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ouyangjun

Studying Spanish in China - how quick?

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ouyangjun

Due to my job I'm going to be required to travel to Central and South America more frequently.  I'll still be based out of China, but considering I'll be spending upwards of 40+ days in a given year in Spanish speaking countries I decided to dive into the language.  

 

A few general comments.  I started studying Chinese when I first moved to China close to a decade ago.  At this point and for many years now I've been fluent in the language.  I can read, write, and speak to anyone about most anything (including work, etc.).  To learn Spanish, I'm using a similar approach that I used for Chinese.  I initially thought since Spanish is similar to my native English that I can learn it and be fluent in 3 months as a lot of the polyglots advertise.  Now I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's going to happen with me.  

 

My idea of fluent is where I am in Chinese, and I quickly realized that to get to that level of fluency in Spanish it is going to take longer than 3 months.  If drop the standard of what I consider fluent I can probably advertise as such, but since I know what it is like to be really fluent in a foreign language living in the country... I'm not going to lie to myself.  3 months will not happen for me with Spanish.  Learning Spanish is not my only goal and definitely not my main priority... I have many competing priorities.  I'm sure if I could drop everything, move to a Spanish speaking country (or even back to America) and only study Spanish I'd get there a lot quicker.  So for now it's the same approach I used for Chinese.  No shortcuts, just hard work and putting in the hours to understand the grammar and build a large vocabulary.  

 

I started studying in November, and am through my first textbook "Breaking the Spanish Barrier" book 1 of 3.  Some general comments:

  1. Spanish is very easy compared to Chinese.  For me being a native English speaker, there is a lot of overlap and I'm able to quickly pick up on the concepts and new vocabulary.
  2. Conjugation of verbs is not that difficult in a textbook/reading setting.  I believe when speaking it will be more of a challenge, mainly because I'm not getting the repetitions in with practicing spoken Spanish here in China.
  3. Having an alphabet that is very similar to English (as compared to Chinese characters) makes the learning curve significantly quicker.  
  4. After not even two months of studying I'm already reading Spanish graded reader books.  There is no way I could've done this in Chinese. 
  5. My biggest challenge is when speaking.  If I don't immediately recall the Spanish word, the part of my brain that holds foreign languages seems to default to Chinese, so I'm often throwing in Chinese words with my Spanish...  this will likely cause mass confusion when I speak in Latin America.  This is my biggest frustration.  I can't seem to separate the Chinese/Spanish when in a speaking mode if I'm not very familiar with the Spanish word.  I'm sure with time this works itself out, but as a beginner just an observation.

 

My approach is:  SRS flashcards, textbooks, duolingo, music, graded readers, and I have the intention of signing up for an iTalki account to start speaking with natives.

 

If anyone has any advice on learning Spanish let me know!

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3 hours ago, ouyangjun said:

My biggest challenge is when speaking.  If I don't immediately recall the Spanish word, the part of my brain that holds foreign languages seems to default to Chinese, so I'm often throwing in Chinese words with my Spanish...  this will likely cause mass confusion when I speak in Latin America.  This is my biggest frustration.  I can't seem to separate the Chinese/Spanish when in a speaking mode if I'm not very familiar with the Spanish word.  I'm sure with time this works itself out, but as a beginner just an observation.

 

Me too. My brain seems to have one compartment for English and a second for "other."

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Shelley

Just remember Brazil speaks Portuguese:shock:

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Flickserve
15 hours ago, ouyangjun said:

 If I don't immediately recall the Spanish word, the part of my brain that holds foreign languages seems to default to Chinese

 

This happened to me when somebody spoke to me in French. My mouth defaulted to Mandarin and I managed to stop myself .... Interestingly, neither Cantonese nor English came into my brain.. .. 

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