22 September 2007

"Telenovelas" or TV Soap Operas in Spanish

Our Spanish instructor reminded me of a technique for expanding one's vocabulary by watching soap operas on television in Spanish. I had forgotten what a great tool this can be. I relied on Costa Rican television when I first moved there to get used to listening to Spanish. The overly dramatic soap operas or telenovelas (think, television novels) give you the ability to associate tone, voice inflection and the gestures on screen to the words you are hearing.

As a result of her suggestion, we started to "Tivo" all the episodes of "Salomé". John has really been enjoying the commercials because they frequently have written words that he can associate with the sound. The story of "Salomé" is overly complicated, so I do step in and translate a word or two when it looks like he has trouble grasping the gist of the conversation.

The amazing thing about this technique is that you don't even realize how much you're learning, because your brain is just soaking it up the same way we learned to speak English when we were two years old. Eventually the day comes when you can actually start saying some of the words and phrases you've heard in a conversation with someone. John is doubtful that this will actually happen for him, but I know that it will, just like it did for me so many years ago.

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