Learning Spanish for couples?
November 3, 2014 3:45 PM   Subscribe

I would like to learn Spanish with my husband, but we are looking for activities, or games, or just exercises that would be best for couple's learning. We have limited time available after work.

My husband's family on his dad's side is from Mexico, so he can speak conversationally (though he insists his Spanish is terrible). I have a very basic level, having used Duolingo a bit and a decent understanding of Latin roots. Duolingo isn't great because it's a solitary activity and after working all day I really value our time together in the evening.

So we are looking for any games we can play (board games, computer games, other games, whatever), or methods we can use to get me to conversational/reading capability, and increase his speaking ability which he is self conscious of (calling his grandma in Mexico is difficult for him!).
posted by polywomp to Education (3 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'd really recommend taking Spanish 101+ together at your local community college if you two are really serious about getting better and haven't already done so: he's probably well beyond in his speaking ability but could use the refresher in spelling and grammar and it'd likely be a good start for you. (Maybe it'd be too basic for him but I know other native/heritage speakers have reported being grateful for such review!) You could audit the course so you don't have to worry about grades. (I have tried self-study as well as more informal courses or programs but have found the classroom learning most helpful. You could even take online if in-person is not an option right now.)

Could you schedule a regular call his with grandmother where both of you could practice? Find a local meet-up to practice conversational Spanish over dinner? Regularly watch Telemundo or Univision? Read blogs in Spanish and comment? Try a project like volunteer to do a Spanish reading hour for kids at your local library? Go on an educational vacation where you spend two weeks in Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, etc. where you are immersed in the language and also can take a short class. I'm in a similar boat so I'm curious about others suggestions, too!
posted by smorgasbord at 4:08 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is probably a bit of a bummer, but two non-native speakers speaking a language to each other will not do very much to improve it. Your best bet would be to go to a Spanish-language meetup as a "date", or perhaps spend time with any native speaker friends of yours. You need a native speaker or an advanced non-native.

You do not mention that you have any textbook or other curriculum, so my impression is that you two are winging it. If that is the case, you really need to get yourself a book or some other set curriculum that you can do for thirty minutes or so (almost) every day. This will keep you on track with concrete goals so you can measure your progress and be encouraged by it. A lot of people love the Platiquemos course, which is just the FSI Spanish Basic course that you can download for free. I am also a big Assimil fan. Or, take the same class together as smogasbord recommended. You won't learn a language by playing board games, but perhaps you could quiz each other on the exercises in your textbook.

Also, there is no reason why you can't do solitary activities in addition to couple activities with your husband. In fact, I will go as far as to say that if you don't do solitary work, you will probably not be very successful. If you are serious, I think that most of your work is actually going to be solitary. You put in the time doing solitary study so you can do the couple's stuff. It is hard to think of a game that is going to make you absorb the subjunctive mood, for example. Spend a few minutes with flashcards or Duolingo on your phone while you are waiting in line at the grocery store or during those other small bits of idle time that we have during the day. I work a day job, too, but I usually find that by the time I come home I have been able to put in about 30 minutes of study time that I've done in small increments throughout the day. You could have a competition to see who did more solitary study than the other each day by any numbers of metrics. "I learned 12 words today" or "I reviewed 137 flash cards".

To that point, I think a lot of people rush into speaking too early. I do not think speaking is very effective until one has a rather firm foundation in a language because (1) you won't have very much to say and (2) you won't understand very much of what is said back to you. Duolingo is pretty basic, so if you haven't finished it or tested out of it, conversation is probably going to be a challenge. Athletes practice a lot before they play in a game and this is the same. Put in some time with the basics before branching into conversation. You could be each other's "friend" on Duolingo and compete that way, too. Think of it like being workout buddies - it is a solitary activity that you do together, but no one can lift the barbell for you.

Deseo a ambos mucha suerte!
posted by Tanizaki at 7:28 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

One of my professors in college had us watch a Spanish language film with Spanish subtitles.
posted by brujita at 9:03 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

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