IMHO, the best way to learn a language quickly is to immerse yourself in it...with people who actually speak it. I have nothing against the rosetta stones and other things like that but I learned first hand that no matter how much you learn in a school classroom or on your computer, the people who fluently speak the language have a different syntax and they will often run words together or chop them off into slang. I speak relatively fluent Spanish...in the classroom. Then I started working around people who spoke Spanish as a first language and I was completely lost. I basically had to re-learn everything because I could only pick out about every 5th word due to the speed of their speech and the difference in everyday vocabulary.
Smrobs- that is what I am trying to do.. I have a few friends from spain who are trying to help me but they just laugh at/with me bc I mess up forming the sentence.. lol
Its a work in progress... very slowly...
Heck, I had four years of spanish in high school and a semester in college, plus I went to Rocky Point almost every summer with my aunt and uncle who have a house down there...and none of that prepared me for being married into a Mexican family. My ex-husband is from Hermosillo, MX, and his parents don't speak much English, so I had to work on my spanish. Watching telenovelas is a GREAT way to learn and begin understanding spanish. My ex-in-laws were wonderful about not laughing when I'd butcher a sentence in spanish...because at least I was trying.
The problem I have is that I am so not confident about my verb conjugations (one word for those...EVIL!) that I try not to speak spanish if I can help it. I can understand spanish great, even when they're speaking rapidly (it's really disconcerting to spanish-speakers when you laugh at the joke they just told or something they just said lol). And when I *DO* pluck up the courage to speak, I usually do pretty well and my accent is great. But, I think I suck, so I don't usually speak.
Darftyairesmum - you are by far more courageous than me. I won't speak it to anyone but my two friends from spain. And I agree about conjugations = very evil. I mess them up the most.
I will have to start throwing myself into I guess.. grrr
A tip from a person who is a non-native English speaker...
Like already said, immerse yourself into it. Make the language meaningful to yourself. I really sucked in English before I started on the Horse Forum and found an interesting reason to use the language. I had the basic information about grammar and some vocabulary since I had studied the language 9 year at school but kind of neglected my studies at early stage and dropped from the wagon pretty quickly after that. When I started here I had my school English books with me so I could check what I actually wrote. Now I haven't needed them for years and volunteer as a moderator here.
Anyways, find a pen pal, forum or something like that where you can practice your Spanish skills. If you've still your books, start with them. As to spoken skills, I haven't personally practiced that part a lot but maybe following tv-series, listening some Spanish radio channel or something like that would help? When you gain confidence enough, may you could write/talk also other people but these 2 friends.
Spanish is a fascinating language. I've studied a course but would be interested in studying even more.