Though I grew up in California and am familiar with the Spanish language, I don’t speak it. I took French in high school, floundered around in languages in college, and am fluent in only English. And profanity.
JT has studied Spanish for all of his school years and can explain its value to to anyone who asks, but he’ll be explaining in English because he’s not very good at Spanish. Moreover, he does not enjoy studying it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wished more and more that I knew a second language. For one thing, teaching Roman history invariably means discussions of Latin and it doesn’t take much to begin to appreciate the origins of so many languages. And for another, lots of smart people I know speak another language, and I like to be smart.
So this past summer, I downloaded an app called Duolingo (all the world language teachers I know use it in class and our students enjoy it), and I began to study Spanish. I promised myself that I would complete two Spanish lessons per day. I practice in the morning with my first cup of coffee. Gradually I’ve begun to expand my command of Spanish and my notebook is littered with Spanish vocabulary lists that I review when I get the chance.
Duolingo teaches a practical Spanish, focusing on the building of vocabulary, with lessons that include translating words, phrases, and sentences. There is the opportunity to practice pronunciation of Spanish words. It allows me to move at my own pace, with feedback to help me build skills and practice what I already know. It’s fun and it builds in rewards.
Sometimes I practice my Spanish with JT. Invariably, he tells me that I am not funny or that my accent is terrible (both are likely true). But I persist. After all, Soy la mamá y hago lo que quiero.