I have been studying Spanish for 7 weeks. I study for a minimum of 4 hours per day, every day, but sometimes up to 10 hours depending on my schedule. This only includes time spent reading and listening since I write very little and don’t really speak yet.
I feel I have made great progress and my ability to read, while clunky, is functional. I still don’t understand all of the grammar (despite reviewing grammar rules many times) but the reading feels more natural then before since I am not translating so much in my head and can actually let my eyes flow across the page and enjoy what I am reading.
Getting to the reason of the post (not to ramble, but I wanted to give an idea of where I am in my experience given the question I am asking), I wanted to know when I should worry about producing speech.
I met a Spanish speaker online and we chatted for a bit via IMs initially. We eventually engaged in a voice chat on Skype and he spoke in English, which was quite good although I have to speak slowly for him to understand me. He kept encouraging me to speak in Spanish and he was talking to me in Spanish but I couldn’t say anything beyond the initial “hi, how are you” talk. And I could hardly understand his Argentinean accent which is different than the Mexican or Spanish accent that I hear a lot on TV.
I listen and read along a lot here on LingQ and watch a lot of TV and finally the words are making sense some of the time but other times, words that I am sure I must know fly by without me recognizing them. I can usually understand what is going on because of visual clues and being able to understand keywords in conversations, however my reading ability is far superior to my listening capability.
All of that said, is there anything I need to work on? Should I worry about producing speech at this point? I am sincerely passionate about Spanish and want to truly master it but this is my first time trying to acquire a language and I’m a complete novice. I don’t study a lot because I’m in a hurry to understand (although it would be nice), but rather because I genuinely enjoy myself. I like reading and listening but is there anything else I need to be doing at this point?
It is up to you when you want to start speaking, and how often. In my own case with Russian, Portuguese and even Korean,which I did a few years ago and then stopped, I prefer to concentrate on listening and reading for the first 3-6 months for a similar language like Portuguese, and for at least a year for Russian and Korean.
That is not to say that I do not speak at all, during my silent period, but just very rarely.
It is up to you. The longer you wait, the faster your speaking will come along when you start speaking, or at least that has been my experience.
My suggestion is you don’t have to rush it. I used to take spanish classes in highschool and unlike my classmates that only cared about passing and moving on, I had an interest in learning a language so I took it on my own time to learn it. Spanish can be challenging to pronounce words, and speak them quickly. But after awhile I decided Spanish wasn’t for me, and I moved to German, which is what I’ve been learning for like 2 months and I can say for me the speech came naturally. I didn’t really think about wanting to speak because I knew I’d be learning the language in a long-term and it doesn’t really matter if you can speak it in your first couples weeks, or months. My piece of advice is just don’t try to rush it or you’ll most likely get frustrated with the mistakes you’ll make because Spanish fluency isn’t something easily obtained, like any language it takes discipline and determination and mostly time.
I hope that helped some
It doesn’t matter how many words in the foreign language you know, your first experiments to speak another language would ALWAYS BE DIFFICULT, like the first steps of the child. You have just to overcome this difficult period, and after 10-20 first clumsy and vain endeavours of speaking you suddenly would feel that every new attemt is getting better and better. There is no harm in trying - good luck!
Speak Spanish: when you feel like it. Worry about speaking Spanish: never.
Really, it’ll come. My kids listened to English for 2 - 3 years before they started even trying to speak it, and they were rubbish for the first 2 years of conversations
You know I have never studied Spanish in my life , however I can manage it very well . The secret is " practice and reading "
Try to practice what you have learnt either through chat or with people in real life.At first , you will find it difficult to talk fluently ,
but with patience and endeavour your dream will true .Do not hesitate go on.
It seems You are trying very hard. You could learn more in one hour a day than 4 or 10 hours. The secret is ti have fun and enjoy it while doing it. Try learning small phrases first. Start with one topic: yourself. Ex.
1.- hola, mi nombre es… (hello, my name is)
2.- Vivo en California (I live in Califirnia or any other city)
3.- Yo trabajo en… (I work in…)
4.- Yo soy abogado (I am an attorney)
When you relate these new phrases to your own, it will be much easier to stay in your long term memory for there is purpose, association (you are associating these phrases with your own daily activities) and repetition.
This is better than learning: El gato es rojo (the cat is red), el perro ladra (the dog barks). These phrases you will learn in the future but now, they have no meaning and that is why people get discourage. Think about it. Next time you talk to your
friend, is it better to say: I work as a nurse or I am a salesperson or would you say: the cat is black?
Can you learn five of these phrase in one hour? Four? Maybe three? Whatever number you pick, Stick to it. All this in one hour! Then spend another 20 or 30 minutes maximum, reading, listening or both to acquire and build your vocabulary.
Studies show that 20 to 30 minute intervals are better than four or more hours. Our brain is only trained to absorb so much. Study for 30 minutes and then drop it. Let your mind absorb what you just ate (learned). I usually let it rest for a few hours, then I try to remember in my mind what I just learn. Don’t worry if only a few things come to you. Work with what you have. The rest is there believe me. it will come to mind later. Make it fun and you will see the results.
Sorry for the few misspells. One day we will have the option to come back and be able to correct these mistakes. Meantime, all I can say is: ouchhhh!!!
Yes the secret is " learn for fun ".Thus , you will never get bored , and learning would be much more fruitfull.
Yes, learn for fun, but better regularely and don’t be afraid of mistakes - and you will be successful!
Thanks for the feedback. I AM enjoying myself and I can say all of the simple phrases that you suggested arenas and I know much, much more. I know HOW to say many things and I read and listen daily in Spanish. I just don’t speak and write very little and find that trying to communicate comes out… in… pauses and … lot’s of… hesitation… between… every word… or two… like this. It’s not that I am literally incapable, it’s just that for fear of making mistakes or whatever reason I don’t speak.
Anyway, maybe my post was too long and people didn’t read it or something, but I said that I study so much not out of obligation, but because of the sheer pleasure I get from reading and listening to Spanish. It is very exhilarating to pick up an article in Spanish and have the ability to comprehend what is being said when less than 2 months ago I wouldn’t have even the slightest clue what it was about.
Yes it is a wonderful feeling to be able to read and listen and understand. Keep enjoying it and building up your confidence, familiarity with the language and your vocabulary. The brain is learning all the time, forming rules and putting labels on things. When you speak you will stumble and search for words. This will help you notice your gaps,and then you will notice many more things when you listen and read. Your speaking will gradually get better without you noticing. Just keep going.