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Is it easy or hard to learn Spanish just from listening to people talk?


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I think it is difficult to learn any new language just from listening to people talk, not to mention Spanish. I would think people need to learn the basis of the language and practice their reading, speaking, and writing skills, not only listen to people talk. Well, at least I cannot do that because I wouldn't understand of any word they say.

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I did learn Spanish from a combo of going to school and taking a course and being around Spanish-speaking people.

Both help.

The great part about being around Spanish-speaking people is that they help you learn slang. Slang is typically not taught in Spanish classes. They also don't teach - at least in America - Castillian.

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I think both would help too. In Spanish class they do teach you the proper way to speak and write in Spanish. But when you actually talk to someone, just like any language, there is definitely going to be things that they do not teach you. With English there are a lot of sayings and things now, that a person who isn't fluent, would not understand.

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I think it is hard to learn any language that way. It's possible, but it's not really the best way. Learning a new language isn't just about being able to communicate, it's also about learning grammar, proper sentence structuring, legitimate vocabulary versus colloquial vocabulary, and etc. If you think about it, we speak differently than how we would write an essay for a teacher or a memo for work. Also we speak differently to our friends and family than how we would to our bosses.

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My dad claims that he has roughly learned how to speak basic Visayan (a local dialect) just by listening to his officemates speak Visayan. So I guess that it's possible learn any language just by listening to other people talk. After all, you can learn and absorb new words thru constant repetition.

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I'd say it's probably pretty difficult to learn a language just from hearing someone else speak it, at least for adults. Children would definitely have an easier time picking it up, that is how you originally learned your native language afterall. In general though, immersing yourself in a language and culture certainly can help to facilitate learning, but I would use it as tool to use in conjunction with other tools and resources.

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If you hang around people that speak Spanish and you are with them all day, every day, you are bound to learn A LOT of Spanish. This being said, any language you hang around long enough you'll soon learn. However for writing and reading it's a 50/50 chance you'll learn it just from hearing the conversations.

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Please don't try to learn this language by listening to people talking, especially not if you don't bring any experience. It's almost impossible to adapt this language just by listening. Spanish people are talking way too fast and there are several accents, which means depending on whom you listening to they pronounce the same words in a different way. I studied Spanish for three years and even after knowing the basics I wasn't able to comprehend a conversation.

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In order to speak Spanish well, you should take a course and also be around people native to the language.  This process allows you to obtain a full view of this language. A course provides you with the technical aspects including how to read and write in Spanish. Spanish-speaking people help you understand slang terms and get into the rhythm of daily discourse.

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For some people, those who have an auditory learning style, being surrounded by people who speak the language can help a great deal. However, you have to have some basic knowledge of the language. If you know nothing, then frustration would quickly follow, which might hinder the process.

If you know basic words and structure, and have a translation dictionary, then you would be surprised at how quickly it all falls together if you are immersed in the language. This happened to me when I was learning sign language and Spanish. Within a couple of weeks, you would be understanding and speaking like you never imagined.

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Hi! This is a good question because I work in an industry where the primary language is Spanish. However, I have only been working there for about 2 months. I have only picked up certain words and phrases, but I am nowhere near fluent! I think in order for you to learn by listening to people you'll also need to spend some time at home maybe 30 minutes a day on your own looking at the words/phrases. At least by listening to others, you'll grasp the pronunciations if anything else. Happy learning! xo

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Not only Spanish, but I think it's much harder to learn any language from just listening to people talk. You have to at least learn the basic. I think Spanish is a more faster spoken language which also makes it more difficult to separate words :confused:.

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If I were five years old and I just arrived in a Spanish-speaking country, I'd probably be speaking it like a native in a few months even if I have not spoken a word of Spanish before. I think that as we grow older, it gets harder to learn any language just by listening to other people talk. But it really depends. My aunt was already an adult when she worked in Hong Kong and after a few years, she was speaking Cantonese fluently without taking any classes or formal studies. I guess she was just lucky.

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I think it would be very difficult in spanish to learn the verb endings by just listening to people talk.  At some point, you just have to sit down and memorize the endings for past and future as well as different voices ( I, you, he etc). 

What is easier to learn are the words that are similar to english, but pronounced slightly different.  I often ´learn´words while watching TV just by hearing them say something that I recognize from english.

But meh.. those verb endings are going to kill you.

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Is it easy? No way. Is it hard? Very. Is it impossible? Nothing is impossible :) At least that's what I like to think. I've had my fair share of interactions with Latin Americans, and it has helped me learn quite a bit, but it's more like a bonus to my text and grammar studies. Truth be told, any person who is doing only one or the other, without having in consideration the different faces of learning a language, is doing it wrong in my book.

