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.