Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Best CD or other system to polish up rusty Spanish-speaking skills?

Best CD or other system to polish up rusty Spanish-speaking skills?

Reply

Apr 10th, 2006, 05:44 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 368
Best CD or other system to polish up rusty Spanish-speaking skills?

I realize this may not be the best spot on the fourms for this question, but here goes. I am previously fluent in Spanish (from yikes! 30 years ago!) and am planning a visit to Spain late this fall. Does anyone have experience with any of the language programs such as Rosetta Stone or other products? I can still read/translate material fairly well with the help of a dictionary (verb conjugation seems to be my biggest hurdle) but I find myself frequently forgetting how to translate words from English to Spanish. Can anyone offer suggestions? I've volunteered to knock the rust off my old Spanish but would like to know if anyone has experience with any of these programs. I'm also looking at conversational classes at our local college but am going to need all the help I can get. Thanks!
RandyK is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 10th, 2006, 07:07 AM
  #2
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 368
any help here?
RandyK is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 10th, 2006, 09:03 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 748
Randy, I had the same problem with my German, although it is probably rustier than your Spanish. It has suffered through over 40 years of neglect. Anyway, following tips I found on this forum, I bought a Pimsleur set of CDs (for German). There are no workbooks that come with the set, and it just focuses on pronunciation and speaking. The set I bought is just for basic conversation. I also have a German/English dictionary that I am using to shake my brain on vocabulary. I do find the "basic" CDs to be limiting, however, and kind of wish that I had purchased a more "in depth" set. That being said, I do like the Pimsleur and am thinking of getting a basic Swahili set, as I'm going to Tanzania later on this year.

I thought the repetition of the lessons (just listen and repeat) would be boring, but it is fine. I work on one lesson a day while riding my exercise bike, then repeat the lesson in my car.

Take a look at this website: http://www.simonsays.com/content/index.cfm?sid=128 Notice that it has audio clips you can listen to.

I've read good things about Rosetta Stone which is, to my understanding, much more comprehensive and more like formal lessons.This site offers the opportunity to sample Rosetta Stone: http://www2.rosettastone.com/en/indi...lash-demo-form

I also recently purchased a Dutch program (I'm going to Amsterdam next month). I didn't get Pimsleur, because the only Dutch program was on cassette and not CD. I'm not sure I'll like the program. I'm going to start it this week, so if you're interested, I'll check on what it is and let you know how I like it.

Good luck.
nevermind is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 10th, 2006, 09:41 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 186
I just finished the level III Pimsleur tapes in Spanish and can't say enough good things about them. But I am learning Spanish from scratch, so I don't know if Pimsleur will suit your needs. What I liked particularly is that you can use the tapes while driving without consulting printed material--so I was able to work on my Spanish pretty much daily for 6 months. They break down new words so that you really hear the pronunciation (occasionally I looked the words up afterwards--not a bad idea anyway, so that I have at least some idea of written Spanish!) Although I haven't put it to the test (we leave for Spain April 18th), I feel that I can actually speak the language--well, somewhat--rather than just read (as with my French, which I studied for 5 years but can barely speak at all). One knock on the Spanish tapes: they use speakers with an Argentinan/Uraguayan accent, who pronounce "ll" with a "j" sound. And I have my own question: where do I go from here? I'm not sure what level I'm on. Anyway, I loved the system, but I don't know if it would work as well for somebody previously fluent.
Carolyn
carolynk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 10th, 2006, 09:49 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,253
I think doing anything where you have to listen and interact is better than nothing, and will help. I was never fluent in Spanish, because I only studied it for 3-4 years, but hadn't used it much in 30 years so was totally rusty. I really improved a lot by taking Spanish classes several hours a week, plus using the Pimsleur on the side. I think you need both.

I am not a super fan of Pimsleur, actually, although I think the repetition and getting used to hearing the language are all helpful. Any good language program would probably be as good (like Rosetta, which I don't know). What I didn't like about Pimsleur was the endless repetition, often of sentences or vocabulary that were not that important to me, and the fact that you don't really learn any formal structure very well because it is entirely oral. I knew Spanish some, so got by, but for a total beginner learning that way, I don't see how they can understand the grammar, construction of the language, or even what they are saying at times.

So, I would never personally recommend Pimsleur for someone hoping to improve their vocabulary at an advanced level, or needing help with verb conjugation.
Christina is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 10th, 2006, 10:10 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,850
Where do you live? I am in Dallas and there are lots of places where you can go and find people who only speak Spanish. In fact, at the Mexican grocery down the street from my house, nothing is in English.

When I needed to brush up on my French, I found a hookah bar. I learned a lot of my french in Morocco, so I looked for Moroccans. It was definitely the way to go because I got there and was the only English speaker.

I think that finding people boosts your confidence in a language because you have to really think on your feet. CDs are helpful, but nothing can replace straightforward conversation.
laclaire is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 10th, 2006, 12:19 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 748
Christina, I think you have an excellent point about Pimsleur. It isn't designed to make one literate in a language. It only offers the spoken skills. I believe the point is to teach language in a similar fashion to how a child learns to speak, by teaching the spoken word without the technicalities of formal grammar. I like the way it focuses on pronunciation.

The system you choose really depends on what you are trying to gain from a self learning program and, as in all things, your personal style.
nevermind is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 10th, 2006, 01:52 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 23
I am going to Spain this May and wanted to brush up on my Spanish. I learned really well in high school, but of course lost it all since then. I really like the Pimsleur language CDs. Its very easy in the beginning, but gets progressively more challenging. I tried to learn French last year, and I tried all kinds of tapes and systems, even a night class, but never felt like I was learning it right. I feel like Pimsleur at least has a system that is very natural, and gradually builds on vocabulary and grammar, without focusing on a lot of rules and declensions. Also, if your interested in getting them cheaper, I bought them at CheapPimsleur.com. When I finished the Spanish 1 comprehensive, I sent it back, got $100 off the next set of discs. They also have other programs I think. That way it doesn't get too expensive.
anjali is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 10th, 2006, 03:02 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,253
Some people learn differently than others, also. I know a lot of people on here say they like Pimsleur, but I am a very visual and analytical learner of foreign languages, rather than rote repetition which is what I think Pimsleur is. Also, in Spanish, some consonants can sound alike, so you may not even know what a word is they are saying if you don't understand it already -- or whether you are saying one long word or even a reflexive pronoun in front of a verb. They don't tell you and you wouldn't ever recognize that word in writing if you only learned by Pimsleur.

If I understand conjugation and basic verb categories, I can then conjugate anything, and I learn better by understanding the grammar. Also, it isn't that advanced as it only goes to set 3, I think, which I'd say is maybe intermediate level. I just don't know how useful it would be to someone who said they were once fluent in a language. I don't think it would help your vocabulary as much as reading, as they repeat a lot of the same stuff, that is their goal (and what on earth is Pimsleur's obsessions with engineers).

I think someone should try a system before buying, if possible, because these are things that can vary greatly by person--learning methods. I never paid anything for Pimsleur, and wouldn't, because I got it free at my library. I think Rosetta is also very expensive.

If Randy is taking the classes at college, I think that's the most important thing, and then these other programs will just augment that. I would also suggest reading a lot, also, watching Spanish films, etc. It's so common in the US that it is easy to view SPanish language television, that may be all you'd need in addition to the classroom.
Christina is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:34 AM.