I have hit a wall with Spanish

I have spent a few years trying to become fluent in Spanish. I started with Rosetta Stone to build a vocab, and then I started watching Spanish television and reading Spanish comic books.

There are a few obstacles. First, no matter how many words I learn, there are more words to learn. Second, there are countless expressions and sayings which I cannot understand. The verb “Poner” for instance, has about 500 uses :slight_smile:

I could really use help translating the difficult phrases in the books I am reading, but the “Ask the Spanish Tutor” forum is fairly inactive.

Can some Spanish speaking kind and generous people help me along a little, por favor? :slight_smile:

A sus ordenes, Senor!

If this post seems too dogmatic, it’s only because it has to be brief for the moment, because it’s late here. And we don’t need to reinvent the wheel since Steve has a million videos that all go to these points.

First, Rosetta Stone is garbage. Second, you’re not ready for the TV shows. They talk too fast, there’s too much implied meaning, and you probably don’t have enough words to make out what they are saying even if you were reading the script. Comic books might be helpful if they are simple stories, you look up the words, and the same words repeat.

If you’ve never taken a class, read a book about “how to learn Spanish,” get one. Teach Yourself, Assimil, Dover Essentials. Read a while and try to get a sense of what’s happening so the language isn’t so mysterious. Work through the content in the book, listening and reading if it has audio.

Next, or if you’ve already done that, start reading the library material at LingQ. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Find your own and import it. Do all your reading in LingQ. if you find a word you don’t know, linq it and make it yellow. If you find a phrase you like and want to remember or which you don’t know, lingq that and make the whole thing yellow.

Do your own 90 Day Challenge. Three months, at least 1-1.5 hours, everyday.

500 hours a year for two years = 1,000. Get there and you’ll get what you want. But you’ll see A LOT of progress before then while enjoying the language and being happy.


Is Rosetta Stone THAT bad, though? I haven’t used it and sure, it is greatly overpriced, but I feel like he won’t need any other grammar books. I am learning French for one and a half month now, and honestly I didn’t really bother with grammar, yet. Lingq is perfectly sufficient for my needs. I have still a long way to go, obviously, but I feel like I am improving.

So I would just suggest to try Lingq out. There should be a lot of Spanish content in library, and as LILingquist said just import your own content if you so desire.

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I agree with @LILingquist. Mostly I’d go the Lingq route if I were in your case. Read/listen to some content in Spanish everyday. Just be patient. You don’t need to learn words by heart, just expose yourself to the language.
I read the Spanish forum here rather often and I’ll try to help you with any expressions you may have problem with. Besides, feel free to write on my wall if you find it useful
Most important: that feeling that “no matter how many words I learn, there are more” is something we all feel as we learn the language. We just feel overwhelmed. Do go on and you’ll feel confident in the language sooner than you think.
I wish you success in your learning experience

“Most important: that feeling that “no matter how many words I learn, there are more” is something we all feel as we learn the language. We just feel overwhelmed. Do go on and you’ll feel confident in the language sooner than you think.”

^^ This was one of the first things I took away from Steve K’s earliest videos. In the first place, I was confident would get better and I would be able to success. It gave me the inspiration to keep going, to stick with it. Also, and just as important, the idea that we are “never really done” and that we “always want to be better than we are” will give me the courage to NOT keep going, to move on to another language if I want. I can just focus on maintaining, rather than always trying to persue something elusive to the point of never getting to other languages which interest me.

“First, no matter how many words I learn, there are more words to learn”

That is me with English period


I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You write English well, you can express yourself excellently on a variety of topics at this forum.

Sure, there are always going to be new words, but your English is already at a good level of active use, in my opinion.

You are very kind, @Prinz_DUP, and thank you indeed!

As you mentioned, there are always new words and even words I’ve seen for years, but for some reason failed to check in a dictionary. Just yesterday I decided to know the meaning of DC in Washington DC and I found an elaborated answer here:

I recently noticed that some people use the word “period” in a peculiar way- for me and my curiosity ended with this:

period noun [ C ] (MARK)​

mainly US (UK usually full stop) the symbol . used in writing at the end of a sentence or at the end of the short form of a word (PERIOD | English meaning - Cambridge Dictionary)

Once again, thank you for encouraging me and keep up writing here - we learn from your brilliant English.

Check out this guide!

Rosetta Stone was good for building some basic vocabulary and learning most of the grammar rules, but it was only the start. It has its limitations.

No offense, but the Lingq technique seems to have its limitations as well. From this example, you will see what I mean:

I was reading my comic book, and came across the phrase “Como Ves, Ella no te echaba mucho de menos.”

I already knew what echar and echarse meant, and also what menos meant, but was completely unable to translate this sentence.

Lingq would not have been any help in this regard, it only would give me the basic meanings.

