Whether you’ve just made the move to Mallorca, or are a seasoned expat with many years of living in Spain under your belt, I’m sure that your first ever priority, upon arrival, was to ‘learn the lingo’. Mine sure…was. When I first got to the island I started out at full speed and, with ‘mucho gusto’, sunk my teeth into the ‘Me llamo’s’ and ‘Hola, Que tal’s’ of the first few language lessons. I bought all the books and even organised for my teacher Miguel to be put on the crew list as a chef, just so he could troop down to STP twice a week to teach me some Spanish. However, a few months later, español took a dip behind those new, cool yoga classes I found in town and, a little later, became something I only practiced if there was any time left at the end of the week. Which, sorpresa sorpresa, there usually wasn’t. And still isn’t. So now, after having been a guiri for two whole years I can at the most label my skills as being basic. So, what happened? Or, to be more precise… que pasó??
It’s not that I don’t find it important, because I definitely do. I have oodles of reasons why I want to be able to speak Spanish.
Firstly, it’s a matter of respect. I’ve chosen to make Mallorca my home: I soak up their sun, slurp their Rioja, munch their patatas bravas and loll around their beaches. The least I can do is learn to ‘hablar espagnol’ while I enjoy these things, right?
Secondly, it makes life a helluva lot easier. Ordering a cafe con leche is one thing but getting vodafone to sort out your wonky internet connection is quite another, is it not? A man came unannounced to my house the other day in overalls and armed with a clipboard. I let him in and it took me a full 5 minutes to find out why exactly this guy was sniffing around my kitchen. Turned out he was there for the gas digits. I cook on electric. So only twenty minutes later we both knew we were completely wasting each other’s time. Hmmm, it made me think…
Last but certainly not least, being able to converse makes every experience so much more meaningful. Shooting the breeze at the bus stop or having a giggle while standing in line at the supermercado; it’s little impromptu jokes and chats shared that make day-to-day life so much more fun. And equally as funny are the many mistakes. Just yesterday at the dog park I used the phrase “un ano y un pico”. I’d heard that being said somewhere, or in any case, something like it. The guy I was talking to belted out a big laugh and asked me what I thought I’d just said. Err…a little over a year? Apparently my concocted sentence literally meant a year and a shot of heroin. Quite an odd thing to say about the age of your dog…
But, unfortunately, as abundant as my incentives, so are my excuses: “This week I’m too busy with work”, “I’ll start next month, I’ve already spent all my money on a remote controlled boat”, “Today I have a cold and I’m sneezing too much to be able to speak Spanish’.
One week rolls into another until suddenly you’re a year further and you can still only converse in the present tense (hands flapping forward means the future, hands flapping backwards means the past, well, what else?)
This is the thing though: learning a language is hard work. A couple of lessons won’t do the trick nor even doing your homework as we’re talking daily dedication to get to that unimaginable level of being able to use the preterite and the imperfect tenses, perfectly.
And while there’s plenty of apps and sites to help you on your way at home, nothing beats having an actual teacher, with fixed times, dates, a healthy dose of pressure and you promising you’ll really do your homework.
Palma based language school Glossolalia boasts scientifically proven, modern learning techniques like Superlearning and Suggestopedia. It sounds pretty snazzy and it also actually really works.
We’ve teamed up with this school and will be running a little quiz monthly from the start of May. A sort of win win situation really, as we’ll be able to learn bits and pieces and be in to win a bottle of vino tinto on top. Perhaps, that’s just the kind of incentive I was looking for…
At Glossalia they make learning fun, and wouldn’t it be cool to finally have full on conversations in Spanish rather than just being able to order a glass of wine? 😉