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  1. #1
    McGinley is offline Cadet
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    Help with languages

    Good afternoon ladies and gents,

    I have a question pertaining to learning a language, and possible study and/or programs to use. Currently, I am attending WSU majoring in Criminal Justice. In order to complete my degree I need to have at least three semesters of a language under my belt. The college offers many different languages, but I believe Spanish would be more beneficial to the LEO career. I took two years of German in high school, and have completely forgotten the basic fundamentals.

    If anyone could shed some light on how to learn a language efficiently I would greatly appreciated it! Thank you

    -Conor

  2. #2
    dmclark's Avatar
    dmclark is offline Moderator & Double X-Fed
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    Spanish is great and you'll use it often on or off the job. It won't kill your GPA while in school either. German is not going to help you going forward. Don't get sucked into something exotic because you won't be conversational in Pashto or Urdu in 3 semesters and it's hard on your brain.
    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
    ― Hunter S. Thompson

  3. #3
    McGinley is offline Cadet
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    Could you possibly offer some suggestions on how to make learning a language easier, if that is even possible? It seems that learning a language is not the easiest thing to conquer for me. I do not want to enter the college course without knowing the basic fundamentals. (ie pronunciation, basic phrases etc) Would you suggest something like Rosetta Stone? I have heard mixed reviews on that program, or something as basic as a dictionary and Spanish book?

    Thank you,

    -Conor

  4. #4
    Bill M is offline Officer
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    Learning a language is never "easy", though it does come easier to some than others. You need to have a deep desire to do it. And, truthfully, while College courses are nice, you can spend 4 years in college learning Spanish and know how to order a meal in a restaurant. Then you get to the real world and realize that you have no idea how to talk about towing a car. Formal courses are good for giving you a deeper understanding of grammar in the second language (and actually, as a side effect, in English too) and they have their place as well. I'll share with you how I learned Spanish.

    I started with Rosetta Stone. This was several years ago when they didn't have as many "levels". This software is expensive and you will NOT finish the program if you don't commit to it. Most people start it and never finish. But, if the desire is there, it will give you a nice foundation without getting into technical grammar. You will NOT be conversational when you finish it and it is not the holy grail. But, in my opinion, it was worth it for me as a foundation. I then purchased several books on advanced Spanish grammar and vocabulary. Studyspanish.com is a great free resource and has several free lessons, taking you through advanced grammar concepts and the basic verb tenses. I also took advantage of the 6 or 7 Spanish TV stations that I get and watch those. I listen to Spanish radio when I'm in the patrol car. All of my electronics, bank accounts, cell phone, Facebook, etc. are all set to "Spanish" as the language preference. I practice my Spanish at work with fluent co-workers and citizens. I have translated legal documents into Spanish for my department (with a native proofreader correcting nay errors). I have attended a law enforcement immersion program. I also have a law enforcement book full of Spanish vocabulary that is relevant to my job.

    The key is to immerse yourself as much as possible and to study/practice every day. Like I said in another thread, I would not consider myself completely fluent, but I can hold a conversation and pretty much get any point across that I want. Rarely a day goes by where I'm not exposed to some Spanish. If I could afford it, I'd go spend a month in Central America somewhere.

    I'm happy to help in any way I can if you need more advice.

  5. #5
    McGinley is offline Cadet
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    Bill,

    Thank you very much for your response! I have put some money aside for Rosetta Stone, and am thinking about purchasing it soon. I remember when it first came out my dad and I tested it in the mall of all places, and I found out that it really does help in most cases. I also, just recently, purchased a Spanish phrase book and chart to help me get my feet on the ground. You have surely given me many different sources to look into. If I had the time, and/or money, I would gladly go to Central America. That seems like the most optimal place to learn Spanish.

    Thank you once again, and I will surely be contacting you via pm if I have any more questions!

    -Conor

  6. #6
    dmclark's Avatar
    dmclark is offline Moderator & Double X-Fed
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    Even with an immersion-type of program, you have to commit to speaking and know you'll make mistakes. Keep speaking. Our instructors at FSI told us that if your not committed and speaking within the first 90 days, you won't be successful. My first immersion was Mexico, followed by Colombia and Peru. Peruvians speak excellent Spanish, then I was assigned to Caracas and I was really going crazy for the first 90 days. I thought no one could speak faster!

    Practice, practice, practice. And that means speaking. You want to develop your mouth AND your ear for words and eventually...dialects. Telling a Salvadorean from a Chilean from a Colombian means you're well on your way. Good Luck!
    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
    ― Hunter S. Thompson

  7. #7
    McGinley is offline Cadet
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    DM,

    The good thing is that where I work we have a couple of Hispanic employees so I could always practice with them. Maybe if I scrounge up some money I can take a trip south. I would come back with a nice tan, and a new language!

    Thank you for your help as well! It is greatly appreciated!

    -Conor

  8. #8
    dmclark's Avatar
    dmclark is offline Moderator & Double X-Fed
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    There are some excellent immersion programs in Mexico and Costa Rica!
    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
    ― Hunter S. Thompson

  9. #9
    McGinley is offline Cadet
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    I'll have to do a little bit of research. Maybe I can join one this summer!

  10. #10
    gmc1's Avatar
    gmc1 is offline Rookie
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    Quote Originally Posted by McGinley View Post
    ,

    If anyone could shed some light on how to learn a language efficiently I would greatly appreciated it! Thank you

    -Conor
    Have you looked into doing a semester/year abroad? I did one semester, and the experience was invaluable for learning the language (in my case French). You have no choice but to speak if you want to survive. My school had a "bilateral exchange program" that made the cost identical to studying here (I had to cover airfare though). I was able to get many study abroad specific scholarships that more than covered any other cost differentials.

    Otherwise, I would say no one program or system is the complete solution. Rosetta Stone is a good start, Pimsleur is good for listening, speaking, pronounciation....but none of them work sitting on your bookshelf.

    This might be a long shot as I don't know your situation, but a sweet deal if you've ever considered military service would be the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. Military experience to add to the resume, plus you get PAID to learn a language. Once you pass the DLPT (Defense Language Proficiency Test) at a certain level, then you get incentive pay every month to maintain your language. That's how I started in French. The downside is there is no guarantee you'll get to pick Spanish. It could be Urdu, Dari, Chinese, Arabic, Tagalog, Greek, who knows? And there are only certain MOS's that would qualify for a trip to DLI.

    And just in case you one day think about going for DLI with the military, GET IT IN WRITING BEFORE YOU ENLIST. Or suffer the shaft. I warned you, so my conscience is clear. (P.S. That's good advice for any promises a recruiter makes).


 

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