One of my personal goals is to learn Spanish in the next five years. I'd like to teach Mini-moose along the way, but I'm worried that I'll get things wrong and then pass along my inaccuracies to him. I just found that the library system in the neighboring county (for which I still have the library card I obtained as a kid) offers courses online. They're Mango for adults and Little Pim for kids, but it looks like there are only 3 short videos for kids in the Little Pim section. I always said I'd get the Muzzy videos for him, but that was mostly because I wanted them so frakking bad when I was a kid. Instead, I got the Little Mermaid. Now I see that the reviews aren't so great.
So, a few questions. If you've taught yourself or your kids another language, how did you do it? I don't have the time (or the babysitter, more specifically) or the money for college courses or $500 computer software. I do have a friend who's fluent in Spanish and who I can probably call to spot-check my pronunciation, but I can't expect him to teach me an entire language over the phone. (He's in Costa Rica at the moment.) I have another friend a few hours away who is fluent. That's about it.
I think a couple of you speak multiple languages at home. Moose is barely two and still learning English--how confusing is it going to be for him to learn Spanish at the same time? I know kids do it all the time, but I'm just curious how it works out. Is there anything I can do to help him keep languages straight?
Our eventual goal is to be able to return to Honduras when a young girl who is very dear to us graduates high school. Last time I went I was with a group and needed a full-time translator. I'd very much like to be able to hold my own the next time around.
I think you have the right idea - if you are using it, even just a little every day the retention rate will be a lot better.
As someone coming from a native speaking standpoint, one of the most egregious things for me to hear is the drawled out vowel sounds most American high school students use because they are too lazy or embarrassed to get the pronunciation down correctly. Interestingly, my mom, who didn't learn English until she was nearly 18 years old, never really corrected my grammar - only my pronunciation.
I will add, I learned my Spanish from my extremely old-fashioned Ecuadorian grandmother, who also had no teeth. So I'm sure I probably spoke with an interesting accent all my own! In fact, Ellie and I have had hysterical conversations where she reveals to me that in fact my vocabulary was almost downright 'Victorian era'.
Thanks for the input. I think I'll be able to pick up the written aspect tolerably well, but it's definitely the pronunciation that worries me. One issue is that I'm very self-conscious and worry so much that I'm going to make a mistake that I end up not even trying. Another is that I have hearing problems. Volume is okay, but I have trouble differentiating between sounds. Things tend to sound alike to me, so I rely a lot on contextual clues. It makes for some interesting times when I mishear things. It's also almost impossible to pick out and follow one person's voice when there is background noise, even if they're standing right next to me. This has all started in the last seven or eight years, so I'm really hoping I can keep training myself to compensate. In the meantime, talking to people with accents (which didn't formerly bother me at all) is difficult, and I wonder how my pronunciation will end up when so many sounds slur together in my ears.
I'm not saying that to whine or try to make excuses. I'm just thinking out loud, and I guess the best way to solve a problem is to acknowledge first that a problem exists. If nothing else, I'd really like to be able to read J's letters in her own words, and THAT is eminently doable.
By the way, MNM, you cracked me up with your last paragraph. If my laughing just woke the kid, I'm blaming you.
I will totally accept blame for that... :D
I think for your auditory issues, the best thing to do is to really try to immerse yourself. Keep listening to the spoken language. It will take a few weeks or possibly a couple of months, but the noises, inflections and little verbal tics that people use will become more apparent to you.
We watch a shit-ton of Japanese cartoons in this house, so I'm actually surprised sometimes to hear English coming out of our TV. Interestingly - Japanese actually uses the same vowel pronunciation that Spanish does. Japanese folks actually have some of the best Spanish pronunciation out there, interestingly enough. One of my moms' favorite salsa bands is actually Japanese. They sing in perfect Spanish. I thought it was so strange, at the time.