Moving from Intermediate to Advanced Spanish

NickF

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I've been living in Buenos Aires for the past year. I studied Spanish some in the U.S. prior to moving. My wife and kids are fluent in Spanish (though we speak English in the home to keep the kids' English at a high level.) I've taken a fair amount of classes (completed through level 7 of 8 at UBA). I feel like my speaking still has a ways to go though. I'm often searching for the word I want to use (that I know in English), mispronounce things, mis-congugate verbs, etc., etc. I think I'm aware of most of the errors I make, but just can't correct them in time before they leave my mouth.

Most likely all of this will get better with time, but I want to accelerate that time if possible. I would have more business opportunities if my Spanish were better. I'm curious to hear from any that have attained an advanced, fluent, near-fluent level. Any tips on getting to the next level. Would be curious to hear your story on how you did it. And if you are at this level, congrats to you. Learning Spanish has been a real challenge.
 

fifs2

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I'm curious to hear from any that have attained an advanced, fluent, near-fluent level. Any tips on getting to the next level. Would be curious to hear your story on how you did it. And if you are at this level, congrats to you. Learning Spanish has been a real challenge.[/quote]

Leave your wife and kids and set up home with a local...in all honesty my totally fluent friends all have local partners. For me love won out so I will always speak like a Ukranian apparently (bad accent, broad vocabulary).....:)
 

starlucia

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Like anything else, practice makes perfect. You have to speak often enough so that it becomes automatic (like practicing a piano piece so much that you can play it without thinking.) And you need as much input as possible (even if it's just listening to your wife or kids converse with their local friends every day), which is how you'll develop your vocabulary and fine-tune your grammar/form.
 

DontMindMe

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Four months into my time in BA, I realized that I spoke more Spanish in the U.S. than I did living in Argentina. So I made a lot of changes.

I took a trip to Mendoza alone over the bicentennial holiday, took all the tours in Spanish and refused to speak English to anyone at the hostel. I moved out of the apartment I shared with English speakers and moved in with Argentines. Every now and then the odd German would move in and out, but I refused to speak English with them. I also quit my job speaking and thinking about English all day long as an English teacher and got one where I was required to speak, write and edit in both languages. Then, a while later, I started dating a native Spanish speaker with whom I (still) never speak English. Now none of these things were easy to do, quite the opposite in fact. But it got easier and I got better. A lot better. Fluent.

What is your job? Could you practice with your wife when your kids aren't around? Have any native Spanish speaking friends yet? There are many conversation exchange events like Spanglish around the city that people find very helpful. Chat with the newspaper guy, the flower guy, make little conversations with people like that who you maybe get directions from and stuff. Starlucia's right, it becomes automatic. And when you feel it becoming that way for you, it will be a thrill!

But most of all: STOP WORRYING ABOUT SOUNDING STUPID. This was my biggest hurdle. I thought people would think I was dumb or something for making grammatical mistakes, or not having jokes come out right, or having to pause. No one cares. Everyone appreciates the effort. You will get there. You have the foundation.
 

TrevorCito

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For me it was a lot of hard work but I'm now fluent after arriving in bs.as over 7 years ago with no more than the words si, no, empanada y cerveza.

Getting to the next level of fluency requires that you practice with people who speak at your desired level and who speak with a professional vocabulary so I suggest that you practice with people who speak professional Spanish, be it business people, academics, consultants or another demographic. Identify these groups and socialize with them.

Another idea is to seek temporary employment in professional circles.. Learn to read and write business documents so as to familiarize yourself with the business vocabulary.

You will stumble for a while but in a short time you will surprise yourself as to how far you have come.

Good luck.
 

NickF

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Thanks all for the solid advice. And Dontmindme: I admire your discipline. And you're right, I could be talking in Spanish with my wife more (or all the time?) when the kids aren't around. I'm definitely still facing the hurdle too sounding stupid. I've gotten better at overcoming that recently, but I"m going to need to leave that attitude behind.
 
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