Una Pregunta Para Mis Latinos (all others who speak languages other than English are welcome as well:))

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    May 29, 2007 5:34 AM GMT
    I have a multiracial background. When it comes to my Latino background, I am part Mexican and Puerto Rican.

    I am not a native spanish speaker. However, I have spoken spanish for over 13 years now. I initially learned from my abuela (grandmother) and once she died, I learned from friends and through school. Spanish is also one of my majors in college. I have a great interest in spanish, italian, french, and portuguese (with spanish being at the top).

    At this point, I can write spanish practically fluently. I have never had problems chatting with someone in spanish or writing letters, essays, or things for my job (as I do bilingual customer service).

    However, when I have to SPEAK spanish, I panic and I don't know why exactly. I get very nervous, intimidated, and it's as if all my spanish disappared and I don't know a damn thing.

    My question is, how do I conquer this? How can I take the spanish I write and vocalize it to attain fluency?

    I date all types of Latinos as I love them all. I love various dialects and colloquialisms within different spanish speaking cultures. I'm very much into linguistics. I just hate how intimidated I get. It's like, since I'm not a full blood latino and a non-native speaker, I don't feel good enough.

    ¿Qué puedo hacer? (What can I do?)
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    May 29, 2007 5:45 AM GMT
    I think that that feeling of panic is common among almost all people that learn a second language primarily through study. It's really easy to become self-conscious about the way you speak, your grammar, etc., rather than just opening up and letting speech flow organically. I still have the problem with languages like French that I've studied for nearly a decade. I feel much more comfortable with my (admittedly bad) Spanish, maybe because I never studied it formally, instead picking it up while living on a farm in rural Jalisco. The only thing that has worked for me has been long periods of immersion. When the only language you use is, let's say, Portuguese, you have little choice but to come to become familiar with it. ;-)
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    May 29, 2007 5:57 AM GMT
    HEEEY THERE!!!

    Well...I'm Sebastian,I'm latin as well, and altought i'm 19 years old, i've had loooots of different jobs, and i learned to speak english and italian by myself.
    I got to LA since last year, and when i fisrt came here, i had that same feeling u have with spanish when speaking english.
    I think what u have to do, is hag out with more spanish speaking ppl, even when u don't speak too much with them, u'll get used to the accent and u'll understand more and more and then u'll be able to speak more fluently from time to time.

    i'd be glad to help u with anything, just ask me!...Languages are my hobby!

    good luck man!

    c u around.

    Sebastian.
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    May 29, 2007 11:52 AM GMT
    Your experience is completely ordinary for those of us who learned another language outside its native culture.

    In my case, I studied Spanish literature, so the stress was on reading and writing, not speaking. Dunno if you are studying lit or linguistics...Obviously, if you're writing, you can plot your language whereas speaking requires spontaneity. You have to become willing to fuck up. I always ask native speakers to correct me.

    I was married to a Cuban woman in my 20s and she preferred to speak English at home, but I ended up with a Cuban accent anyway. I also "hear" Spanish with a Cuban accent best. So, when I go to southern Spain, as I do pretty often, it usually takes me three days before I can make out the Spanish there. I lived in Mexico a year, but I still have difficulty making it out too.
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    May 29, 2007 12:35 PM GMT
    My wife is German, and she's been in the US since 1982. Her spoken English is flawless. But, her written English is all choppy and with weird syntax. The language may be the same, but speaking and writing clearly draw upon two entirely different skill sets. The difference is so striking that it makes me wonder if speaking and writing involve entirely different parts of the brain.

