Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Para Hablar Español


Free Can Be Better!

After a few trips to Mexico relying on about thirty words left in memory from many years previous, it came to me in a flash to spend an occasional otherwise useless hour (mesmerized by the television) in learning how to speak Spanish. Or more to the point Castellano with a Mexicano flair. Dos cervezas, por favor can be extremely useful for enjoying a week at the beach but it can be somewhat limiting once even slightly removed from prime tourist areas. So off to the book store to purchase a beginners tome in Latin American Spanish acquisition in mere minutes a day. Problem with books starts with trying to pronounce words relying on weird references to words in English - say the a like the a in father while holding your tongue on the tip of your nose - difficult and unsanitary. And you quickly realize you're crucifying the language even to your own ears.  Next was a visit to the library to look over some of the CD courses, one of which  seemed to fill my needs. Actually listening to Spanish instructors gets all those vowels and consonants streaming out of your own mouth with a much greater degree of accuracy.  I think I may have mistakenly copied the CDs as they are still lingering on my MP3 player - quite handy! Then a short wait until some Spanish-English dictionaries went on sale and I began to study to my hearts content. On the next trip south, my endeavours paid off making it easier to converse with local bus drivers, store clerks and have a half-baked understanding of what I was attempting to read.  Then with Barcelona on the travel horizon, I thought listening to more Spanish would help because pleading with everyone to slow down so I can silently interpret leads to a really drawn out conversation.. Radio didn't help much with the ninety mile an hour speed demons blaring out the speakers and poor me still working on the second word. A quick jaunt through the net yielded either high cost pros or many broken down half completed sites or 3 page dissertations on the correct usage of por and para or even more esoteric grammar usages. By accident I ended up reading The Independent online  and a little reference to learning Spanish tiptoed by slowly enough for me to pounce on it with the mouse. A combination of audio and PDFs with the audio portion replayed at slower speeds with translation. Now I could get all those nuances and some everyday slang at a speed and clarity I could appreciate.  And I'm still wondering why the conspiracy to give away this resource for free; although I'm not complaining. Unbeknown to me until my arrival in Barcelona was the knowledge that Catalans much prefer to converse in catalán. But that's another story.

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