Speaking Spanish in Ecuador

This weekend while in a taxi and talking with the the driver he asks me if I was from Venezuela. So I started laughing, but it has me thinking with regard to speaking Spanish.

Some of us will develop accents whether we like it or not.   

My preference is to have a neutral accent, like newscasters and some politicians, but I'm told to achieve such will require some kind of accent neutralization training.

In Ecuador, depending on the company you keep, your accent might be a mix of several dialects and internally from within Ecuador or from other South American countries.

People will probably assume you lived in the areas of those dialects. Has anyone put any thought into it this?

Yes, you can't help but pick up speech patterns, words and phrases, and pronunciation depending on the area in which you live, even with a conscious effort to remain "pure" or neutral.

I've lived and spoken Spanish in Ecuador, Puerto Rico and Colombia, with trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and they have all influenced me to some degree.  But the most influence is of course from my Colombian wife!  In Colombia she can often identify speakers down to the city in many cases, based on how they speak - and pretty much can tell from what country other Spanish speakers are.  I can barely tell a Cuban from a Dominican Republic from a Puerto Rican, I just know they sound different, and would not mistake them for Colombians or Ecuadorians or Mexicans.  Argentinians I can mostly always recognize, they always sound to me like they're slurring their words as if they were a bit drunk.  Colombian Spanish and Mexican Spanish sound the clearest to me, when the speaker is not slurring their words and using a lot of colloquialisms.  It's been so long that I've heard Ecuadorian Spanish I don't think I could recognize a speaker by their accent, but most of the educated Ecuadorians always seemed to me to speak clearly with little variation from "perfect" Spanish, always pronouncing vowels clearly.

But then when you throw in all the regional variations and pronunciations, all bets are off.  That's part of the charm for me, discovering new words and accents, although as I say I mostly try to keep my accent "pure" Castellano, the Latin American version more or less...

Here is a Spain Spanish speaker, note how fast he talks and the "lisp":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_44klnkVVQc

Here are accents of Colombia:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwE1aP9WWS0

Here, Ecuadorian accents:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cs4TiAp3FM

Here, some quiteños speaking:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51UZYeVgGI

Cuban accent:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2D3PuXOjts

Argentine accent:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md2UQfcakA4

This song, "Que difícil es hablar el español" with subtitles in Spanish, is funny and interesting, contrasting some of the different words and meanings in different Spanish-speaking countries.  Note the difference in accent between the two singers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyGFz-zIjHE

A friend from abroad asks me what do you do all day to which I replied “I study Spanish.” Maybe that’s an exaggeration but that’s basically all I’ve done the past year.

Who can blame me because this is my city (Quito) in a nutshell - there are Ecuadorians everywhere, turn left there’s Venezuelans, turn right there’s Cubans and Colombians.  I can’t remember the last time I spoke English here. For expats desiring to learn Spanish this is a goldmine for potential conversation time.

Which brings me to this question – how do expats in Ecuador practice their Spanish? It’s a given with expats that have Spanish speaking spouses/partners but for the rest of us how do you practice your Spanish? Personally, I stopped paying tutors a while ago and tapped into the aforementioned goldmine.

I agree vsimple. Nothing helps expand vocabulary and increase comprehension better than talking with the locals. Having Ecuadorian acquaintances pushed me over the hump of "baby" Spanish to a more fluid level. (I don' t think I'll ever be fluent, but I don't usually completely embarrass myself.) I still have huge holes in my vocabulary and struggle with subjunctive versus conditional etc, but it's coming along.

We're (my husband and I) are also asked "what we do all day" and he usually answers "whatever he wants" and I say "as little as possible". To be honest, I can't figure out how we got everything done when we were working full time.

Back to the main point of this stream. Being able to communicate (meaningfully) in Spanish has made life soooooo much easier here and I also have a sense of accomplishment.

The “sense of accomplishment”, that PEI Red stated, I can relate to and is indeed a great feeling. For me, It may seem that I sometimes pat myself on the back in this thread when accomplishments have been made but overall I am never satisfied and this drives me. 

One main reason is listening comprehension at this point.

My mind does not pick up prolonged dialogue on TV for instance. Let’s take “House of Cards”, which I listen to in Spanish and without any subtitles. I can understand completely slower and shorter dialogue. But when the dialogue is continuous and prolonged by one person, I can’t keep up.

It’s not like this in real life because a rapport is built with the person you’re talking with and the words are clear. But this is definitely something that I am working on this year. Some of the challenges include vocabulary, and some I suspect are poor TV speakers too, so I’m ordering a soundbar which should help make the dialogue clearer or "crystal clear" as advertised.

But yeah that’s one of my goals to keep sustained pace a tv show/movie dialogue within 2 years. I think it's a realistic expectation considering the progress made over the past year. For anyone curious the progress basically went like this, ooohh I understood that one word, then later yeahhhhh boy - I understood  2 words together. Then it was short phrases, and now back and forth small dialogue. And words that i clearly don’t understand and are of importance, I sometimes pause and translate, for instance “fuente” (source), which I learned on House of Cards.   

