember you are a great deal younger than us and I am hearing impaired. I need a teacher whose English I can understand clearly, let alone Spanish. I didn't have a problem with the test itself, the problem is that the teacher's English was heavily accented, his voice was too soft and he spoke the individual words too rapidly for me to understand.

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I have a friend who is seventy years old, stone deaf, wears two hearing aids, and has almost zero natural ear for Spanish having grown up in suburban New Jersey. Yet he's thriving at Olé. Good luck.

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Good for him. I didn't post here looking for a suitable Spanish teacher for me so that we could have an argument. I can't understand Alex well enough for him to teach me, OK? I explained why your recommendation didn't work for me. Frankly, the implication of your post is somewhat insulting. I also wear two hearing aids, are far too close to 70 and in addition have cognitive damage which makes it difficult for my brain to interpret spoken language correctly.

On TOB where I also posted this request for help, someone else noted the same problem with Ole'.

You have a thread on this page where you are advocating for Ole'. That is not the purpose of this thread. I am asking other folks who are learning Spanish and have had good results to share with me suggestions of teachers we should talk with. We met with Ole' twice and while we found them to be quite amiable they didn't fit my needs. If you want to continue to advocate for them, please use your thread, not mine.

Thank you.

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Here's another thought. Have you ever tried working with Joel Gomez? He might be a good fit for you. He's definitely not soft spoken, has excellent English, and is an interesting and nice guy. He also used to teach the Warren Hardy materials for LCS pre-LuLu, so it'd be easy for you to hit the ground running with him. The card I have for him is a bit old, so not sure about the cell phone number, but if it's no good he'd get back to you by e-mail, I'm sure.

Joel

(044) 33 1006 0873

fajogoro@hotmail.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've learned a lot by taking the time to speak in Spanish to people working in the community whenever possible. A few examples. I've been taking tennis lessons from Carlos who speaks no English. After getting through a few key words I understand what he's asking of me. We also offered him the use of our casita during the week. He lives in Guadalajara. Carlos would come in about 8pm after a long day at work and as we always had extra food, he'd eat dinner and we'd talk about our respective days. Ninety minutes a night for several months really helped our conversational skills. Many words we didn't know so the dictionary was always close.

Our gardener and maid speak no English so all conversations are in Spanish. The gardener wanted to borrow some money to buy an old pick up truck that he wanted to use for a weekend events business. We talked a lot about his ability to afford not only the payments but also insurance, gas and maintenance. Again the dictionary came in handy for those words we use infrequently.

Yesterday I went in to the Modelarama across from Super Lake. While there a lady came in with several empty beer bottles and asked for her deposit back in English. The girl behind the counter had no clue what she was saying so the she repeated the request in English a bit louder. You know how this works in Mexico. If you don't have the ticket where you paid the original deposit you can't get a refund. Exchanges, yes. Refunds no. After relaying that information in English back to the lady, she went on an ugly rant about the lack of parking in front of the store and a few other unmentionable things. The girl behind the counter was totally confused about what had just happened.

To practice Spanish I spent the next 10 or 15 minutes talking about what happened and then explained how the procedure for returnable bottles was different between Mexico and countries NOB. I'm sure I missed a few words but I think I got my point across and I think I understood a high percentage of what she was telling me.

I think these opportunities give you the confidence to approach any situation in Mexico without fear and I believe that the Mexicans are very patient with those who attempt to speak their language.

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  • 2 months later...
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My hat is off to John Shrall too. I think most people avoid trying to communicate in Spanish because of the embarassment of being misunderstood or not understood at all. But think about it. In the US or Canada don't you feel appreciative of the effort a non-native speaker makes when trying to communicate in English? And don't you adjust to help communication? I try to speak Spanish everywhere and with everyone and it is a rare instance indeed that any native Spanish speaker will not show some sort of support of my effort. I am a big fan of the UCLA professor Stephen Krashen's approach to learning the language. Google his name - watch his video demonstrating his approach using German. There is a lot of warmth in Mexico communities and it is much better appreciated on the inside rather than looking at it through the window. Orale!

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TrueBrit - I also am a big fan of Stephen Krashen and his theory of language acquisition. He believes in multiple repetitions of "comprehensible input" (CI) in a meaningful context with compelling content. I love the video when he contrasts no CI with CI in his mini German lesson. He had a lot more hair back then.

I taught Spanish at the high school level for 18 years. The last ten years, I switched away from a grammar-driven syllabus to teaching primarily using a methodology known as TPRS - Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling, which is based on CI with high frequency vocabulary and which Krashen endorses. He attended the national TPRS conference multiple times and I had the pleasure of not only hearing him speak, but also being able to talk with him in informal settings during the conferences. Now that he's "retired," Krashen is quite a voice regarding public education reform in the U.S. and is very much against excessive standardized "high stakes" testing. If you have Facebook or Twitter accounts, he's a very interesting chap to follow.

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  • 2 months later...

Michael Thomas method is very casual and easy to pick up. (http://www.michelthomas.com/). They are reasonably inexpensive (~ $50US +/-) depending on which program. It is an audiobook with supporting printed materials. The training is doen is a conversational way, mixing english and the spanish words being taught. It allows you to slowly add more and more spanish words to your general conversation as you become more fluent. Certainly a worthy option.

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Anyone truly interested in learning Spanish, or any of several other languages, should look at DUOLINGO.COM

which is a fantastic new online program. It is significantly faster and more effective than Rosetta Stone, according to a recent study, and I found it much more fun than local lessons or other online programs. It is very interactive and amazingly well designed. If you can devote an hour each day, you will progress rapidly. Yes, it is free !!!!

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Duolingo is great. It's a really wonderful tool, especially for beginners and intermediate learners. And like you said, it's free, which is spectacular. Duolingo.com is a superb way to build vocabulary, practice grammar and sentence structure, and even help train your ear to hear better, etc. (I've done all the lessons and am going through them again because it's just that good. Repetition helps!)

But it only goes so far, or at least for now it only goes so far since it's pretty new. Like you said. No matter what, it's a great resource.

Another great site is www.Spanishpod.com. (That one isn't free, but you can try it out for free, then choose to sign up or not.)

All that said, go back to John Shrall's post. He nails it. Absolutely nothing can replace speaking Spanish in real-world conversations with a native speaker. Nothing is more important. Nothing. You learn how to speak, and perhaps more importantly, you learn how to hear. And if you're serious about learning how to communicate in Spanish, you have to go beyond brief, casual exchanges with shopkeepers, restaurant employees, etc., etc. You need to find or create ways to have longer, deeper conversations.

Like he did with his tennis friend.

And therein lies the real answer. Mexican friends. They help. ;)

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Another great site is www.Spanishpod.com. (That one isn't free, but you can try it out for free, then choose to sign up or not.)

Just an FYI about Spanishpod. The site is no longer producing new material, but there is still a huge amount of content that is available on the site. IMO, the best way to take advantage of all the great material would be to sign up for one month at $9.00 US and download all the available resources. It truly is a great site, and for 9 bucks it is an outstanding bargain.

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