Today I’m speaking with Mike Jones, who completely confused me by greeting me
in Spanish. Now that we are perfectly clear that I am not bilingual, Mike, can I ask if
you were misinformed or were you being funny?
(Laughter) You know, there is really no reason not to learn another language. I’ve
only recently begun learning the Spanish language and I was really surprised at how
easy it is.
To my untrained ear, you certainly sound proficient in Spanish. How did you learn so
I know a couple of people who actually learned another language while they were
working out at the gym. Rosetta Stone lets you put everything you need to know
about learning the Spanish language right on your MP3 player. It’s not like the old
days when you got a bunch of CD’s and had to sit at the desk and study a new
So it’s something you can learn while driving or jogging? Doesn’t learning the
Spanish language get kind of boring that way?
Not at all. You can use mobile apps to learn Spanish through Rosetta Stone. You
can access the material on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad as well as through your
computer. And it’s not boring at all. Now you can even go online and talk with native
Spanish language speakers so that you can easily learn conversational Spanish.
You can even learn the Spanish language while you’re playing games.
There you have it, straight from Mike Jones, who recently added to his many talents
by quickly learning the Spanish language with the help of Rosetta Stone.
I hope that the next time we do an interview, we can do it is Spanish. You really
should check out what Rosetta Stone has to offer
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How to Actually Learn To Speak Spanish
“We can’t all afford to travel to a Spanish-speaking country to immerse ourselves in the language,” says Ira Riklis. So what real options are there for truly learning the language in a way that applies to our lives? The key is to learn the way a child does, by observation and applying those observations to your thought process. Get yourself out of thinking in English and into thinking in abstract, that way you avoid struggling with internalized translations.The most commonly known Spanish word is ‘hola’ which means ‘hi’. If you’ve known this long enough and say it often enough, you will not need to stop and think of ‘hi’ in English and then take an extra step to translate, you just know that a greeting is ‘hola’. This applies to conversation, where most people struggle the most and become self conscious. The most important thing you can know about learning a language is not to stop and translate in your head before speaking, just say it as fast as you can. You will make mistakes, but those are how you learn. Worrying about saying it right will only keep you from actually becoming a speaker.
A great product out there that I’m sure everyone knows about is Rosetta Stone. At a little under $500 for the first 5 levels, it’s a bit pricey but it actually works. The instructional booklet recommends two hour sessions, but I recommend half an hour sessions a few hours apart from each other twice a day. No one likes to be tired, taxed or frustrated and this way you reward yourself by feeling accomplished twice a day. You can find it at any major software retailer.
You can also try www.studyspanish.com, a free online study guide that works pretty well for checking up on grammar and pronunciation. Go on www.amazon.com and find yourself children’s story books written in Spanish, sort of their equivalent to ‘See Jane Run’ and start to associate images and spelling with meaning. Turn up the volume to Spanish foreign films such as ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and really listen to phrases and words that get repeated often, I know a lot of people who learned Japanese just by watching subtitled anime.
Most importantly, remember that learning a language is like learning to think differently, not just adding another word to your vocabulary. Keeping that in mind will make you more successful at learning any language.
Dress Attire: Casual
Location: 400 Bridge Street, Vail, CO 81657
Located in Vail, slopeside at the base of the Vista Bahn. Winter or Summer, the outside dining area with spectacular views is very hard to get a table. Come early and be prepared to wait for one of the coveted outside tables. Active Apres Ski bar scene. Very child friendly with a children’s playground right next door. Wonderful Guacamole.
Dress Attire: Casual
Location: 231 Gore Creek, Vail, CO 81657
Located in smack in the middle of Vail Village. This charming Tyrolean restaurant (and hotel) was on hand for Opening Day of the brand new Vail Ski Resort in 1962 . Winter or Summer, the outside dining patio is one of the great dining experiences because of the spectacular views. This is the very first restaurant that Diana and I patronized in Vail back in 1975 and, even more than 35 years later, no trip to Vail would be complete for us without at least one lunch on that lovely deck.
