Down the Docks

January 20, 2008


Filed under: Resolutions — ealing @ 12:50 am

The penultimate of my resolutions was to keep learning Spanish. It’s the fourth most commonly-spoken language on the planet, with around 500 million native and non-native speakers.

I’ve never had the discipline to learn a language by self-study, so I have a few rarely opened Spanish books on the shelves. Podcasts have been a bit of a boon (although I’m now suffering from the fact that iTunes doesn’t run under XP x64), as I’ll happily listen to them again and again while travelling. The big problem for me though is that the ability to listen and understand a language doesn’t translate into the ability to speak it. Looking at my one-year-old nephew responding with comprehension when spoken to, but unable to speak, I guess this is a common function of the way he learn languages.

Late last year I signed up for a course at 44 Portland Place, and I got quite a lot out of it. Being taught in a small group seems to allow me to learn faster, probably because it’s not so passive. Of course, the big benefit is that I get to practice speaking throughout each lesson.

44 Portland Place is very cheap compared to other language classes, so I’ve no objection to signing up for their classes as long as there’s an appropriate one. The real challenge for me, and the point of the resolution, is to make sure that I put more into it than just turning up to every class. Homework, including some writing and some rote learning, is invaluable. On top of that, I need to take time to read Spanish (plenty of which is now available online – no more going to the library or buying foreign newspapers) and speak it when the opportunity arises.


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