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  • 2 years later...

I think it depends on how your brain learns.  For example, I'm dyslexic, so I can't just hear and understand things.  If you tell me a bunch of instructions, I won't be able to follow them.  However, if you show me what to do once or write it down, I will be able to pick it up the first time that I do it.  Language is the same way for me.  When I translate, I write it down.  Most of the time, I don't have to look at it again to have it memorized; it's the mere act of writing it down that helps me.  I wouldn't be able to learn just from hearing others talk.  If they use words that I already know, I can pick them out when they speak, but as for learning strictly from hearing others talk, I can't do it.  I learned to speak by reading.  My daughter is the same way.  I put the lyrics on for songs and subtitles on for the TV, as well as reading books to her.  She went from being 2 1/2 and only being able to say Mommy and Daddy and Hi to full sentences just a couple months later.  She's not even three yet and she will come up to me and say, "I need some food" when she's hungry.  She can even specify what she wants.  "I need some pancakes."  "I need some raisin bread". 

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6 hours ago, czarina84 said:

However, if you show me what to do once or write it down, I will be able to pick it up the first time that I do it.  Language is the same way for me.  When I translate, I write it down.  Most of the time, I don't have to look at it again to have it memorized; it's the mere act of writing it down that helps me.

In my opinion that would only work for your short term memory.
You'd need to review it (or in your case, rewrite it) at least 7 times before it's all (semi-)permanent.
Just try it, write a totally new word now and never write it down the second time again.
Let's see if you would still know that one word a month later. :P

Side note: I would like to ask you to use the "enter" button more frequently, that makes reading posts a whole lot easier.
The bigger the block of text is, the more likely anyone else will misread it.

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This question brought to mind an old episode of The Simpsons TV series, in which Bart is sent to a language exchange in France and can't talk a French world despite he was trying to learn the language, and he was listening to the family he was sent with to learn from.

If someone never watched this episode, the French family Bart lives with is the abusive kind, and rather than teaching, they treat Bart really nasty.

One day Bart sees the opportunity to denounce them when finding a cop on his way down the French streets, but the police doesn't understand him talking in English (or the local language the series are translated into according the countries in which the program is aired) 

The fact is that, in desperation, Bart starts talking in French to explain, and therefore rescued from the abusive family. 

It was an extreme need what pushes him to make use of what he was learning, and a prove that listening to someone talk in a different language than yours may eventually contribute you learn this way from them. It might be easy or hard based on your willingness to learn, but that you learn it is true, and usually called language "absorption" or language "immersion".

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15 hours ago, Blaveloper said:

In my opinion that would only work for your short term memory.
You'd need to review it (or in your case, rewrite it) at least 7 times before it's all (semi-)permanent.
Just try it, write a totally new word now and never write it down the second time again.
Let's see if you would still know that one word a month later. :P

Side note: I would like to ask you to use the "enter" button more frequently, that makes reading posts a whole lot easier.
The bigger the block of text is, the more likely anyone else will misread it.

I apologize. I will try to make new paragraphs more often.  I have tried it.  I mentioned that in my post.  That's how I do all the learning.  I should have been more specific.  I write it down once.  When I hear the word, I can remember the meaning, although I never reread the definition. 

I'm not bragging.  My brain is just wired differently.  I was not being mean or antagonistic.  I was just saying that some people have brains that function differently, so learning is a completely different process and that absorbing knowledge is unique to certain individuals. 

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You need to do some basic vocabulary building before you can just listen to people and learn.    I think it is easiest to learn vocabulary through lessons, and then pick up grammar from just listening to people.. but if you don´t know the vocabulary, you will only rarely be able to figure out any words.


it is why stuff like flashcards are such a good idea early on.

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  • 1 month later...

Actually, it depends on the person that how quickly he/she can catch the language. Some people can learn it just by listening and they catch the language very fast and some are different who can not catch it very fast they need some time to learn it. So we can't say that it is easy or hard to learn Spanish from listening, it depends on the person. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I can't imagine learning a language only by listening. In order to improve I am watching TV in Spanish, go to Intercambios and have conversation classes, BUT some parts of the Spanish grammar should be learned and let's not talk about all these irregular verb forms in Indefinido...


In my opinion only a combination of both can make your Spanish level high.


A combination of learning vocabulary, grammar and being around Spanish-speaking people will make you improve rapidly!

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