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Spanish Immersion

almostnever

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    I'd like to drastically improve my Spanish speaking skills over the next year and was wondering if anyone has gone to Mexico or Central America for a month or so to work on his/her Spanish?

    I took up through intermediate Spanish classes while in undergrad, and can understand regular conservation pretty well; however, speaking fluidly is an issue for me. I can study grammar all day long and listen to others speak (no real issues with watching TV or listening to music in Spanish), but I'm not going to improve without actually speaking back. I'd like to go somewhere where I'm surrounded by mostly Spanish speakers so I can't revert back to English. Learning some medical Spanish would be a plus too.

    So, has anyone done this?
     
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    GodComplex

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      My situation is a little different than what you want to do, but I will still try and answer your question anyways. I didn't go to Mexico for a long duration of time, but I always grew up in neighborhoods that were 90%+ Hispanic and none of my firnds parents spoke English. I had access to lots of Spanish speakers for practice and, when I decided to get more serious about learning Spanish, I started to utilize all of these resources and elected to only speak Spanish to my Spanish speaking friends/acquaintances (including a native speaker I was living with, which helped a lot for practice).

      Once I started speaking Spanish daily then my ability to speak more fluidly improved at a very rapid rate. I saw major improvements in short periods of time and I wasn't even fully immersed (still spoke around 60% English throughout the day). Nowadays I can go a whole day without having to speak a full sentence of English (there are some english words around where I live that even the non-English speakers use, like "sink", so some Spanglish is usually spoken). Assuming you have a very strong foundation in Spanish then I would assume that a month of actual immersion would greatly benefit you in speaking and in being able to understand without having to translate what they say in your head.
       
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      Holmwood

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        I'd like to drastically improve my Spanish speaking skills over the next year and was wondering if anyone has gone to Mexico or Central America for a month or so to work on his/her Spanish?

        I took up through intermediate Spanish classes while in undergrad, and can understand regular conservation pretty well; however, speaking fluidly is an issue for me. I can study grammar all day long and listen to others speak (no real issues with watching TV or listening to music in Spanish), but I'm not going to improve without actually speaking back. I'd like to go somewhere where I'm surrounded by mostly Spanish speakers so I can't revert back to English. Learning some medical Spanish would be a plus too.

        So, has anyone done this?
        You can do this online as well.
         
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        onceawolverine

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          I'd like to drastically improve my Spanish speaking skills over the next year and was wondering if anyone has gone to Mexico or Central America for a month or so to work on his/her Spanish?

          I took up through intermediate Spanish classes while in undergrad, and can understand regular conservation pretty well; however, speaking fluidly is an issue for me. I can study grammar all day long and listen to others speak (no real issues with watching TV or listening to music in Spanish), but I'm not going to improve without actually speaking back. I'd like to go somewhere where I'm surrounded by mostly Spanish speakers so I can't revert back to English. Learning some medical Spanish would be a plus too.

          So, has anyone done this?
          I have a very similar background as you, in terms of proficiency and length of study. Thankfully, I have always had an adequate accent, often complimented by professors or teachers who expect far worse. I went to Costa Rica this past summer for a language immersion program -- 6 hours of one-on-one class every day in a language institute. Totally grueling. Totally worth it. I came back with more confidence than I'd ever had, which lead me to speak even more, which lead me to get even better. A beautiful feedforward mechanism. I highly recommend any kind of similar experience to anyone who really wants to get better at speaking the language.

          You can do this online as well.
          Totally true. But there is something intangibly powerful about actually living in a foreign country, being completely immersed in the language and culture, unable to use your native tongue as a crutch. I'd say that, as long as money/travel aren't too insurmountable an obstacle, it's worth it to learn in person.
           

          karayaa

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            I'd like to drastically improve my Spanish speaking skills over the next year and was wondering if anyone has gone to Mexico or Central America for a month or so to work on his/her Spanish?

            I took up through intermediate Spanish classes while in undergrad, and can understand regular conservation pretty well; however, speaking fluidly is an issue for me. I can study grammar all day long and listen to others speak (no real issues with watching TV or listening to music in Spanish), but I'm not going to improve without actually speaking back. I'd like to go somewhere where I'm surrounded by mostly Spanish speakers so I can't revert back to English. Learning some medical Spanish would be a plus too.

            So, has anyone done this?
            Dude, go for it. Who cares if someone else on this forum has done it.
            You would learn a ton, not just language skills.
             

