You know how some people write out their 5 year and 10 year plans? When I sat down to pen all the things I wanted to accomplish in my 20’s, I included a list of several languages, including Spanish. I didn’t learn any of them. But that is not the point. The point is that languages are intriguing to me – I like listening to the rise and fall of them, hearing the unique phonemes, and untangling the cultural elements that exist within them.

Last summer, I learned of an app called duoLingo after overhearing a blogger say she was using it to learn German. Suddenly, I had the ability to learn several languages right at my fingertips! I chose Italian kind of on a whim. It has a beautiful feel on the tongue, is lovely to listen to and I tend to lean toward the Romance languages after studying French through high school. Throughout the summer, I plugged into the app for 10-15 minutes a day…then that time eventually diminished to once a week when school was underway and life felt like it started up again. At this point I am about 10% fluent in Italian which means I can name some animals, some foods and tell you I am a beautiful woman (plus a little more) but let’s just say it’s not enough to get me by with Nonna.

I’ve left it alone for awhile, not really feeling motivated to keep learning a language that I don’t see myself using, and thus maintaining, in the near future. It was during a Zumba class last month while I was swaying my hips to a sultry Enrique Iglesias song and dreaming about dancing on the beaches in Mexico that I realized I should really be focusing on Spanish. After all, I am planning to go to Mexico with the family this winter, and I am more likely to use Spanish on my travels anywhere as Spanish is the second or third most spoken language in the world (depending on the source). And to be honest, I am not sure what the social climate is like in Italy at this point. As a brown-skinned traveller, this is something I unfortunately have to take into consideration when planning vacations. Does anyone have feedback on this? I’d love to hear!

My goal is to learn enough Spanish by December that I can have some form of a (probably slow) conversation with at least one local wherever we end up going in Mexico. And here’s how I’m going to do it!

  1. duoLingo will be my go-to app again. It now has the option to practice a conversation with bots after you reach a certain level. And there are also clubs you can form and join in which you speak only Spanish (I assume. I don’t know. Not in a club yet). I’m committing to 10 minutes a day Monday to Friday. And 20 minutes a day on the weekend.
  2. Since Enrique Iglesias is HIGHLY motivating for me, I’ve started listening to his music in the mornings to start my day. This is when I usually tidy up the kitchen after the hurricane (aka children) passes through. After listening, I pull up the lyrics in Spanish and English (what did we do before Google?) and pick out the individual words and match them up. I’m going to continue doing this with his songs and other Spanish-speaking artists you may recommend to me in the comments!
  3. Practicing with my sister-in-law, Zahida who happens to be fluent in Spanish. This is super helpful for me! I love to learn by speaking with other human beings. This way I can pause or stop or question something to death. And I can string together actually useful sentences in real-life context.

It would be awesome to be part of a meet-up at some point with a group of people for the sole purpose of practicing Spanish. But I know 1-3 above are do-able. I’ll keep you posted! If nothing else, learning this new language will give me the opportunity to stretch my brain and invest my time in something I think is fun.

I mean…watching this every day is hard work but I can imagine it’s a blast, right? 😉

Wish me luck!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative