Spanish as she is spoke

Spanish flag
Spanish flag

We’re off to visit daughter Emily in Barcelona soon.  And it’s about time we stopped being so dependant on her to be our mouth-piece when we’re there.  It’s about time we stopped expecting her boyfriend to make all the effort of speaking in a less-than-familiar language.  It’s about time we took a grip, and learned some Spanish.

Yes, I know.  In Barcelona, Catalan is the preferred language.  But if we want to travel more widely in Spain, given that everyone in Barcelona speaks Spanish too, Spanish it’s going to be.

I looked for Adult Education classes to help me.  There was nothing for beginners here in Ripon, and I didn’t fancy a 35 mile round trip to Northallerton or Harrogate for a weekly session.  The U3A here in Ripon has a class, but they’ve been going quite a while and are on book two of their chosen text-book.  In any case, there’s not a native speaker in their midst to correct idiom or accent.

So I’ve looked to the internet.  And being a tight-fisted sort, I’ve looked at what’s out there for free.  There’s quite a lot.  The advantage for me has been that the lessons these courses provide come in bite-sized packages, which encourages me to learn little and often.  The big disadvantage is that I don’t really get to speak: and if I do, there’s nobody to correct me.

There’s Duolingo, which takes me through families of words, using simple sentence structures, and testing my ability to understand and to remember.  I’m not likely to forget about that crab that drinks milk, or my brother (haven’t got a brother) who wears yellow trousers.

Then there’s Games for Language.  American David, who has a Spanish dad, is travelling round Spain.  Through ‘virtual’ card games and arcade-type games, I’ve learnt the Spanish I need to understand his travels.

FluentU is good.  From Lesson 1 it uses short video clips from Spanish TV commercials, children’s broadcasts and so forth to teach Spanish…. as she is spoke: that is – fast and furious.  I can tell you all you’ll ever need to know about Maradona eating at MacDonald’s.

And my latest discovery is Memrise: this offers you structured sentences and vocabulary, and makes you repeat them and repeat them till you jolly well get it right.  And then, a few days later, it’ll be checking to see if you’ve forgotten.

You must think I spend my whole life slogging away at Spanish.  I don’t.  It’s 10 minutes here and there.  But it IS every day.  I’ll let you know whether it’s paid dividends when I’m back from Barcelona.

Catalan flag
Catalan flag

24 thoughts on “Spanish as she is spoke”

  1. You might want to try to method we first used to learn Welsh, called ‘Say something in Welsh’…they are also developing Spanish lessons…all on the internet, initial lessons are free!

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  2. I hear you, Margaret, We have a family flat in Catalonia and my Spanish is still appalling, although I am (naturally) ok on food and my plumbing Spanish is coming on in leaps and bounds. Have a great trip.

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  3. My latest attempt is with a French book called Espagnol Débutant – 1 Leçon par Jour (90 jours). I’ve only been going a week, but I’m making more progress than with any of the other methods I’ve dabbled in – partly because it’s so much easier learning from French (the book constantly compares and contrasts) and partly because it actually teaches grammar instead of leaving me wondering which part of which verb that word is! But please nag me to continue when our busy season starts and I’m trying desperately to carve out 30 minutes every day!

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    1. I’m all in favour of learning grammar. I’ve just picked up quite a good seeming book (in a charity shop, natch), which I’m hoping will start plugging some of the gaps. Chapeau for learning from French, as it were.

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  4. Good luck! I love the Spanish language but here’s my shameful admission…I spent seven years learning Spanish and used to be able to read a Garcia Marquez novel in its native form BUT I’ve still never been to Spain! Ridiculous, I know… 🙂

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  5. Maybe a bit basic for you but have you tried “Coffee break Spanish”? I have the French version which I play when I iron and have used, to a lesser degree the Spanish – you just need to grit your teeth through the opening jingle!

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  6. ouuuuuuuu Margaret I admire your courage – always off to something new – super – since September I’m learning bridge……takes a lot from my resting brain! greetings to sunny Spain and flowering Ripon, anna

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  7. I wish you luck with the Spanish lessons and look forward to hearing about your trip. I spent a few home stays with families in Costa Rica in pursuit of the language. It was a great cultural experience, very humbling and I stopped practicing each time I returned home – big mistake. I too play around with Duolingo but there are lots of other great suggestions here too!

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