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October 12, 2009 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Relocating to South America: haven't touched Spanish in 20 years, how do I freshen my lingual skills up?

Just got a job offer, finally, but it requires moving to Bogota, Columbia for a year. I took 11 years of Spanish between grade/high school/college but it's been 20 years since I've
spoken it. It's not a job requirement, but it would help with
the team and getting acclimated.

So, what's the best and quickest way? I primarily need help
with the complex verb conjugation (past participle, etc.), a quick
refresher on vocab and getting my speed back. I think Rosetta Stone might be too simple (I know gato from perro) but I don't know what they do on advanced levels.

posted by devilish to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I love this book (link below). I speak Spanish pretty fluently but still keep it around at work to putz with and refresh my grammar. I learned all my Spanish in school and through volunteer work, so the book + native speaker corrections are great. ¬°suerte!

posted by ShadePlant at 9:57 AM on October 12, 2009

maybe I'll be the first one to tell you to check out livemocha, which is the go-to site for online language work. I'm not sure how well they do on the advanced levels (probably not stellar I guess), however it is a good way to connect with a bunch of native speakers and practice your conversation, which I'm guessing is the best way to get back in the swing of things
posted by Think_Long at 9:58 AM on October 12, 2009

I would worry about picking up on your occupational lexicon and the words you think you'll need to survive and commit yourself to some kind of long-term, gradual study.

In my experience, people have a lot of patience with incorrect conjugation for someone who isn't a native speaker, so you shouldn't have too many problems at first. If you have to write something or make a presentation at work which will require perfect grammar and conjugation, I would have someone at work go over it with you and make sure that everything is as it needs to be.

The best way to learn a language is by immersion, which you'll obviously have plenty of, but it will still take time to pick up. Just be patient.
posted by timdicator at 10:54 AM on October 12, 2009

Also, check with the HR department of your company. Usually they include private language lessons as part of an overseas assignment, but these days maybe not. Worth looking into.
posted by lovejones at 1:00 PM on October 12, 2009

I recently refreshed my Spanish using Michel Thomas's Language Programs. I loaded them onto my MP3 player and found it a really effective way of learning languages.

He teaches how to speak, not just to understand. I never learnt a language this easily. It requires some self-motivation, but no rote learning.
posted by icheyne at 3:01 PM on October 12, 2009

Not really an answer to the question, but I'd get used to typing Colombia instead of Columbia.

Also, practice answering questions like "what do you think of Colombia? Why did you come to Colombia? What do people in your country think of Colombia?" - I found people intensely interested in my views of the country, the people and what the perception is of the country where I came from.

I'm a little bit jealous of you! Have a great time!
posted by Admira at 10:20 PM on October 12, 2009

studyspanish.com has grammar lessons and quizzes.

sharedtalk.com is a site that connects speakers of different languages, possibly similar to livemocha. It's sponsored by Rosetta Stone.
posted by ramenopres at 11:22 AM on October 13, 2009

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