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What is the quickest way to master Spanish? Answered

I live in Guatemala, have done rosetta stone, have copied down directly the 501 verb book, and have taken classes.  There are still just tons of words I don't know and struggle to understand people.


Watch movies, particularly children's movies, in Spanish with English subtitles.  Try to wean yourself off the subtitles.  Eventually you will want to watch non-children movies which will increase your vocabulary just like children learn how to speak.

Watch television programs in Spanish such as Spongebob Square Pants or Futurama.

Talk to people and practice.  Sometimes it's helpful to speak (or listen) to children, but their pronunciation isn't always the easiest.

Read books and comics in Spanish.

Read newspapers in Spanish - newspapers (at least in the US) are written at the 8th grade reader level.

Be patient with yourself.

I reply both with appreciation and thanks of your advice, and a request for more of the same caliber.

Your advice really is superb and I plan to apply it to my life, with some manipulation to my situation.  Firstly, I really like your idea of watching movies in Spanish with English subtitles.  I do this some, (I'm a long term volunteer and live with a host family) and any time we watch something together it is always in Spanish (of course) and I try and get English subtitles.  I'm being forced weened, because most of our DVD's are pirated and have no option for subtitles, secondly Cable tv doesn't provide subtitles in English.
I feel I can apply this to my life because I seem to have an addictive dependency for English language.  When presented with an option, I inherently prefer to watch in English, perhaps I need to acquire more discipline. I'm going to give it a go with the movies and tele, no more watch and English movie when no one is around.

As far as speaking to people in Spanish (especially children).  I'm already doing that quite a bit.  I only speak English with British and French tourists who visit my work, and I only get that guilty pleasure for about 5 hours every month.  But with understanding of the intent of this question service (and it's goal to allow people to receive answers to their questions which may be generally related), I greatly appreciate this.  I think it's great advice for someone not in my situation (and with the option to resort to English)

Lastly, the bit about reading newspapers and books in Spanish.  This is great advice.  I still 'leasure read' in English.  I still prefer to look up my old favorite US papers online than to pick up the Spanish newspapers.  I still have friends send me English books from the states, despite the fact that I have access to a Spanish library.  I'm definitely going to give this a shot, I think It will help me greatly, and can help anyone regardless of their level of ability.  Thanks for that

Finally, maybe the most insignificant part of your answer, but the most profound to me; be patient with myself.  I gravely need to apply that.  I get burned out, I get frustrated, I don't accept the place I'm at right now in learning.  I just want to speak perfectly, and speak perfectly right now.  I don't cut myself enough slack, and frankly, that sucks.  So thanks for that little tail on the end of a superb response.  Keep this up, you definitely helped me, and there are probably alot more instructable-ers that would say that.

El español es uno de los idiomas más difíciles y más hablados del mundo tras el chino. Puede tomar bastante tiempo el aprender esta lengua. Lo más difícil (bajo mi punto de vista aunque no me costó nada) son los verbos. Todas las formas tienen una palabra diferente para cada persona y número así como tiempos vervales y modos (indicativo, subjuntivo e imperativo) y las preposiciones (a, ante, bajo...) y las frases hechas

Spanish is a very difficult language and it's the second most speaked language in the world behind the chinese. It can take time to learn this language. The most difficult (undeer my point of view) is the verbs. All forms have a diferent word for all the persons (1º, 2º, 3º) and number (plural or singular). The modes (indicativo, subjuntivo and imperativo) and verbal times (past, present and future, simple or composed) and the prepositions (a, ante, bajo...) and all the called "frases hechas".

Do what he said.
I lived in the Mexico for many years and coming to the U.S was hard for me cause I did not know one word in English.  So I would watch T.V in English and stuff, plus school really helped me learn faster =]
Of course i still struggle and I have to check my spelling ALOT, but my spanish is of course great unlike my English =D

Hope you get it, spanish is not very hard =D

Move to Mexico and only speak English in a dire emergency.  My brother in law did that and very quickly learned to speak spanish.