Ok some tips for beginners:

Last year for me was the year of verb conjugation, and as I stated previously on this thread reading is an immense help. Another way to learn conjugation is to summarize your day or whatever else in writing using your target verb tense. So just write about something in the past tense for instance. I still do this at night and underline each verb and the following morning I would check. This helps in conjugation and vocabulary if you are aiming to learn new verbs.

As for listening 30% of TV I watch and music I listen to must be in Spanish now. I hope to increase this to 50% as I make more progress. It helps to watch shows movies/show that you've seen already so you don't have to worry too much about understanding it completely. Just focus on words first then longer dialogue.

Grammar wise, my latest book is all in Spanish. It just makes more sense to me to learn this way at this point as they don't over-teach with a whole lot of english words explaining things. This is something that simply makes sense to me as I am more advanced now. So absolute beginners should start off with an english text book.

In my previous post I mentioned that I am listening to House of Cards in Spanish and without subtitles. I continue to listen to it to improve my listening skills but have expanded to other programs such as Mar de plástico which is a tv show from Spain, and quite challenging because they speak fast. I also listen to TeleAmazonas, and Ecuador TV, especially programs that are about Quito. Those news programs are easier to follow than TV shows.

As for my vocabulary I continue to read, but also added a new resource which is helpful. It's a paid service and basically they read news in Spanish and you select slow/fast pace. A transcript is also available for each article, as well as grammar exercises. I like it because there's an App for it and with bluetooth I can access my soundbar and listen to it on that as I'm doing stuff around my apartment. Sometimes I listen to it with headphones as I'm walking outside. 

Ideally 2-3 hours a day of listening practice would be most beneficial but after an hour or so sometimes I zone out especially when it's something boring. But I try to make it a habit by listening to at least 30-40 minutes of Spanish in morning when I wake up, and then adding more minutes throughout the day.

For anyone working on their listening comprehension, and not working on their vocabulary then I don't know what to say. You have to do it! Don't worry about retaining all the vocabulary, be happy with the words and phrases that you do retain, and they accumulate.

Another thing that I started working on is practicing to speak more eloquently by practicing at home. When I'm conversing with people the words just come out and I really don't focus as much. Anyway I go about this by listening to a conversation on CD, and then listening to questions that I answer. So I record myself and track my progress, and to see how well I did, I would use a translator and compare and improve. The book and CD that I'm using for this purpose is español 2000.

For beginners, I have something nice for you – this is a free Spanish sitcom, one that is similar to Friends. It's fun, they speak slowly, and the vocabulary is basic. I believe there are 10 episodes.

Lastly, never give up guys. This is a beautiful language with hundreds of millions of people that speak it everyday so it's well worth learning.

You know who picks up Spanish the quickest? The poor. I am serious and certain of this, because they have to interact with society at least 8-12 hours a day when they are working. The rest of us, well, we are in our comfortable homes most of the time, doing whatever.

Earlier today I was conversing with some immigrants and their Spanish was good, real good, and they were only here 4 years. They definitely don't have a lot of the resources that we have, their only drawback in conversing was their education.

The Ecuadorian government permits the "poor" entry into Ecuador?  From what I've read, an immigrant has to invest (in an Ecuadorian bank) thousands of dollars to be allowed to enter the country on a permanent basis.

Also, concerning a quote, you've written, "I have. . . .added a new resource which is helpful. It's a paid service and basically they read news in Spanish and you select slow/fast pace. A transcript is also available for each article, as well as grammar exercises. . . ."  Would you please provide a link to access this resource?  It sounds great and I can benefit from using such a neat opportunity to increase my Spanish comprehension.

Thanks so much!

The resource you asked for is News In Slow Spanish . You can listen here:
https://www.newsinslowspanish.com/latino/mobile/

I have found watching Netflix series in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, or no subtitles, to be extremely beneficial for listening and learning through observation.

My favorite way to learn Spanish has been using  LingQ, a clever system that tracks your vocabulary as you listen to and read authentic material. You can even import your own texts.

Coxhere :

The Ecuadorian government permits the "poor" entry into Ecuador?  From what I've read, an immigrant has to invest (in an Ecuadorian bank) thousands of dollars to be allowed to enter the country on a permanent basis.

Also, concerning a quote, you've written, "I have. . . .added a new resource which is helpful. It's a paid service and basically they read news in Spanish and you select slow/fast pace. A transcript is also available for each article, as well as grammar exercises. . . ."  Would you please provide a link to access this resource?  It sounds great and I can benefit from using such a neat opportunity to increase my Spanish comprehension.

Thanks so much!

Sure, it News in Slow Spanish, use the link below for the Latin America version as they also have one for Spain. Try out their free trial to see if you like it. 

https://www.newsinslowspanish.com/latino/

Hello Lebowski888,
I tried the demo, liked it, and bought the bronze "level" for one year (the least expensive way to buy a "level").
Thanks so very much for your response!

In another thread it was mentioned that one of the reasons why some members chose not move to Ecuador was because of language difficulty. And understandably so as language and cultural difficulties are some of the reasons why some people decide against moving to a particular country.

IMO, I think the language, Spanish in the case of Ecuador, should be looked at as a positive rather than a negative. Learning this language is time well spent and greatly rewarding.

