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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Learn some Spanish before you go!

We are around 10 weeks away from landing in El Salvador.  While the group has translation on most days, we will be living in a Spanish world, one where few people speak English.  

I love this - my language learning really takes off!  One of these years I will spend a few months somewhere in Latin America so i can finally immerse myself in the language.  For the time being three weeks is not too bad.

While I wait for that sunny day, I use a growing number of language tools to immerse myself a little in the language.  I have included four of these tools below - they are all terrific.  If you are planning on travelling to El salvador or anywhere else in the Spanish-speaking world you should consider using one or more of these tools.

You can learn lots in ten weeks, but you need to start soon.

Pimsleur was the first language tool I used and it is still great.  I am now on series IV, but you can start now on series I and learn lots.  I have downloaded the entire series to Dropbox and listen to lessons every morning on the way to work.  The lessons are terrific and it is easy to follow along and learn key phrases quickly.  The series is easy to pick up anywhere.  I would start with this.

I love Duolingo!  This makes learning Spanish a challenge and a game!  Once you get started you easily get hooked.  Like Pimsleur, you can learn very quickly key words and phrases that will really help in El Salvador.  Duolingo keeps track of your learning and even sends you notes of encouragement to keep up the pace.

For me Celas Maya is the ultimate in Spanish learning.  This is very different from the first two tools.  Celas maya is a great language school in Xela, Guatemala.  You have to travel there to take these lessons - but what a beautiful setting for learning Spanish.  If you want to extend your stay in latin America Celas maya is a terrific place to visit.  Plan to stay a few weeks, the longer you stay the more you learn!  You can get some of the Celas Maya experience right at home.  They offer lessons over Skype.  I have used this great service for the past two years - this is a great way to make your learning real - inexpensive too!

This is the latest tool I have discovered (thanks Wayne).  Each week, a new broadcast is produced following the news in Latin America.  As the title says, the news is read slow enough for a learner to understand.  Even better, each lesson comes with a transcript that you can follow as the lesson progresses.  You can even click on key phrases to get an immediate translation!  How cool is that!!  News in Slow Spanish is a subscription service so you can choose to have the transcripts or not.  I find this a great way to learn new phrases and keep up on the news in Latin America at the same time - you can't miss.

So, here is your challenge - pick up one of these tools for the next ten weeks.  It is really important to be able to at least say a few phrases in Spanish when you visit El Salvador.  No one expects you to be fluent, but it is a common courtesy to be able to at least speak a few phrases.

Happy learning!!

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