            WhittyPsyche

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              just wondering, how do you do this online? this is something I really want to do also but don't have the option of traveling for an extensive amount of time.

              There are a few credible sites. I've only had experience with Nulengua. Basically you buy credits that you can use to pay your instructor. (They give a good sum of free credits so you can try out a bunch of instructors in the beginning) So basically they give you a list of teachers/conversationalists that have different focuses and different level preferences (you can even find medicine/science focused instructors). You test out a few, choose one and make a schedule with them for conversations, they use software developed by Skype so it's visual and auditory, and you use it to have your discussions. You can have three a day, two a week, doesn't matter you just schedule appointments with instructors. They work with you to create a lesson plan but it can be informal if you choose, or structured like a course, they will use your interests to gauge what the conversations should focus on at each appointment.

              I used to "meet" once a week with an Ecuadorian instructor. I wanted to work on my ability to respond quickly, my writing and reading had already reached beyond the advanced level but I felt like I was analyzing too much in my head. It helped tremendously because he kept me accountable kept track of my speed over time and used interesting topics and current issues as points of conversation. I really enjoyed it, but I also used Spanish daily at work, and in my community, It's probably not the best "immersion" if you aren't using the language in everyday situations, but a good supplement if it's the only option.
               
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              almostnever

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                I have a very similar background as you, in terms of proficiency and length of study. Thankfully, I have always had an adequate accent, often complimented by professors or teachers who expect far worse. I went to Costa Rica this past summer for a language immersion program -- 6 hours of one-on-one class every day in a language institute. Totally grueling. Totally worth it. I came back with more confidence than I'd ever had, which lead me to speak even more, which lead me to get even better. A beautiful feedforward mechanism. I highly recommend any kind of similar experience to anyone who really wants to get better at speaking the language.


                Totally true. But there is something intangibly powerful about actually living in a foreign country, being completely immersed in the language and culture, unable to use your native tongue as a crutch. I'd say that, as long as money/travel aren't too insurmountable an obstacle, it's worth it to learn in person.
                That sounds awesome! Where in Costa Rica did you go? (Feel free to PM me.)

                Dude, go for it. Who cares if someone else on this forum has done it.
                You would learn a ton, not just language skills.
                I will do it regardless of whether or not people here have done it. I'm just looking for where people have gone, what they thought, and advice after doing something like this.
                 

                Calcasieu

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                  The immersion is always a plus when it comes to language learning. I graduated with a degree in Spanish, but it wasn't until I lived in Argentina for a couple of years that I reached the level of fluency that I wanted.

                  A lot of the larger cities in Latin America have countless language schools that cater to foreigners. In such a school you can work on learning new grammar points and practice them in speech. Most language schools will even arrange a home stay where you are placed in a native speaker's home. However, home stays can be hit or miss because some host families treat it as strictly business and do not interact much with their student guests while other hosts fully embrace them. You'll really have to do some research about the schools beforehand, though. Feel free to PM me and I can give you pointers as to what to look forward to in a language school (I worked at several in Buenos Aires).

                  However, if you do end up doing a program with other English speakers, try to make a pact with them to only speak in Spanish while outside of class. I met a lot of expatriates in Argentina who only hung out with other expatriates while only speaking English, and their time spent in the country belied their mastery (or lack thereof) of the language.

                  If going abroad ends up not being an option, you can look up local Spanish language groups (meetup.com is a good source) in your area that hold informal get togethers for conversation. Also, if you live in a larger city, there are bound to also be cultural organizations that hold events where you can interact with native speakers.

                  Please feel free to PM me about anything related to learning Spanish since that was my career field prior to pursuing medicine.
                   
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                  skittles1

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                    Yes, I went to South America for a month during my gap year. I found a language school there, took classes in the mornings 5 days a week and spent the weekends and afternoons exploring. It was awesome and my Spanish improved.
                     
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                    darkjedi

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                      There are many Spanish immersion programs all over central and south america. I did a medical Spanish one during my summer between my MS1 and MS2 year and found it an incredibly helpful experience which drastically improved my Spanish.

                      If you already have a conversational baseline of Spanish, it may not even be necessary to do an official Spanish language program, as the more advanced you are it becomes increasingly more important to just spend day in and day out speaking and listening to Spanish. The nice thing about some programs is that they can set you up with host families, which is something I highly recommend.
                       
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