    But, to answer your question, the best way to master a spoken language is to immerse yourself in a culture where that's the only language spoken.
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    May 29, 2007 10:24 PM GMT
    Si no has vivido en un lugar donde hay que hablarlo dia y noche eso es lo que yo te recomiendo. No se precisamente como te sale el espanol cuando hablas pero me parece, por lo que escribes, que tienes un buen dominio del idioma. Me parece si estuvieras unos cinco o seis meses donde hay que hablar todo no tendrias mas verguenza. Tambien a la mayoria de la gente que he encontrado le gusta cuando uno habla su idoma aunque no sea 100% perfecto pero es que alguin por lo menos trata de hacerlo.
    Now in English:
    If you haven't live in a place where they speak Spanish all the time then I would recommend that. I'm not entirely sure what your spoken Spanish is like, but from what you say it seem like you have a good command of the language from what you say in your post. I think that if you went somewhere for five or six months where you had to speak Spanish all the time that the fear would leave you. Also the majority of people that I have met are quite happy to at least have someone speaking there language even if it is not 100% perfect.
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    May 29, 2007 10:47 PM GMT
    Gracias por el consejo.

    Pues, mi Español es una mezcla de Puerto Rico, México y España. Por amigos, he aprendido dialectos de áreas en las Américas del Sur y Central.

    En actualidad, pienso que soy fluente, pero tengo miedo de hablar a la gente que es fluente.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Thank you for the advice.

    Well, my Spanish is a mixture from Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Spain. Through friends, I hav learned various dialects from areas in Central and South America.

    In all honesty, I do think I'm fluent, but I have a fear of speaking to people that are fluent.

    I do agree that I need to go abroad for a period of time to conquer this fear. Not only would I do that, but I think this would really give me a better understanding of verbal communication. People throughout Latin America speak so differently. It's all so interesting to me.

    It's like how people in Northern and Southern Mexico speak different (in terms of speed). Or how Puerto Ricans leave "S's" off of words most of the time. I really want to be fluent, or at least be confident in my fluency. Being abroad would be the best option.
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    May 29, 2007 10:50 PM GMT
    Oops I meant to say "have" not "hav" in my English portion of my post. I'm a nerd so I had to say that.
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    May 30, 2007 3:21 AM GMT
    This is so true. I was born and raised in a non-English speaking country and now migrated here in the US (it'll be just a year in June). We only learned English in school, and I could say that I was good at it. I have no problems writing in English as well. Basically all we learned was what you would call "textbook" English. So all my life I didn't speak english if I didn't need to. So now, I have no choice but to speak the language. Writing and speaking language is so different if it's not your native language. When I speak english sometimes I get so nervous I can't say what I want to say! I find myself needing a moment to pause and breath.... LOLz. And one more thing, aside from the English language or whatever language it may be - one more thing you have to learn are the slangs and colloquials! I say "what the hell did he mean!?" It's a whole course you have to learn! I guess it just takes time, immerse yourself to the culture and speak the language all the time. Practice makes perfect. ;)
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    May 30, 2007 8:23 PM GMT
    From some one who works at two writing centers with students who are non-native speakers I understand where you are coming from. Also being some one who is bilingual and who is also a non-native speaker I totally know where you are coming from. A few things I tell my students is to read out loud to your self. Pick up the newpaper, a magazine, a book in Spanish and read it out loud. If you read silently you sound great in your head, but read it out loud and you will catch your errors. It will help with with speed and getting used to talking it. Also when some one corrects you, dont be shy and ask them to repeat the word/phrase, and to tell you why you are doing it wrong. Repeat it your self a few times until you get it right. If you are working in your skills you are bound to make mistakes, but that is the only way for you to learn. Once you get corrected and you force yourself to stop and make a mental note on how to speak the word/phrase correctly, you will never make the same mistake. Also you said that you speak several types of Spanish. Remember that just like any language it is mostly regional. West Coast people speak English way different than East Coast people and you sit two of them in a table and they will drive each other crazy, so it may not just be that you dont know how to say it, it may be that you know it one way and the other person knows it in a different way. It is ok to have your own "Spanish" since language is so relative to regions. I hope this helps.
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    May 30, 2007 8:38 PM GMT
    Hey...