Dress Attire: Casual
Location: 240 Chapel Place, Avon, CO 81620
Family friendly place serving big portions (wait till you see the size of a Margarita) of tasty Mexican specialties at very reasonable prices. They suffered a serious fire in Summer 2010 and they may not be reopening at this location. That would be a shame.
Most experts say that the best way to learn Spanish is to hear, see, use, etc. As Ira Riklis knows some of us remember back to many, many years ago in school (for some elementary; for others high school) when vocabulary in a foreign language was learned through writing words over and over again perhaps ten to twelve times (saying words silently to self or out loud). Then one would drill self by having a list of the English equivalents and supplying the Spanish or other foreign language words from memory. Maybe the drill was from time to time verbal through our teacher asking us a question perhaps even in the foreign language and having us respond appropriately.
This “ancient” method was sometimes referred to as learning by rote (now almost a negative term). But—–isn’t it funny how much that early learning is still with us at an advanced age? Some may say it is because this learning took place during our formative years or was effective because it was our first “second” language.
Needless to say, as Ira Riklis knows, the “one size fits all” approach to language study may not be the best way for everyone to learn Spanish. For imprinting the brain with new words, find the best way for you and keep an open mind in every sense of the word(s) for success.
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Learning Spanish is more than formal study. It is what you pick up every day as you are alert to what is going on around you. Ira Riklis knows this is very much related to awareness training. A wise teacher recommended the use of a little notebook that can be carried at all times by men in the breast pocket of a shirt and by women in a pocket of a skirt, slacks or jacket or in a handbag. The purpose of the little notebook is to jot down all English words that you are curious about as to their Spanish translation or Spanish words that are new to you. This greatly increases one’s vocabulary of Spanish words and tends to make it more contemporary/current. English words can be translated at your leisure and the translations written in your little notebook.
How is this little notebook used further? Ira Riklis knows that in every life there is plenty of waiting time. Whether in a cab, standing in line for the movies or store checkout, sitting in the doctor’s office, etc. If you find yourself in these and other such situations, just pull out your little notebook and review your lists of words. You then can incorporate these “new to you” words into your personal Spanish vocabulary and gradually sound (and be) more and more fluent. You will be amazed at how powerful this technique is for learning.
Do you long to make a difference in this life? Are you looking for a mission? I bet you never thought that studying Spanish could help you with this desire. Well, as Ira Riklis knows, it can.
Interpreters are very much in demand. Think of all those sick people who seek medical help in a time of crisis but do not speak English. They go to a hospital emergency room in this country and are unable to communicate to the health care professionals who may not speak Spanish just what their problems are. Frustration and time wasted are then the order of the day (or probably the night). With your Spanish language skills you can change the scene from one of failure to one of success. With your assistance, men, women, children, and especially babies can receive the proper treatment and be on their way to healing as well as receive the necessary health-teaching that may prevent further problems.
Interpreters are in demand in many areas. Police work can be greatly facilitated when a Spanish-speaking interpreter accompanies the police into neighborhoods where English is not the first language. Also arrested suspects can be interviewed to clear up any misunderstandings when language is a problem.
The United States Census estimates that one in five households in the U.S. now speaks only Spanish (hard to believe but reported in the news). Also, as Ira Riklis knows, the numbers of non-English speaking U.S. residents is increasing.
Have you ever noticed that the DVDs of movies that you get from Netflix or Blockbuster have a feature on them that allows you to insert subtitles or have the dialogue in another language? Of course the most popular foreign language for these alternatives is Spanish. We are speaking here principally of English language movies.
Ira Riklis knows that just before you push “Play” you will see others options and one of those will allow you to play the movie dubbed in Spanish or have Spanish subtitles.
