I’ve been making an effort to learn Spanish and Latin American Spanish with a CD course and a small pile of textbooks and dictionaries. I listen to it in my truck whenever I drive, when I can talk out loud unselfconsciously. I’m determined to be passable in Spanish before I go back to Cuba.
I would have never guessed I’d dive into it with such a hunger. I’ve always frowned and humphed anyone who’s suggested I’d probably enjoy languages, but (one of the best signs of total absorption) I get trapped in concentration so complete that I don’t notice the passage of time.
I’m not quite sure that the CD course system’s method is the best for me. There’s a lot of time spent banging on in English about speaking in Spanish, while it’s the periods of straight Spanish conversation that I feel I learn the most from – just riding the flow until words start to distinguish themselves and make sense. I rewind those parts a lot.
What helps next most is translating passages of English on paper. For one thing, it’s hugely encouraging, because with the extra time lapse of writing by hand, my Spanish is much better than when I try to translate in my head on the fly. When I write out sentences, it feels like it flows much better.
After a session of immersion into l’espanol, I start to think of simple things in the Spanish words, in my head (en las palabras Espanol, en mi cabeza). What I didn’t expect was the way that latent French pops unwittingly into my sentences at those times. Peut-etre, voy comer ensalada mas tardes aujourd-hui… Whoa, what? Peut-etre aujourd-hui? Where’d that come from? I actually can’t believe how much French seems to have got lodged in my brain during those awful days of high school. Remarkable. I think all the la’s and de’s and a’s and que’s and accents make it easier to slip into the wrong alternate language.
Next up: Icelandic!