Sunday, January 19, 2014

The hardest thing I've tried lately

Writing prompt: "Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you."

My most recent and ongoing attempt to learn something hard is learning Spanish. My Dad seems to have been the first in his long Sanchez family branch to grow up knowing no Spanish, and I inherited his ignorance. In college my only language courses were French and Russian--Dad had suggested Spanish, but I had no intention of doing anything he wanted. What do parents know, anyway?

For eight years my wife and I have lived in New Mexico, where one might be hard-pressed to get a service job without being bilingual. The cashier at the local Wendy's will speak to us in English, then turn around and speak Spanish to her co-workers. Often I have overheard rapid-fire conversations that switch in mid-sentence from Spanish to English and back again, no problema. Our best friends speak Spanish, and we've traveled with them to Mexico.

So what am I doing, speaking English only? A year or so ago, I bought the Rosetta Stone Spanish CDs and joined a Spanish-speaking conversation group. It turned out that I wasn't ready for that, so I signed up for a class in basic grammar instead, supplementing my Rosetta Stone. No, learning Spanish isn't muy difícil, but it's plenty of work with plenty to remember. At age 69 I started late in life, so this learning project will occupy my brain cells for the rest of my days.

But I'm fine with that.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's easier to learn when you're young, because kids are sponges. I used to speak fluent Japanese, but I don't remember much of it now because I stopped using it when we moved back to the states.
Good luck, Bob!

Guilie Castillo said...

Bob, I feel for you. Since moving to Curaçao a decade ago I've been trying to learn Dutch (and, sometimes, Papiamentu, the local language) and--man, it's hard. I was, once, very good with languages. French came easy in high school, and English... well. But these new ones I just can't seem to grasp them. I do hope you turn out to be better than me at this :)