Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Quiero Aprender Español

I regret that I did not take Spanish when I was in school. I never realized how practical it would be in the future; never dreamed of the influx of Spanish speakers in our country. In the mid '90s I had a half dozen Spanish speaking students in my classes. The beginning of the wave. I can still picture Eduardo. He tried to teach me Spanish, and a huge smile would light up his face as he put up with my lousy pronunciation. I regret that I didn't try harder!

I challenged myself to learn Spanish this year. One hundred days ago I began using the Duolingo program on my computer and handhelds. If you haven't heard of it... it's free and offers instruction in a few dozen languages, including Klingon! The activities are multi-faceted and lead you from matching words and their meaning, to writing sentences in Spanish, translating Spanish sentences into English, and filling in the blanks. There are rewards, like those you'd find on a computer game, but I don't really pay attention to them., You can also place bets on keeping your daily practice "streak" going.

I have taken numerous books out of the library, many claiming that I will learn the language easily if I use their book! I bought one book because I liked the workbook format, and I use that on occasion. That book is "Barron's E-Z Spanish". My car radio is tuned to a local Spanish music station. My son chided me that he never can figure out lyrics of songs in English, how the heck was I to learn Spanish from their songs?!

Duolingo reports that I have learned 462 words! Every day I run through a number of exercises. I like the way that the program leads you into more complex language patterns. I also like that there is a discussion area for each exercise. If you are curious about why the suggested answer is considered appropriate, the discussion will explain the more subtle nuances of the language. I am now listening to Duolingo podcasts for "intermediate" Spanish learners. I don't consider myself quite at that level, but the podcasts intersperse English with the Spanish so I can keep up with the true-life story.. oh, and they speak slower so my brain has a bit more time to process what I am hearing!  I celebrate each word and phrase that I understand! There are also stories on the "Lab" tab online. These remind me of reading exercises I used with students years ago. As with the podcasts, there are many words I don't know, but in context I can figure out the gist of the story. Oh and did I mention TinyCards? This is an additional application that has flashcards for the stories, flash cards for the exercises you complete online, and you can make your own flashcard sets.

I don't mean to sound like an ad for the program... but I'm loving it. I love that it makes language education accessible to anyone with connectivity, which is their mission.

Gracias, Duolingo. Estoy feliz de aprender español.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. I'm having a lot of fun, but oh, my brain just doesn't perform as it used to!

  2. You can do it! Don't give up!

    I took Spanish in high school and then in college. Glad I did. I was teaching in San Diego county, near enough to Mexico, in the 90s. Spanish was needed there.

    I remember Ramon and Salvador. they were so needy.

  3. Dear Dreaming, just yesterday I was thinking that learning Spanish would be good in these latter years of my life. so thank you so much for this posting. I hope I can do this with my iPad and computer. I'll look up "Duolingo" on Goggle and go from there. Peace.

    1. ... and did you check it out? I really enjoy the challenge.


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