So how is this helpful in studying Spanish? Well, the suggestion has been made to watch the movie three times. The first viewing would be with English dialogue and Spanish subtitles just to get the gist of the storyline and notice how it is translated. The second time you would choose to play the movie with Spanish dubbed dialogue and English subtitles. Ira Riklis knows that by doing this you can really listen to the Spanish spoken and check every once in a while for the English translation. With the third viewing you would set the DVD for Spanish dialogue with Spanish subtitles and really get a workout in the language department.
Now how easy is that? Pick a favorite movie and have fun with it all the while increasing your language skills. You will be surprised at how much Spanish you pick up.
O.K. so you’ve been studying Spanish for a while and using your language skills whenever and wherever you can. Now you wonder, for the sake of mental challenge and for adding something new and different to your life, if you can add an additional language to your list of studies.
If you decide that this is what you will venture into, you need then to decide what your second foreign language will be. Do you decide on the basis of which language you might use when you travel? Let’s say you, like Ira Riklis, would like to travel in France so French would come in handy and make your travels more enjoyable. Will your decision be based on with whom you might converse? Maybe you have a friend whose native language is Russian and you then would have an opportunity to practice your Russian language skills when talking with this friend. Perhaps you might think like many Americans that Chinese is “the new Spanish” and so you will want to prepare for the future by studying some form of Chinese.
Well give yourself a break and make your second foreign language one that may be challenging but not so difficult that you might become easily discouraged such as one with a different alphabet from English (Russian or Chinese). Ira Riklis knows that you might also find that another Romance language such as French may be so close to Spanish that you will find at this time the study of both Spanish and French “cross contaminated”. So how about German? It is close enough in some ways to English, handy in travel, and different from Spanish so as to prevent accidentally using a Spanish word for a German one.
So many students of Spanish get nervous about studying and using the subjunctive tense. Ira Riklis knows that the subjunctive is required in Spanish in at least dependent clauses when the verb in the main clause expresses feelings or emotion, such as regret, fear, pity, hope, surprise etc. In other words you could say “fuzzy”.
Yes, uncertainty is a big part of life so to express oneself one needs a tense where the listener will understand what the speaker is really communicating. The subjunctive tense helps one express doubt, disbelief, uncertainty or denial about what is real.
When certain verbs are used in a question, doubt or assurance on the part of the person who asks the question determines whether the subjunctive or the indicative tense is used. Yes, Ira Riklis knows that the subjunctive tense is highly subjective! When one is discussing generally accepted fact, one uses the indicative. When there is some mental reservation, one uses the subjunctive tense.
How then can the student of Spanish hope to learn and use the subjunctive tense? Probably the best way is to familiarize yourself with the various forms of the tense most often used by reviewing a verb book (or use Internet resources). Next try to pick out the subjunctive tense usage in reading books, magazines, and newspapers. Listening for possible use of the subjunctive tense by speakers and trying to slip in a few of these verb forms in your conversation practice will help in developing skill in this area. Lastly don’t worry about the subjunctive!
You say that class is out for the summer? (Or you don’t take classes?) Learning Spanish is an ongoing process. How about reviewing materials used this past year (or in the distant past) in class? If you have a workbook that you will continue to use next year, do a few pages of work per day.
Feeling lazy? Ira Riklis likes to switch on a Spanish language television channel. You say that you can’t understand most of the dialogue? Relax and just let the Spanish flow over you. You’ll be surprised at how much you will pick up. You might even get hooked on a “novella” (Spanish language soap opera). You’ll get a handle on the story soon and begin to understand the words spoken by the characters.
On vacation and traveling? Don’t leave home without a little phrase book. Read (or study) a few pages every time you have to wait for someone or something (spouse stopping to fill the car tank with gas, sitting in an airport/airplane etc.).
Ira Riklis adds that while you are at it, don’t be afraid to use your Spanish with any Spanish-speaking person that you meet.
Keep your eyes open. Do you see a free Spanish language newspaper? See how much you can read with understanding. So just don’t wait for when “class is in session”. Be your own teacher and keep the learning going.