Learning Spanish

Posted: May 3, 2010    Categories: Spain

Houses in Valencia

Houses in Valencia

My time in Valencia (both the province and the city) have been wonderful. I’ve been kept in constant movement since I’ve arrived either getting tours, giving speeches, or in lengthy Spanish dinners and lunches. That, plus some extremely poor internet connectivity over the weekend, means I haven’t had much time to write or process my photos. I have uploaded some photos which you can see by clicking on the image to the right.

It will be a few days before some of my longer posts with images make it to the site, but I would like to rattle off a quick update regarding something I’ve been working on since I’ve arrived in Spain: learning Spanish.

Spain is the first Spanish speaking country I’ve spent significant time in since I’ve started traveling. Spanish is also the language I’ve identified as the most practical for me to learn given the size of Latin America and the proximity of it to English (as compared to learning Chinese).

While I am nowhere near passable, my vocabulary has increased considerably since I’ve arrived. I can read a fair number of signs when I walk down the street and I’m picking up new words every day. The guides I’ve been with are probably sick of me asking what so-and-so is in Spanish, but it has been productive.

While I can comprehend more Spanish, my recall still isn’t very good. That means if I see something I might understand it, but it doesn’t mean I will think of what to say if I need it when talking. Signs are also a poor way to learn verbs, pronouns, adjectives, prepositions, or interrogatives. I consider my progress in one week to be OK considering I’ve never taken a Spanish class in my life.

I’m also learning to pronounce certain sounds which are totally different in English. (Paella for example: pie-aye-ah)

My goal when I leave Spain is to be able to order something in a store or restaurant, or ask directions, in complete sentences. I’m setting my goal as something reasonable. My hope is to get better so I can travel more independently in Spanish speaking countries.

One problem I’ve encountered is that almost everyone in the tourism industry speaks English, so there aren’t as many chances to practice Spanish.

I’ve been traveling with Lillie the last week, which has been nice as she is fluent in Spanish. I have been able to use her as a walking Spanish/English dictionary.

This is actually the first time I’ve attempted to go beyond a few simple words or phrases in a country. I’m usually not in a place for more than a few weeks and, especially in Asia, it is hard to go beyond that as well as learn a whole new alphabet or writing system.

If anyone has suggestions or resources for learning Spanish, I’m open to suggestions.

Tomorrow I’m off to Madrid and hopefully I’ll get some time this week to provide you with some more in depth thoughts on Valencia.

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