Thursday, October 18, 2018

Where Have I Been?

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am studying Spanish.  I am also learning to play the ukulele.  I have posted a song or two that I played and sang with the ukulele.  So today I am going to tell you about my Spanish studies.

In July, when I returned from my last trip to Mexico one of the kind ladies in my exercise class asked if I ever planned to go to Mexico again.  I told her, "Yes, I love it there and want to live there someday."  She said, "I have studied Spanish a lot but have lost my conversational skills from lack of practice.  Would you like to meet a couple of times a week and study with me?"  She told me that it would help her also.  I quickly agreed.  We meet twice a week in the hour before our exercise class. We are building vocabulary and forming sentences to describe random pictures that she has cut from magazines and laminated. This is surprisingly effective.
I also discovered an online program called Duolingo.  In my opinion, it is a great way to learn a language.  The amazing part is that it is FREE unless you choose to pay. This program uses several methods to prompt learning.  My favorite part is that you listen and type what is spoken AND you listen and repeat - and it marks your spoken word as either pass or fail.  There are many other variations that you do also.  The repetition and variations really help with the learning and retention.  I took a few elementary education classes in college. So I know that this is effective teaching. 

Rewards are also a great motivator to learning.  Here are a couple of screen shots that show my progress.
I have reached Crown Level 55 - which amazes me. I have no idea how high the crown levels go but 55 sounds good to me.
I have also reached Level 11 in the Spanish course with 3747 experience points.  Both classes and "extracurricular activities" count for experience points. There are stories you can listen to in Spanish that have some interactive learning in them.  There is also a Flash Card app called TinyCards -it plays right on my computer.  Each of those earn experience points. Plus, the support the learning platform.

What about real life application?  I had a great experience Monday.  Another lady in my exercise class is working with the local Christmas ClearingHouse.  She said that I could come and help translate. I reminded her that my skills are not great. She said, "You know more Spanish than most of the people that will be working with us." So I went.
I was surprised and happy to find that I was able to help a lot more than I expected.  I was able to ask pertinent questions of the Spanish speaking clients and relay the proper answers.  I discovered that knowing numbers helped a lot.  I also used a word that I learned in our live Spanish class. When asked what toy a particular child would want, one lady said "Ella gustan un oso."  My face probably looked strange at that point. She said "She likes a bear."  I did the classic mime of a bear with a questioning look on my face.  She grinned.  I pulled out my phone and using the Google Translate app (which I highly recommend) looked up "teddy bear."  I said "Oso de peluche?"  She smiled and said "Sí"   I told the interviewer and she wrote it down.  Honestly, when I learned "bear" my thought was "I will never use this word."  Ha! Now I know not to discredit the process of learning words that seem useless to me.

So, even though I am not posting frequently, I am being active and learning new skills. If you happen to be taking a Duolingo class - or decide to try it after reading about my experiences with it - please add me as a friend.  My Duolingo name is GeneBlackAL (just like it shows in those screenshots.)  For the record, they have classes for many other languages also.  The classes range from Chinese, Japanese to Russian, Ukranian and to Navajo and even Klingon!  Plus, learning a language really keeps your brain active which is said to stave off some of the effects of aging.

Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. However at this time Blogger is not notifying me of comments. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.


Jeanna said...

Good for you, Gene. It is so fortunate you have found someone to practice with. I have to say I laughed out loud at your Bear story and then really loud when I read Klingon! Keep up the good work.

A Left-Handed Quilter said...

I'm with Jeanna - I think it's great that you have someone to practice with - and I laughed the "Klingon", too - but I really laughed at the "I will never use this word." That reminded me of Kathleen Turner's line in "Peggy Sue Got Married" when Peggy Sue blows off her algebra test, explaining "I happen to know that in the future, I will not have the slightest use for algebra - and I speak from experience." It's funny the things we think we will never use - like "oso" and MATH - ;))

Jennifer said...

Well now aint you something:) Enjoy the process.

Debbie said...

Amazing you are.....a big step to increase skills for a life journey.
Your adventure is fun to read and enjoy. I love the challenge you have taken and sssto see your progress put to use is even better. Keep on.

lorrwill said...

What a great adventure you are on Gene! Now you have me wanting to learn Spanish. I work with a lovely Mexican lady who would probably appreciate being able to converse in her native language and since we are pals, would help me with my polish my skills. Thanks for the tips.

Elizabeth NJ said...

First-time commenter... Hi, I've enjoyed your blog for a while and recently started brushing up my high school Spanish on Duolingo. I'm taking you up on your kind invitation to add you as a friend. My Duolingo name is Isabella461485. (Lots of Isabellas, I guess.) Thanks!