Sunday, August 10, 2008

Speaking Spanish 101 - Can I Learn Some?

Most people worry about whether they have enough Spanish-speaking skills to travel comfortably in Mexico. Like my new friend Beth, she started taking a class two hours a day in Saltillo. I think that is a wonderful idea. Spanish is a language that travels just like English. Did you know most Europeans speak Spanish? Wow, I didn't realize how much my Spanish came in handy until I started to travel in Central - South America and the Caribbean. It opened up a whole new world. I now had a whole continent in which to travel freely and without worry. Why even in Brazil many people speak Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese is very Spanish to begin with.
So what if you are going to be here in Mexico for the Winter? Most people come here for the sunshine, food, beaches and most of all the camaraderie of other rvers who like to test the traveling waters outside of the U.S. That leaves a lot of free time during the day to maybe take up a hobby, like Spanish classes. I'm not saying you need to dedicate your whole Winter trip to study, but just imagine how much your doors would open if you could bargain in the markets, make more personal selections in the supermarkets and maybe get those Mexican rv park owners and maintenance people to do a little extra??
Just about every language institute in Mexico also offers alternative language courses besides English. Look for a course that is a couple of weeks and at least 1.5 hours three times a week. This gives you time to practice in between your class days and return with those frustrations of communication that your teacher can help you with.
I developed a simple study guide for my English students several years ago. This study guide is simple but encourages the student to be involved in the target language throughout the whole day. I now have the study guide available for Spanish language learners. The key of language learning is to have it in your mind 24/7. If you already speak English or French as a native language, trust me, you will never forget it. Focus on Spanish; make your grocery list in Spanish, watching the local weather in Spanish, find some music you might like and find the lyrics on line and follow along. Also, use a dictionary, paper version or an on-line dictionary. This is the one I use, but there are many to choose from.

If you are interested in my study guide tip sheet, send me an email.

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