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Posts posted by SirTenenbaum

  1. Con "variedad" simplemente quería decir "acento" o "dialecto" aunque la palabra "dialecto" tiene una connotción negativa. Sí hay diferencias entre el español de México y el de España. Hasta es incorrecto decir "el español de México" o "el español de España" porque dentro de estos países hay muchas diferencias. Por ejemplo, sé que acentos de Andalucía en España son muy diferentes de lo que se escucharía típicamente en Madrid.

    Cuando la gente piensa en "el español de España" normalmente se refieren a una versión madrileña, la que puede ser muy distinta a otras variedades del español. Además, ¡se hablan varios idiomas en España! Por ejemplo, si vas a Barcelona, mucha gente va a hablar en Catalán en lugar de español aunque hay mucha gente bilingüe.

    ¿Dónde vas en España?

  2. Well, learning a language and maintaining a high level of proficiency in a language are two different things. Anybody could learn as many languages as a lifetime allows I suppose. However, if you don't use a language regularly, you start forgetting it quite easily. To maintain a high level of proficiency in 10 languages, one would have to use those 10 languages on a very regular basis which seems fairly difficult.

  3. Well, historically and linguistically there's nothing that would support the Tower of Babel tale from the Bible. A civilization developed enough to construct a tower of such height could only have existed within the last several thousand years. Several thousand years ago, people were all over the entire planet speaking thousands of different languages (just like we do today). It is linguistically impossible that every homo sapiens in Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Oceania spoke the same language within the past several thousand years. Language naturally changes all the time, and there is nothing that can stop it. For example if you think back to just 1,000 years ago (around the year 1000), nobody spoke anything close to modern English. A mere 2,000 years ago, none of the romance languages (Spanish, French, Portuguese) existed at all because Latin (from which the romance languages developed) was still spoken throughout Europe along with probably hundreds of languages from "barbarian" European tribes.

    The Tower of Babel story can't be based on fact if you examine history and linguistics.

  4. I spoke with one man from India who had a very interesting story. In India, there are over a dozen languages spoken throughout the country. His parents were multilingual, but mostly spoke a certain language in the home and community until he was ten (this was his native language). When he was ten, his family moved to a very different area of India where nobody spoke his native language. In the home, his parents spoke a different language than the one before since they were multilingual and could switch to the dominant language of the area. My friend actually ended up forgetting his native language. I don't know how long it took (he's in his 30's now), but he told me he doesn't remember the language he spoke as a child.

  5. I watched my first French movie while studying abroad in Mexico (strange, right?). At a university showing, I watched "Un conte de Noël" with Spanish subtitles with some friends. It was kind of a weird movie, but it got me interested in French. It wasn't until a few years later, though, when I took a semester of French and then started studying the language on my own as a hobby. Anyway, I'm glad I saw that movie!

  6. Something that you definitely must incorporate into your learning if you want to achieve higher levels of proficiency is obtaining massive exposure to real use of the language (not just isolated textbook exercises). Acquiring a language is a slow process that takes thousands of hours of contact with the language through reading books, having conversations, reading news articles, watching TV programs, reading commercials, etc. Just doing textbook exercises doesn't cut it, since it's relatively little contact with the language. Textbook exercises can be helpful, but they are not nearly enough.

  7. Could you just download and listen to podcasts in the language you're interested in? It would probably be nice to listen to a native speaker as a model, and you would just download the podcast than having to record. An interesting podcast for Spanish is "News in Slow Spanish" if that's interesting for you.

  8. Foreign language anxiety can be a problem for people. Even though I'm almost finish with my master's degree in Spanish Linguistics, I still feel uncomfortable speaking Spanish in certain situations. Although, the problem might not be so much Spanish as it is general nervousness or feeling uncomfortable. I might just tend to blame it on my Spanish even though I would still feel at a loss for words in similar situations even if I were speaking English.

  9. Something that has caught my attention while studying Spanish are a few key differences from textbook Spanish that I've encountered. For example, I remember learning that the subjunctive should always follow the phrase Qué bueno que.... But in my experience in Mexico, I have heard mostly the indicative after this phrase. For example: Qué bueno que llegaron a tiempo.

    Has anybody else encountered such differences with aspects of the language?

