August 3, 2012 12:50 PM Subscribe
How can I brush up my language skills, given I seem to have a difficulty with rote learning?
posted by mippy to education (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I took Spanish for GCSE (got an A), A-level (got a D, sadface), then two years later I took an intermediate Spanish module as part of my degree. In the classroom, I was brilliant at learning and remembering vocabulary, but my grammar skills really lacked. At university, I was the only person in my class who had learned Spanish at school, rather than a gap year in Costa Rica or Guatemala. (Much as I'd like to spend six months in Caracas accidentally mastering the subjunctive, I certainly couldn't afford it then and it's not currently viable as a grown-up...)
I can pick up a newspaper and read an article well enough (I can get a rough idea of one in French too, which I have never learned to speak but picked up vocab here and there) but in the ten years or so since, my listening, writing and speaking skills are shoddy. I think the issue is that anything 'interpretive', like vocabulary, comes easy to me, but anything involving rules, precision, and/or rote learning - times tables, scientific formule, the weird pronouns that you sometimes stick on Spanish verbs to indicate object as well as subject - doesn't appear to go in. (The only one that really did was the subjunctive, because I found it fascinating that there was a place in grammar for mood as well as tense.) It might be dyspraxia - I can quote you word for word magazine articles I read in my teens, but I have to ask my friends to tell me what my phone number is - or it might be that verbs are less sexy than words. Either way, despite years of learning, I can't say I 'speak Spanish' without it seeming fraudulent, and it would be nice to be able to go there when the chance arises and communicate and understand,
I was considering taking up Dutch or German, but although both are cousins of English there'd still be grammar involved. And it would be a shame if my Spanish rusted away. So how do you get behind learning something that's hard to take in? And if I wanted to improve my Spanish, where would I start? I'm not a beginner, of course, but with my grammatical skills being so patchy, would I be best just resitting the A-level all over again?