Yeah I´m doing that right now.  I live in Guatemala, I am a long term volunteer. I only speak English with British and French tourists (sometimes I work in the tourism industry) and that's for only about 5 hours a month.  I definitely like your advice, especially the bit about ''only in dire emergencies''.  I still read and write in English for example; still facebook, for example, in English.  Hell, I'm doing it right now!  I think I'll take your advice to heart in my 'textual life'.  Thanks for the advice!

I doubt speaking English 5 hours/month and writing in English where appropriate is going to destroy someone's ability to speak Spanish.  There are very practical and psychological reasons to speak/write in English.

It's REALLY lonesome to live in a country where you rarely get to speak your native language.  When I lived in England, I adored the chance to speak to Americans and not have to alter my inflections, sentence structure, vernacular, etc., and that's an American in England, not a native-English speaker in a Spanish-speaking country.  I know this is true of a lot of people living in foreign countries.

It's also helpful to continue speaking your native language.  When my brother visits the US from Germany, there's a transition time for him to get accustomed to speaking only English again, and he learned German as an adult.  German words still slip into his English and vice versa.  He also forgets English words due to him rarely using some of them, and I have to define some words for him just because he's simply forgotten them.  You forget what you don't practice.

Plus it would be rude to speak in a language that is more difficult for your "audience" to understand when you can speak in a language that is much easier for them.  I'd be annoyed if I visited Guatemala and a native-English speaker spoke to me in Spanish when it would be much easier to speak in English.

If you think back to studying for a test back in school, you should remember how drained you felt and hitting points where you just couldn't stuff another piece of information inside your memory.  That happens for a reason.  Learning is very intensive, and it's the same with learning a new language as an adult.  Breaks have to be taken just as with learning anything.  The author simply cannot be expected to speak, listen, and think everything in Spanish at this point because he's still learning.  Neurology is a strange complex thing.

I completely understand your brother's sentiment! I already 'think in Spanish' meaning that as I'm conversing I think of words to say in Spanish and have to 'find' the English equivalent.  Also I'm forgetting English words right and left.  Especially higher-education diction (SAT words..), that I learned as an adult. And English spelling has taken a dive...I feel like I'm speaking English how I used to speak Spanish.

It makes phone conversations pretty difficult actually.  If I forget a word in person I can point and say "ummm that thing!" but thats a no go with just voices. 

But maybe it's progress, try living a few years in a different language, you pick it up I suppose.

And why I am I referred to as 'the author'?  I'm a person to ya know!

The best way to learn any language is to speak it with experts, preferably natives.

Spend time with Spanish speakers,  helping them in their everyday life.

Help out in a Spanish-language primary school.

Sounds like they should already be in an immersive environment.

Ask everyone to only speak Spanish around you  ?


read spanish literature?

Bust out the e-translator dictionary for quick lookups.

Very good advice, any suggestions?  Ofcourse there is the classic Don Quijote, but perhaps not a good repetative read.  Any ideas?

I don't know specifically...

I have the Klingon Hamlet - its english on the left side, and Klingon on the right side...page for page direct translation - like a coles notes, where you can read the plain english on one side and the shakespearean on the other...

Similar must exist for language learning. 

I am in an immersive environment, but perhaps not completely immersive.  I will definitely take this advice with me and ween myself off the little bit of English I receive.  Thanks for contributing.

Excellent advice, unfortunately, I'm already doing all those things! I live down here in Guatemala, I teach English in what we would equate to an Elementary School.  As well as work with a church and family.

So although your advice may not be applicable to my situation (I'm trying to master Spanish not learn Spanish); it is superb advice for people not in my place.  With understanding of the intent of this question service, and it's goal to educate those who have a question generally related; I greatly appreciate your advice.  It is superb.  Thanks.

It took me about 6 months to get to the point where I felt I could speak adequate tourist Spanish.  But I was spending most of my time talking to folks who spoke English.

Practice, practice, practice. Read -- find a Spanish translation of one of your favorite books, perhaps. Listen to the radio. Watch TV, especially educational TV aimed at kids which will focus on the simpler vocabulary.  Don't let yourself feel embarassed -- get out there and hold conversations, however simple they have to be when you start. Yes, you will make mistakes; folks will forgive you as long as you're making an honest attempt.