Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Learning Spanish

Learning a second (or a third, fourth, ... ) language should be a compulsory part of everyone's education. I don't mean that 'high school French' that a lot of us Canadians have, or the few words in Spanish or Italian we've picked up from friends.

What I mean, is speaking and being understood, and understanding a language that is not our mother tongue. In some ways, I feel a bit cheated. My father was from Switzerland, and was fluent in four languages when he emigrated to Canada (later, five). He put this to good use during WW2, when he worked with Army Intelligence. But he never attempted to teach us his languages, and I wish he had.

Later in life, two of my brothers married Spanish speaking girls - one from Spain and one from Columbia. At that time, I decided I'd like to learn Spanish, as a gesture to them. I registered with Continuing Education at our university, and took 2 sessions. Not many chances to use it, though, as we lived over 6 hours away from both of them. The desire to learn took a back seat to more pressing matters.

Now, 15 years later, I'm learning again. Spanish is one of the most commonly used languages in the world, and to truly experience Ecuador, my country of choice, I need to know it. I want to know it. And I will!

This time, I've downloaded a Spanish course and am having some success. I just load up my IPod, and as I go for my daily walk, I listen and talk to myself. I get some funny looks, but who cares.

Each visit to Ecuador, (and in 1 week, it will be my fourth visit), I can understand more and more conversation. I'm able to answer simple questions, and to generally make myself understood in a shop or restaurant. I can read most menus. I'm starting to get by.

However this visit, I'm attending a week long seminar (see my link to the right) called Super Learning Spanish. It incorporates the techniques developed by Georgi Lazanov, and used in Russia for many years. Plug Super Learning into Google to read up on it.

I'll keep you posted on how I make out.