Now I say that loosely because we don’t SPEAK Spanish.. YET. However there have been a few resources, apps etc that we have found helpful and I wanted to share them incase it would be any benefit or interest to you. What I’m going to post about doesn’t only relate to Spanish you could apply it to just about any language!
Firstly our main saviour (and I’ll tell you why) has been GOOGLE TRANSLATE APP, I don’t know why I’ve not used it before – of course I’ve used the web version before, I’m not THAT much of a technophobe! So the app, forgive me if I’m saying stuff you already know, has this cool feature where you can select the language you want to translate to and from, then hold you camera over and it begins immediately translating any text presented to it! You can also import a picture from your phone which in my opinion works much better as it’s not constantly jiggling words around and resetting itself. It’s so easy to use you literally take your phone out open the app and take a picture! I’ve even used it whilst standing in front of someone to quickly convey a message!
This has mainly helped us in supermarkets and restaurants. Have you ever been in a situation where the only menu presented to you is in a total foreign language and your only hope is to look for similar-ish words only to find when it comes out what you ordered is not at all what you were expecting?! I definitely have.. and sadly never in a good way! Still not all menus are in English and I don’t think we should expect them to be!
How has this helped us learn though? Well I guess like anything the more you look at and practice something the more it sticks and certain words more so than others! I totally sympathise with people that say it’s hard learning a new language and the words and sentences sometimes just don’t stick. It’s tough! The other day I had to ask somewhere if they sold birthday cards, a small sentence but I didn’t know any of the words I needed so it felt like a lot to learn. I translated it and kept repeating it to myself as I walked to the shop, over and over. When I got there I was actually amazed when they knew what I said! Now I anticipated they would respond in a way that I would not have a hope of understanding so I made sure to say before that my Spanish is not good. Two sentences I had to learn but I have retained the words because I said them SO many times!
An important thing to consider when learning a language is there are often variants of words and how we use them just as there are in English! I mean imagine explaining the word “right” for instance to someone learning English there are multiple meanings! (Turning right.. knowing you’re rights.. yes you’re right etc!) You can’t always be guaranteed a level of accuracy with an app and it doesn’t always mean people will fully understand because there’s so much else to factor in such as accents, dialects, tone etc. Still I think people have a respect for you trying! I think a lot of it comes down to confidence, I would’ve normally shied away from trying to speak in fear of getting it wrong. Yet when I think of the amount of times I’ve been approached by someone speaking broken English, I’ve understood and tried to help. I mean we do, don’t we?!
Next is Duolingo – another app! I have found this brilliant to use and I wouldn’t have gained the same fully engaged learning experience had I of been reading a book. It’s broken down into easy to manage parts and even assesses you to set it to the right level for you to progress from. There’s lots of pictures, words and my favourite bit is that you get to speak into it to test your pronunciation, which makes it a good all rounder! It’s also free! You can upgrade which removes the ads but you can quite easily use the standard version and progress through each stage as it is. Something to bear in mind if learning Spanish is that it teaches more Latino Spanish – which according to what I’ve read would be like speaking American in Scotland in some regions of Spain!! I’d be interested to know peoples thoughts and experiences with this! To be honest I worried about trying to speak Spanish here as research told us ‘everyone speaks Catalan near Barcelona’ and it doesn’t seem to be the case from our experience!
Another way to learn is by asking for the correct word/pronunciation from people when out, I mean in restaurants, shops etc! Occasionally spoken words sound totally different to how they’re written so it’s useful to know how the locals would say it!
Now a lot of people say to watch films and tv programs with the subtitles on to learn the lingo. In my personal experience I find that pretty tricky and don’t feel like I learn anything but I thought I’d mention incase it could be helpful for some!
Finally, if time and money allow I’d definitely recommend private tuition! That way it cuts out any guess work and allows you to gain that speaking experience and get in all the practice before going straight in with the locals! A tutor will be able to spot your strengths and weaknesses in a way that an app can’t.
I hope this is useful, if I think of anything else useful in the meantime I’ll definitely add it! For now though I’m slightly self conscious about my ability to even speak English well as I’ve had a few rum & cokes! Always listening if you have any tips for me to learn the language. Buenas tardes mis amigos!