Hola amigos! You saw that previous post where I was mulling about the languages that I know and how that has helped me to travel. This June, I’ve been inspired by Christine of Almost Fearless to have a bilingual summer and learn a new language! (Technically I’m already effectively billingual, should this be my trillingual summer instead?)
Right now I haven’t got the time to commit to regular classes, and while I do plan to do language classes on the road in future, I wanted to give myself a bit of a head start to really get myself in gear for my future South American travels (typical kiasu Singaporean side of me talking)… you guessed it! I decided that I would attempt to pick up some Spanish aka Espanol.
Sadly, though I’ve been to Spain twice, I hardly knew any Spanish then besides Hola and Cerveza and Calamari (essential words I assure you), but hopefully if I do go back again I will be better prepared.
I joined Duolingo – I’d heard of it previously from Munich friend S previously, as well as seen it pop up on other travellers websites. It’s a pretty fun language learning site with a gamification element to it, where you have points and goals and ‘compete’ with fellow friends in terms of progress – if you’re on it, do add me @jac_theocctrav!
You can download the iphone app (android one on its way) for some language learning on the go, or use the website – basically there’s are various levels and sections which are visualized in a tree of learning, which you slowly unlock as you progress.
There are many ways that they test you – it usually starts off with picture matching for new vocabulary, and slowly but surely they introduce new words, as well as new grammar. I like the varied ways that they test you so you get a well rounded introduction to the language, and that they allow you to peek at the words by hovering over them.
I have also realized that my strength when it comes to languages is my memory for vocabulary – I remember new words quite well so I can pick that up quickly. I also read well, and recognize words quite easily when I see them.
My weakness has always been shitty grammar, and Spanish has all these singular/plural/masculine/feminine forms of the same word which is soooo confusing! I can never get that right. Also, while I’m a visual learner, I tend to write very phonetically by what I hear, which is probably why I often spell things wrongly – when I was learning Chinese, my essays always sounded correct when you read them out but I always used the wrong word!
But still, perseverance… the fun part of course is seeing how all your friends are doing, and that motivates you to keep going…
Right now I’ve progressed to food words like la manzana (the apple) and phrases like yo como un emparedado (I eat a sandwich), and trying to get the accents right (it’s like Chinese all over again, but in a different hell), and while I’m still bottom of the pack, it’s been fun!