    I am a American-born Latino, so I too had to learn Spanish like you. I did, aswell, feel uncomfortable in speaking spanish, due to fear of mocking by other Latinos, and just feeling awkward. However, it's somthing that you have to get over. I think it could be all in your head, like me. I have felt like you many times, and just blanked out. I was always scared and felt wierd when I spoke, so usually I spoke in english pantmiming(speled that wrong) the word for Native-Spanish Speakers. However, I am getting over this fear. I tell myself everyday that I am a Native Speaker, and know just as much spanish as the next. Yes I do have problems with blanking out on some words here and there, but I do that in ENglish, too. I think it maybe a confidence thing. I think if you tell yourself everyday that I can speak it, then you will.
    I mean at time, people(especially Latinos) may make fun of your Spanish, but don't let that bring you down. They "kid" cause they care, and they help you out with it too. Just working on it everyday with someone who is Native, talk to them, not type, and try to take the conversation further...IN SPANISH!!!
    When you get stuck, ask for help, they'll be sure to help you. Yes, Spanish can be hard and having confidence in yourself for any language can be frustrating, but think of it this way, which is worse men or Spanish? You can go out to a club, you can wear sexy clothes to get guys attention, and you can go up to a guy and ask them out. I mean that can be nerve wrecking, but we still do it anyway. If you can face your fear with asking out guys, you can so speak Spanish.
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    May 30, 2007 9:47 PM GMT
    I really appreciate everyone's advice/comments.

    I especially appreciate those by es2577 and Franko85. Those were great! lol.

    Yes, I really have to get over this. I can read and write it so well, better than most native speakers in my classes and outside of class (at work, etc.).

    It's really the slang I need to get use to. It's so confusing because in Dallas, most Latinos I meet are Mexican or from Central America, and their Spanish is so different at times. I always have to adapt and switch back and forth, which is very confusing to me.

    It's like how I dated a guy In NYC who's Puerto Rican and when I'd say one thing and he'd say another, we'd argue over who was right. But in reality, we BOTH were because we learned Spanish entirely different. Due to my location, my Puerto Rican Spanish isn't so great, so there are some choice words and/or colloquialisms I don't know.

    I just want to be able to watch Telemundo, Galavision, o lo que sea, without a problem. I HATE sitting there watching TV saying "HUH?", but I KNOW this stuff. I know some of you know what I mean. I'll make this work. Like one of you said, I'll say "I AM FLUENT":)
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    May 31, 2007 12:11 AM GMT
    I don't have experiences with Spanish, but I do speak German, Chinese, and Swedish (yes, it's quite a combination!) My undergrad degree is in linguistics, and I worked as an English teacher in Taiwan (where I came out) and an editor for ESL textbooks here in the USA, so I've had a bunch of experience with learning other languages.

    I'd just restate what others have said: it's going to be awkward to speak it with people, but you just have to go through that. Everyone has there own particular troubles. I always found that it was easier to speak another language than write it. By putting yourself into situations that you are forced to speak, that will really focus your brain to find the words. It's not easy, but that's about the only way to do it. I think that this is a parallel to people's fear of public speaking.

    I'm following my own advice as I'm going to Sweden in less than two weeks, and I'll be meeting a bunch of relatives that don't speak English well (I didn't know there were people in Sweden that didn't speak English, but I've found them) and writing back and forth in Swedish has been a chore. But, this is the only way I'm going to get better at it.

    One of my favorite quote's (which I can't find a source for) is "Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes from screwing up."

    Get out there and screw up.

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    Jun 04, 2007 9:47 AM GMT
    When I first moved to France, I always found I spoke French most fluently (even if I didn't dot all the t's and cross all the i's) in bars or at parties...

