March 29, 2011 § 2 Comments
I can’t believe how much easier it’s gotten to learn a language than when I learned Spanish. I studied Spanish in high school & college as a requisite but didn’t really feel like I was learning to speak it. When I went to business school, you were expected to become fluent in a language as part of the program. I spent a summer in Spanish classes from 9-5 mon-fri completing language drills, conversation classes, doing presentations in Spanish and any other sort of activity you could imagine. It was like boot camp. I continued with additional Spanish classes in Fall & Spring, then studying in Mexico for a little over a month to understand business terminology. I ended up on internship in Spain for 6 months and by the end of all of it, I was fluent, even if I spoke with a bit of a Castillian lisp. I remember in Spain, my boss wouldn’t answer me sometimes because he told me I sounded Mexican, even though he could understand me perfectly well. It wasn’t easy learning Spanish from professors who were Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Chilean, Argentinian, Spanish and Cuban among others. All of them felt their Spanish was superior and therefore the correct one you should learn. You not only had to learn a language but you had to understand the differences between the various dialects as well.
When I was looking into resources for Italian, it really struck me how much better language resources have gotten from the days of endless textbook exercises & verb conjugation drills. I always wanted to try out RosettaStone to see if it was worth the hype but always found it a bit pricey. Now they not only have the box sets you can buy (which are still pretty expensive) but they also have a program called Totale, a 3-month online program for $179.
Totale gives you online access to all of their language resources as well as online support and a community of other people you can practice with who are also learning. They even offer online 50-minute classes which I’m going to take part in later today.
It’s a pretty cool way of learning a language because it’s visual and interactive. When I was learning Spanish it often felt forced & removed from how you typically speak a language. Lots of exercises filling in blanks and notecards of verb conjugations. So far this program is great in that it connects pronunciation with visuals, so it’s almost as though you’re a kid learning language naturally by mimicking vs just memorizing.
I also found a pretty great dictionary/verb conjugation app for my iPad I can use as a reference as I’m going along. Not to mention it’s way better than lugging around a dictionary and verb conjugation book.
The one thing RossettaStone doesn’t do is to explain the grammatical rules, so this is a helpful thing to use alongside it. It also has tons of other examples of how to use the vocabulary I’m learning.
It definitely helps to already know some Spanish since so far the languages share a lot of the same words & structure of masculine/feminine.
It’s fun being a student again.