The only way I found out what the sentence meant was to ask a Spanish speaking person. Now I know that “echar de menos” means “to miss somebody”.

So really, I’m not sure there is any other way to absorb the expressions and usages of words other then actually having help from others who speak the language.

Which is why I am so desperate for help, and came here.

I appreciate anyone who can translate for me or help me, thank you.

I’m not sure what happened with your expression. that definition comes up in google translate, which lingq has built into it. that’s where I originally learned it.

I use a dictionary, I don’t usually find google has all the nuances of language, but maybe I should use google more often. I will post some more difficult sentences into the Spanish Tutor forum and see if I can make some progress, thanks.

There may be something else at work here, but I only have your prior posts to go to really gauge where you are. That being said, if by dictionary, you mean a book, this is a huge part of the problem or “wall” you have hit.

The two most powerful language learning tools are Google Translate and LingQ.

Unless you’re just starting out, or very advanced, ALL of your reading should be done at LingQ. You need this because:

  1. LingQ gives you access to fast, online dictionariesThe user suggested hints are usually good enough. If not, go to Babylon or Word Reference (in LingQ) for individual phrases. For sentences and phrases, users hints and google. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in one of these fast resources, you’re reading slang or a typo.

  2. LingQ saves these as highlighted yellow words or phrases that remind you it’s one you are learning and which you can refresh yourself with a single tap.

  3. These lingqs are saved in context so you can read, tap, and keep reading.

  4. You can track the progress of your knowledge of these words/phrases, update their status, etc.

  5. You can track your known words to prove to yourself that you ARE in fact making progress and give you a sense as to where you are.

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It sounds like Lingq will save you time looking up in the dictionary, and dictionaries can be time-consuming. It will also let you track your progress. I am willing to try this website more in the future.

As for google translate, let me throw a few Spanish phrases out there from my comic book that have completely stumped me, and see if google translate or LingQ would have helped in this regard:

  1. El caso se esta poniendo muy peligroso.

  2. A no ser que lo hiciera por capricho de Leon, or para ocultarse de alguien.

  3. No tenia nada de supernatural. Se trataba de una persona normal y corriente: con sus problemas, sus emociones.

  4. Se trataba de hacer un trabajo discreto y eficaz.

  5. De ser asi.

  6. Y como nadie es perfecto y no existe el amor a la carta, las cicunstancias vencieron y acabaron por separanos.

Not sure if google translate gave me correct translations of any of these phrases, but I somehow doubt it.

The only way to be sure is to ask someone who speaks the language, yes?

Yes, ask on the forum when in doubt. My own approach is to see if the suggested translation makes sense in the context of the text. Otherwise, I’d carry out some further research: look up possible idioms and eventually ask on the forum if I still feel lost.
As for your examples,
I pasted your sentences into google translate:
Sentences 1-5 are perfectly translated, the translation system even handled set expressions correctly
e.g. “de ser así” = “if so”
Translation of sentence number 6 was good enough to help you understand the meaning, even if the English rendering was not perfect
Google translate version:
And since no one is perfect and there is no love to the letter, the circumstances have overcome and ended up separating.

Possible better translation:
And since no one is perfect and there is no love to the T [as planned, exactly as you’d expect it to be), circumstances prevailed and ended up separating us

[Edit] link to the translations:
https://translate.google.com/#auto/en/1.%20El%20caso%20se%20esta%20poniendo%20muy%20peligroso. 2.%20A%20no%20ser%20que%20lo%20hiciera%20por%20capricho%20de%20Leon%2C%20or%20para%20ocultarse%20de%20alguien. 3.%20No%20tenia%20nada%20de%20supernatural.%20Se%20trataba%20de%20una%20persona%20normal%20y%20corriente%3A%20con%20sus%20problemas%2C%20sus%20emociones. 4.%20Se%20trataba%20de%20hacer%20un%20trabajo%20discreto%20y%20eficaz. 5.%20De%20ser%20asi. 6.%20Y%20como%20nadie%20es%20perfecto%20y%20no%20existe%20el%20amor%20a%20la%20carta%2C%20las%20cicunstancias%20vencieron%20y%20acabaron%20por%20separanos.

A few expressions from your examples that you may want to learn:
ponerse = get, become [this is very important; become translates as ponerse, hacerse or volverse, depending on context]
Se trata de… : it is about…
A no ser que: unless…
Just as in English “since” may sometimes mean “because”, so can “como” in Spanish have the same meaning

Also, if Google Translate doesn’t have a translation, which it mostly does, the Context Reverso dictionary often helps you figure out the meaning. You seem to think LingQ’s system means posting phrases on the forum or typing them into a dictionary. That is not the point. You need only as a Tutor on the forum if you can’t figure out the meaning on your own. The whole point is doing it in the Reader where all those repetitive actions are done for you and the words and meanings are tracked and remembered for future lessons as well.