    Alcohol reduces inhibition, pratice makes perfect, so go out, get wasted and get your Spanish on until you feel comfortable! (Worked for me, I ended up writing a whole Masters thesis in French about local government...)
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    Jun 04, 2007 11:26 AM GMT
    spanish is taught differently to native and non native speakers. In college they wanted to put me in the spanish for spanish speakers classes because my spoken spanish was strong from spending time in spain, but my writing and reading abilities were not strong enough for this nor my spoken if you ask me. I will most likely always be better at hearing spanish than reading or writing it. To this day I can understand spanish best when spoken though now I tend to get nervos when speaking it. I find that my spanish is best when I am in a spanish speaking country or speaking with someone who does not know english. When last in spain a little over a year ago, I was very worried about how poor I thought my spanish was but family members were all impressed and actually thought I spoke better than some spaniards.
  • armadillo24

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    May 13, 2010 1:32 AM GMT
    I'm a Mexican that studied ENglish as a second language since kindergarden; but still the first times speaking in English outside of school I would feel really nervous. The only solution is just speak, don't think about mistakes, just talk, if you realize you had a mistake just say sorry and correct yourself, but don't worry, just let it go out.
    Also one of the best teachings I have ever had was to think in the other language, not to translate. Try listening to music in Spanish and see moies in Spanish, so you can try and think in Spanish.
    But always just forget about the language rules, the worst part it's to just say sorry.
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    May 13, 2010 1:47 AM GMT
    Hey! io falo Espaniol, Ingles, Italiano e Portugues, embora nao seja perfeito, mas se voce quer aprender a falar outro idioma, voce tem que aprender a nao ter verghona, or verguenza, or shame! icon_biggrin.gif
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    May 08, 2011 6:12 PM GMT
    Ah, quite an interesting thread! I find myself adjusting my accent quite a bit in different situations. I was born in Cádiz, Spain and lived there until I was 7 years old. As you can imagine, I first learned to speak Spanish and picked up the local "gaditano" accent.

    Unfortunately many varieties of Andalusian Spanish carry a similar social stigma in Spain as the Southern accent in the US; it's considered vulgar, lazy, uneducated, and improper. From my personal experience, mainly other Spaniards are the ones to comment on my accent rather than Latin Americans. Some Spaniards from North-Central Spain have this semi-subtle way of telling me that my Andaluz accent is humorous and not correct. I don't think my local accent is even that bad compared to people from rural areas of Andalusia (who are really challenging to understand!). However, I must admit that the paranoia has sometimes lead me to adjust my accent to sound more Castilian.

    Meanwhile my Latin American friends have always liked my Andaluz accent even if it's a little difficult for them to understand at times. I mean, many varieties of Andalusian Spanish are more similar to Latin American Spanish than to Castilian Spanish. They say speaking in my Andaluz accent makes me sound less harsh and snobbish compared to the typical Castilian accents. Many of them think that Andaluz Spanish shows more character and openness than Castilian Spanish.

    Oddly enough, my grandmother (who's Mexican American), doesn't care for my Andaluz accent, haha. She says because I'm part Mexican I should sound Mexican. Except she continually fails to remember that I lived in SPAIN (I'm also of Scottish heritage, but do I speak English with a Scottish accent? No!). She's made fun of my accent so much over the years that I just talk to her in English because I know it twerps her.

    Over time I've come to appreciate my accent for what it is. When you're confident in yourself, most people respond positively to it. I think the reason my accent was ridiculed in the past was because people could tell right away that I was uncomfortable with it. When I changed my attitude, I got very few criticisms of how I speak. Even my acquaintances from Spain see my accent as a breath of fresh air because I'm giving them a positive model for the Andaluz accent (which tends to be used in comedy and often very exaggerated in Spanish media). They seem to take my seriously for who I am and realize that I just sound different. That's all there is to it.
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    May 08, 2011 6:21 PM GMT
    Don't be afraid to speak! Practicing is essential to learning! Even if you do make mistakes, I doubt many would look down on you for it. Even those who do, these are people you probably wouldn't want to hang around anyway. Besides, you get better from making mistakes, no?

    I've met my share of American-born Hispanics who don't speak a word of Spanish and non-Hispanics who speak Spanish close to a native level. Everyone's different.
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    May 08, 2011 6:49 PM GMT
    sexy_sP_puto saidI have a multiracial background. When it comes to my Latino background, I am part Mexican and Puerto Rican.

