If you followed my recent luggage losing saga in Peru, you may remember I mentioned that we had to literally repurchase/replace every little thing for our hiking expedition. Even if you love shopping (which I don’t) this was not a fun experience. We were under a severe time constraint and we had to go out of the tourist area to get the specialized things we needed. We found ourselves in a local shopping mall, very North American-like except for the language. Hardly anyone spoke English making this frantic shop even more difficult.
I thought it was interesting how even though we were in their country, we were frustrated by the fact that people didn’t speak English. In retrospect the three of us, knowing for months that we were going to a Spanish speaking country, didn’t even bother to study a few words of their language. Interesting and slightly disturbing.
With the help of google translate, I was able to make our needs known and communicate albeit clumsily with the staff. It wasn’t long before Kara and Ruth were asking me to translate or ask the clerks something and the clerks were responding to me to tell Kara and Ruth things. It was at that moment, like a light switch, I made a decision.
I’ve always thought it was a beautiful language and I’ve always been envious of people with linguistic skills (other people have those skills, not me). It’s not like I thought ‘someday’ I’ll learn, I had already written it off, I’m too old to learn, too bad I didn’t learn as a child, wouldn’t it be nice to know…etc, old recordings droning on and on.
I made a decision that day in the shopping mall in Peru, I am going to learn Spanish. Maybe not perfectly, maybe not fluently but next year at this time I will have words in my back pocket that I can use to communicate better, I will show respect for the Spanish communities I visit by at least attempting to use their native tongue.
And so I am on a mission – how many different ways can I integrate Spanish into my life? I can watch a TV show and program Spanish subtitles. I can learn a Spanish song. I can take a course. I can start a Facebook group, I can enlist in the help of a Spanish friend, I can use Duolingo!
Duolingo, if you haven’t heard of it, is a second language learning platform – there is a free and a premium level. I am hooked. It’s a daily reminder to make it hard to ignore your commitment!
Every day, magically I have found time to do this. I am spending from 5-30 minutes and I am committed to making movement in this area. Besides being really good for your brain, studying a new language forces you to keep a learner’s mindset, a beginner’s mindset which is humbling (why won’t my tongue wrap around that word?!) add to that a healthy respect for those who are multi-lingual plus a certain pride in actually trying.
Today, I’m not suggesting you should start learning another language – though if you’d like to join me, that would be muy bien! In fact feel free to join me on my new Facebook page Tu Vida Ilimitada! I’m really hoping you will think about what you would like to learn or maybe have always wanted to learn and think about ways you can open up your life to let the learning in.
UPDATE - I'M ON DAY 826 IN A ROW! I have enough Spanish to impress an English-speaking person and enough to make a Spanish-speaking person laugh!