Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Buenos Dias

I've taken it upon myself to try and learn Spanish. I don't expect to be fluent or even capable anytime in the next year or two, but having come back from Mexico I still have a desire to be able to speak it. Most holidays you go on, if you're like me, you'll pick up a few words and the basics like hello, goodbye, thanks, please, and a few numbers but never get much further. By the time you've got that it's time to come back home and you won't need them again unless you visit somewhere else that speaks the language (or make friends out there).

French I really don't get on with - teachers had a go at secondary school, I wasn't bothered and gave it up as soon as I could. I still remember some just 'cos it was a few years worth, but I'd be hopeless in France. German I've never even touched. I might know 1-3, 'no' (everyone knows that), and er... ok that's all that comes to mind. Italian I picked up a few words while on hols there a few years ago although it was a typical package holiday so we didn't try much. But Mexico was great, one of the best holidays I've ever had and (ok the lovely ladies make it even more tempting) I would really be interested to speak a little more. I picked up more there than I have done on any other holiday and I've heard it said that it's quite an easy language to learn. I'm quite a logical person - I studied Latin at GCSE and always thought that has come in handy on the odd occasion.

Book-and-audio-tape/CD courses seem like a good way for now. I can study whenever I want and do as much as I like each time. I've found a Spanish Sky Digital channel (TVEi, channel no.835 at the moment) which should be great just to have on in the background and try to pick out words / hear the pronounciation and accents. I did look up some courses and have one (quite cheap - £46 per 11 1.5hr lessons) very locally but I've missed the start of term and don't know whether I could still enrol. That's the most expensive but probably the best way to learn (apart from knowing someone Spanish willing to help). Jon knows a bit as he's got friends he writes to in (Latin American) Spanish sometimes but it's more written than spoken. Anyone who can speak/write it fancy chatting?


  1. Oh yes, and the fact that there (according to my sources) about 280 million speakers of Spanish in one form or another worldwide is a bloody good reason to learn it too! Way more useful than German! (no, I'm not planning on learning Chinese for the same reason!)

  2. Learning Language - from The Human Mind (Prof. Robert Winston - best known as presenter of BBC physiology/psychology docs).

    We are hard wired to learn language right from birth. Within 4 days of emergence from the womb, we can recognise and prefer our mother's language to any other noises. Within a year the language part of our brain ignores anything else but the phonemes that make up our mother's language. Which makes it harder to learn a language very different to ours anytime after that. So if you're a pair of multi/mixed-lingual parents that want their baby to understand either of the languages, speak to the child lots at a very early age in all languages (should you make an effort to distinguish between them?).

    So, pity I didn't try learning another language when I was much younger as I'd find it a lot easier now.

    It also explains that the brain section associated with language comprehension (Wernicke's area) is a separate and distinct area, and develops earlier than, the one (Broca's) related to producing speech. At 2 yrs old a child can understand instructions but can't yet respond with any cohesion.