Alright, so last year I posted that my goal was to reach level C1 (DELE) by this month. The registration deadline has passed for next month’s exam, a date I was well of aware of. But I simply needed more time and maybe around 200-300 hours. It’s not an easy exam by any means, and passing level B2 is akin to passing the TOEFL in English as both meet language entry requirements for universities.

I am putting in the hours even if I am busier nowadays. I do this by mostly working on vocabulary, some of which is from DELE study book, and a lot more from novels that I read. Yeah, I don’t read English language novels anymore, nor do I watch any TV shows in English. And it’s just one TV show per night, just before going to bed, without subtitles, and with only 1 show per night I remain focused and don’t zone out.   

Do I understand everything, nope, but I have been making steady progress, and sometimes I would rewind to rehear a scene, my TV has a 10 second rewind function so it’s not that much of an inconvenience.

If one were to go take intensive DELE classes, 3 hours per day, starting from A1 to B2 it would take 720 instructional hours at an Ecuadorian university which would span about 3 semesters, and about 1400-2100 hours more of individual study or about 2-3 hours per each class hour. This is IMO a realistic guideline and a realistic timeline if one want’s to be able to speak Spanish competently or in the words of DELE:


Spanish Diploma Level B2 (Vantage)

Certifies students’ ability to interact with native speakers with a sufficient degree of fluency and spontaneity to enable easy and natural communication between interlocutors; produce clear and detailed texts about diverse topics, as well as defend an opinion about general topics, expressing the pros and cons for each argument; and lastly, understand the gist of complex texts about both concrete and abstract topics, including technical texts, provided they are within the candidate’s area of expertise
e.
 
A final word is never give up. Time goes by so quickly in Ecuador, and you will be surprised how much you learn from year to year.

Alright guys, I will share the best Spanish speaking tip, one that is backed by research. 

Drink a beer  :D , and then start conversing with someone in Spanish. According to researchers, a study was conducted in The Netherlands, in which a controlled group of non-native Dutch speaking participants were asked to drink a beer, and another group was asked to drink a glass of water.

These participants were then asked to converse with native Dutch speakers. The native speakers had no idea what the participants drank.

Afterwards the native speakers were asked to comment on how the non-native speakers spoke. The research definitively concluded that the non-native speakers who drank beer were deemed better speakers by the native speakers.

The science behind it is that alcohol represses our inhibitions, allowing us to speak more freely/fluidly.

And actually this is why younger people pick up languages quicker than older people. Younger people are not afraid to fail, whereas older people are inhibited because they try not to fail which ironically hinders learning.

Salud! Una cerveza para mi español!

Indeed, learning another language is a joy. It's a lengthy endeavor, but it has incredible rewards.

I have been listening to podcasts a lot this month. I listen to Radio Ambulante and Radialistas. Anybody have other suggestions?

On Netflix, I suggest the series "La balada de Hugo Sánchez" if you enjoy dark comedies. I loved it.

Also, I listen to a YouTube channel (in Spanish) before I sleep called Easy Zen.

For reading, I use LingQ and read El Universo (Guayaquil) almost every day.

lebowski888 :

I have been listening to podcasts a lot this month. I listen to Radio Ambulante and Radialistas. Anybody have other suggestions?

More power to ya' if your system is working.

Most Expats would make faster progress in learning words .. by watching English-language television programs with Spanish subtitles and pausing with DVR to look up unfamiliar words and phrases.

Do that for an hour a day and you'll make amazing progress after a while.

Of course, your audio method works better if good Spanish pronunciation is the goal.

What is LingQ and how do you use it?

cccmedia

cccmedia :

What is LingQ and how do you use it?

cccmedia

LingQ is a unique platform for language learning. It is nothing like rosetta stone or Duolingo.

The advantage is you can import your own texts and audio. The benefit is the LingQ system tracks the new vocabulary and phrases for you. You mark the known words as you read and listen. LingQ monitors your progress for you.

With LingQ you get tons of interesting, comprehensible input in order to acquire a second language naturally. The founder, Steve Kaufmann, is a Canadian polyglot who has learned over a dozen languages

lebowski888 :

Salud! Una cerveza para mi español!

Indeed, learning another language is a joy. It's a lengthy endeavor, but it has incredible rewards.

I have been listening to podcasts a lot this month. I listen to Radio Ambulante and Radialistas. Anybody have other suggestions?

On Netflix, I suggest the series "La balada de Hugo Sánchez" if you enjoy dark comedies. I loved it.

Also, I listen to a YouTube channel (in Spanish) before I sleep called Easy Zen.

For reading, I use LingQ and read El Universo (Guayaquil) almost every day.

I like El Universo a lot as it has more in-depth articles and complements my favorite newspaper, El Comercio.

Some of the columnists have a similar tone to my writing and speaking, for instance - dado la situación del país........, so when I came across that kind of writing, I was excited.

Bonil's caricatures are also cool too. For international news I like El País, which is a thousand times better than CNN Español, a website that I can't stand.

I don't have radio recommendations because I mainly use youtube for live news and documentaries. As for La balada de Hugo Sánchez, I'll check it out considering it's dark.

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