One of the exciting things I decided to do this year to help me prepare for my trip overseas to France and Spain in 2014 was to learn two new languages – Spanish and French.
After our trip to Hong Kong to visit one of our daughters who is currently living there and dancing at Hong Disneyland, I realised the value of taking some time to learn the language of the country I intend visiting for a number of reasons. Whilst you can survive without the necessity to learn the native language, the locals love and respect you for at least having a go at attempting to communicate with them using the language of their country.
We saw for ourselves the positive difference it made, watching our daughter, who at the time had not been living in Hong Kong but a few short months, communicate in basic Cantonese with taxi drivers, shop keepers and sellers at the markets to name but a few instances. The change of expression on the locals’ faces was impressive. Their expressions changed from the usual glazed over-not that interested look of having to deal with another foreigner to one of delight when familiar words and phrases were uttered. Some actually did a double take to look at our daughter more closely. And the smiles…for here was a beautiful young blonde-headed foreigner who had taken the trouble to try to communicate on their terms. Colleagues of our daughter fromDisney had kindly offered to teach her Cantonese when dressing her for her performances. So, whilst she had no formal lessons, she was still able to learn enough to make her life in Hong Kong a whole lot more easier and it no doubt helped her to assimilate in her new cultural experience.
Next year when I travel to Europe and visit France (briefly) and Spain (for a significant number of weeks), I want to try to speak conversationally with other pilgrims and locals, as well as anyone else I happen across. I’ve never felt the need to learn another language before this, but once I made the decision, it changed my perspective on things. I initially felt daunted and overwhelmed with the thought of learning not one, but two languages at my age, but after having had six weeks of lessons (so far) I am excited and it’s fun. I am also meeting many other like-minded people who are intending to travel and I listen with interest to the many others who have stories to share of the travels they have already undertaken.
I’m so glad that I decided to give it a go. I have three weeks left of a nine week course – Level 1 and I have enough basic understanding of things to practice with while I wait till later on in the year to tackle Level 2. My plan then will include a refresher course before heading off to Spain next year. During the time from now until I leave I will try to find other Spanish speakers to practice with. Other good tips are to watch Spanish movies and listen to what is being said while watching subtitles, listening to music, language CDs and Spanish news, etc. Recently I watched a Spanish cooking show and recognised my first word, other than the basic greetings. The word was poquito meaning little and has since become my favourite word so far.
For homework after Lesson 5, we were asked to write a short presentation using espanol about ourselves. Here is what I wrote:
Mi hombre es Debbie. Soy australians. Yo vivo en Chandler, Brisbane.
Estoy aprendiendo espanol porgue tengo la intencion de caminar en solitaire como peregrino en 2014 a lo largo de la ruta del camino Frances de St Jean Pied de Port hasta Finisterre, los extremes de la tierra.
Disfruto de las class de espanol y aprendo todo lo que puedo sobre el pais de Espana, su cultura, su gente y sobre todo la comida.
Estoy muy emocionada y espero el ago que viene
I have posted a link to Youtube to show a couple having a conversation in Spanish. He is mucho better and further along than I am…but watching this I can definitely pick out words and phrases that I have learnt.
Click on the link and see how much you know…
A friend of mine who speaks fluent French is helping me with some conversational French and I am meant to be trying to learn French at the same time as I learn Spanish, which sounds all well and good, however, it is proving to be a little challenging time wise. Learning Spanish is not fast for me and I have to stop and look up words and phrases most of the time. As time progresses, my speed and comprehension will develop. One thing I can’t afford to do and that’s beat myself up about it. I need to work at my own pace and the rest will follow.
So until next time, amigos…