  10. I'd include to that list ''arabic''. There are plenty of arabic speaking countries in the world...

    So there is no doubt arabic should be added to that list :)

    I've heard from several different sources that "Arabic" is really a blanket term for what are about a dozen different languages. I actually know a girl from Morocco who mentioned that she and somebody from Syria would not be able to have a conversation although both of them would be speaking "Arabic." Somebody else also specified he was studying Egyptian Arabic (and only wanted to practice with people from Egypt) because Arabic in different countries were basically different.

  11. To put it bluntly, your in-laws are not highly informed about language acquisition. For whatever reason, second language acquisition happens much more smoothly before puberty. If you study a foreign language after hitting puberty, your chances of reaching a native-like ability (where a native-speaker would confuse you for a native-speaker) are basically zero. However, if you start learning a foreign language before puberty, your chances of reaching a native-like ability are much higher.

    There are populations all over the world where children are in bilingual settings and develop two (or more) languages at the same time and develop native competency in both. Your son will develop his English normally while he learns Spanish. Learning Spanish at a young age will have no lasting negative effect on his English. There is really no reason not to take advantage of an immersion program for children.

    Please try to keep your son in the immersion program if you can.

  12. This looks pretty cool since it's more than just flash cards. I've tried flash card software before, and I just can't stick with it since it's so boring. With Selingua do you have to input the words you want to learn or does it have preset lists?

  13. Really? I'm surprised. I check it just about every day in French, and it never gets boring for me. It's actually been fairly successful commercially; the sites have been up for several years. It just goes to show people have different tastes.

    For those who are interested, there are also versions in Spanish, Italian, and a couple other languages as well.

  14. ...and don't worry -- it always get easier.

    I can't agree more with this last statement. The more you do it, the easier it gets. When I started reading Harry Potter in French for fun, I understood very little to be honest. But I could tell I understood more by the end of my first book. By the end of my second book I realized I understood even more. Now that I'm in the middle of my fourth book, I think I can understand the majority (maybe 70-85%) of what I encounter. I think you just have to dive in with it and stick it out. It gradually becomes easier.

    Reading a book written for young adults is a very good idea since there would be a simpler vocabulary and grammar. I don't think there's anything wrong with reading translations of books you might like. As long as it's fun for you, do it!  : )

  15. Really there's no reason NOT to do this. The difficulty is when neither parent is a native speaker of the language since it's really hard to force yourself to consistently use the language with the child. Additionally, while some people think teaching their child a second language involves simply having them learn colors, animal names, etc. in the target language, real functional language use like come here, take it, What do you want to eat? cannot be neglected--and that's the difficult one to use and ingrain.

  16. Well, a site dedicated to phonetics which might be very helpful for you is from the University of Iowa at: http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/#

    Wikipedia is also probably a pretty good source. I might also be able to answer some questions you have. With phones and allophones, all phones are allophones when considering the phoneme to which they belong. The thing to examine is a phoneme. For example, in English we have a mental representation of /s/, which is a phoneme. The physical manifestation of /s/ can be which is a faithful allophone because it shares all the characteristics of /s/, but the physical manifestation of /s/ can also be [z]. Concerning the English phoneme /s/, is a faithful allophone and [z] is an unfaithful allophone.

  17. If you don't mind Spanish translations, your nephew could read Harry Potter in Spanish. Of course there is somewhat of a lack of Hispanic culture since the story is written by a British author about British things. But for being exposed to the language, reading Harry Potter would be fantastic. The same goes for reading a Spanish translation of any book.

    I like to read Harry Potter in French. I'm familiar with the story already which helps comprehension, and it's just plain fun.  : )

  18. I don't know if it inspired me, but a book that made a deep impression on me was Animal Farm by George Orwell. It's actually considered a novella since it's rather short. It's a quick read but really moving. The whole book is an allegory for the Bolshevik Revolution with all of the characters representing a person or a group. I highly recommend it.

  19. No me interesa vivir en España ya que su situación económica está fatal. También no me interesa porque hay tanta gente de los Estados Unidos que va a España y tantos estudiantes que van a España a estudiar español. Ya que hay un vínculo mucho más fuerte entre EE.UU y Latinoamérica, no entiendo por qué tantos estudiantes no quieren estudiar en Latinoamérica. Estudié en México y me fue muy bien. De hecho voy a vivir en México y voy a enseñar inglés. Puedo encontrar trabajo fácilmente y no paga mal tampoco.

    Creo que un país en Latinoamérica sería una opción más lógica para alguien de los Estados Unidos. Bueno, eso es lo que creo yo.

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