    I am not a native spanish speaker. However, I have spoken spanish for over 13 years now. I initially learned from my abuela (grandmother) and once she died, I learned from friends and through school. Spanish is also one of my majors in college. I have a great interest in spanish, italian, french, and portuguese (with spanish being at the top).

    At this point, I can write spanish practically fluently. I have never had problems chatting with someone in spanish or writing letters, essays, or things for my job (as I do bilingual customer service).

    However, when I have to SPEAK spanish, I panic and I don't know why exactly. I get very nervous, intimidated, and it's as if all my spanish disappared and I don't know a damn thing.

    My question is, how do I conquer this? How can I take the spanish I write and vocalize it to attain fluency?

    I date all types of Latinos as I love them all. I love various dialects and colloquialisms within different spanish speaking cultures. I'm very much into linguistics. I just hate how intimidated I get. It's like, since I'm not a full blood latino and a non-native speaker, I don't feel good enough.

    ¿Qué puedo hacer? (What can I do?)


    Practice, use it as much as you can.
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    May 08, 2011 6:51 PM GMT
    I used to speak Dutch/Flemish better than I spoke English.

    Now, nobody I know speaks the language so it slowly decays.
    icon_sad.gif
    I miss speaking it.
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    May 08, 2011 6:51 PM GMT
    I know what you mean. Spanish is an extremely intimidating language because you have sooo many different dialects and conjugating can be a bitch! I understand Puerto Ricans and Dominicans perfectly because that's how I was raised but some other dialects are a little harder and it can slow the conversation down a little because you've either missed a word they said or they say something in a different dialect. For example if I said "Paco ta acotao" in Spain they would probably look at me like icon_confused.gif. I think the pressure of wanting to sound "fluent" or "native" instead of like someone who learned in school is what freezes your brain. You probably think "I might say this wrong...or does this word go before this?". The way to overcome this is to speak with someone or people who you feel comfortable enough with and who you know won't care if you make a small mistake. It'll help with being confident with other people. Also if you find yourself in a situation where you don't have to speak, speak anyways. Like Wrerick said, people like it when they see that you're trying icon_biggrin.gif
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    May 08, 2011 6:58 PM GMT
    BlackCat90 saidI know what you mean. Spanish is an extremely intimidating language because you have sooo many different dialects and conjugating can be a bitch! I understand Puerto Ricans and Dominicans perfectly because that's how I was raised but some other dialects are a little harder and it can slow the conversation down a little because you've either missed a word they said or they say something in a different dialect. For example if I said "Paco ta acotao" in Spain they would probably look at me like icon_confused.gif. I think the pressure of wanting to sound "fluent" or "native" instead of like someone who learned in school is what freezes your brain. You probably think "I might say this wrong...or does this word go before this?". The way to overcome this is to speak with someone or people who you feel comfortable enough with and who you know won't care if you make a small mistake. It'll help with being confident with other people. Also if you find yourself in a situation where you don't have to speak, speak anyways. Like Wrerick said, people like it when they see that you're trying icon_biggrin.gif


    "Paco ta acotao" would be perfectly understandable from Madrid and south of there since that's how many southern Spaniards would say it. La verdá eh que me guhtaría ehtá acohtao. icon_lol.gif
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    May 08, 2011 7:02 PM GMT

    "Paco ta acotao" would be perfectly understandable from Madrid and south of there since that's how many southern Spaniards would say it icon_lol.gif[/quote]

    en serio?!?! ay no sabia eso! aprendo algo nuevo cada dia!!
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    May 08, 2011 7:06 PM GMT
    BlackCat90 said
    "Paco ta acotao" would be perfectly understandable from Madrid and south of there since that's how many southern Spaniards would say it icon_lol.gif


    en serio?!?! ay no sabia eso! aprendo algo nuevo cada dia!![/quote]

    Pos sí, es que así se habla en Andalucía (también en las Islas Canarias). Bueno, Madrid no queda ni cerca de Andalucía, pero lleva algunos rasgos de los dialectos meridionales.