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Spanish Cactus – Learn Spanish ASAP

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Latinxs Don’t Need to Speak Spanish | The Nation

Nahuatl Indigenous women offer corn, flowers, and light candles to the sun during celebrations of the winter solstice in San Andres, El Salvador, in 2006. (Luis Romero / AP Photo)

Like many Latinxs raised in the United States, I’ve taken shit for not speaking perfect Spanish. Mexicans even have a word for someone like me—someone born to a Mexican family north of the border, who speaks Spanish with an accent. Pocho. In its simplest sense, pocho (literally meaning “faded”) describes an Americanized Mexican. It’s not a compliment, but like any Mexican slur, it gets equal use as an insult and as a term of endearment. Growing up, I even found comfort in the word. In California, I rarely had to explain myself to other Mexican Americans at school. Instead, it was always white kids who took it upon themselves to police my race and ethnicity. “You’re not really Mexican,” they would say when I spoke stilted Spanish.

In Latinx spaces, especially online, there’s a growing consensus arguing that knowledge of the Spanish language isn’t a prerequisite for Latinx identity. It’s sometimes spilled into the wider public. Last fall, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke candidly about her nerves speaking Spanish in front of an audience. (After the congresswoman’s recent conversation with the Puerto Rican rapper Residente, one Latina journalist commented on Twitter, “Her pocha Spanish is so relatable to me.”) And in the most recent Democratic primary, after TV pundits repeatedly questioned Julián Castro’s identity because he didn’t speak Spanish, the former San Antonio mayor lamented that the media treated it as “the only variable as to whether somebody is Latino or not, which is completely out of line with reality.” The ability to speak Spanish, he told The Washington Post, “is just one part of the overall connection to the Latino community.”

This discourse has resonated with many Americanized Latinxs. But missing from this discourse about Latinx identity is the reality of people who never spoke Spanish to begin with. After all, Spanish—like English—is a colonizing tongue. Today, across Latin America, millions instead primarily speak Indigenous languages. For these people, the consequences of not speaking traditional Spanish fluently can be serious and dangerous. And as climate change, political violence, and migration patterns have uprooted these communities from their homes, many of these same people now face similarly oppressive environments within Latinx communities in the United States.

Hilaria Cruz, like me, was singled out by other students in grade school for not speaking Spanish. Cruz, however, was born and raised in Mexico. She grew up in the country’s mountainous southwestern region, living in a community of Chatino people, an Indigenous group that has inhabited the peaks and canyons of Oaxaca for thousands of years. As a child, she spoke a rare form of the Chatino language with her family; it wasn’t until she was 8 that she heard Spanish for the first time. Her parents wanted her to get a formal education, and since Mexico offered no schools in Native languages at the time, her family walked five hours into the nearest mestizo town (“mestizo,” in a simplified sense, means a mix of native and Spanish culture). At her school, the children would form mobs and chase the few Chatino students, shouting racial slurs at them: “Indi*s! Indi*s!

Cruz, now an assistant professor in the department of Comparative Humanities at the University of Louisville, has studied how the Spanish imposed their language on Native people in Mexico. She says that soldiers, missionaries, and interpreters traveled North America throughout the 16th and 17th centuries creating maps. When the Spanish reached the mountains in modern day Oaxaca, they asked the people living there for their name and language. They responded that they were called the qne-a tnya-e, and their language was Chaq-f tnya-b. The Spanish heard “Chatino.” They christened a town in one of the canyons and called it San Juan Quiahije, the same town that Cruz walked five hours from so she could attend school. Five hundred years later, the town still resembles a colonial frontier in many ways: Native people face blatant discrimination, and the language barrier prevents their access to many social services. For Cruz, the most fundamental institutions of the state—the schools, the courts, the hospitals—all existed in Spanish.

Cruz is not alone. In Mexico, millions of citizens speak Nahuatl, Mixteco, Zapoteco, and over 280 other native languages (including over 40,000 Chatino speakers). In Paraguay, Guaraní shares status with Spanish as the official language. In Guatemala, people speak over 20 different Mayan languages. In northern Colombia, the village of San Basilio de Palenque was founded by escaped African slaves, and today their descendants speak Palenquero, a blend of Portuguese and Kikongo, a Bantu language.

For many Indigenous people across the Americas, repression and colonial violence didn’t end with European rule. Cruz recalls that in the mountains where she grew up, Spanish-speaking landowners constantly push to expand their farms into Native land, often with bloodshed. In the Amazon basin, illegal logging and gold mining have constantly encroached on Indigenous peoples’ lands. Along with deforestation and violence, the land grabbers may have recently brought the coronavirus to some isolated Native groups in Brazil. During the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, US-backed regimes committed genocide against Maya and other Indigenous people.

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In recent years, severe violence, climate change–fueled drought, and entrenched poverty have forced hundreds of thousands of Native people to leave their communities, especially in Central America. Many have made their way north to the United States, meaning that the brunt of the repression the US government has enacted on the border since 2014 has largely fallen on Indigenous people: In the last two years, five of the seven migrant children who died in US custody have come from Indigenous communities, and in immigrant detention centers across the country, lawyers have described a translation crisis, as both the government and NGOs fail to find translators for Native people in their court proceedings.

For Indigenous people who successfully immigrate to the United States, the presumption that Latinxs all speak Spanish can have serious repercussions. With the spread of Covid-19, the stakes are even higher. For example, few informative resources on proper hygiene and social distancing exist in Indigenous languages (though there have been some valiant efforts). If Native people need emergency care, hospitals across the country may incorrectly call in Spanish interpreters. In 2008, a Chatino woman named Cirila Baltazar Cruz (no relation to Hilaria Cruz) gave birth in Mississippi, but had her baby torn out of her arms by child protective services, after the Spanish-language translator incorrectly interpreted the mother’s description of her living conditions. It took over a year—and a Southern Poverty Law Center legal case—for her to get custody of her daughter back.

Indigenous people and Afro-Latinxs also face a structural racism that reaches across Latin America and extends into “Latino” communities in the United States, in which immigrants who speak Native languages are often ostracized. Scholars have a term for this latter form of racism: linguistic discrimination. Spanish-speaking ability in a country like Mexico, or English-speaking ability in a country like the United States, can work like skin tone: a gradient that correlates—with heartbreaking consistency—to wealth, educational access, and even life expectancy.

Afro-Latinxs also endure intense racism that often centers on language. In the United States, Cardi B—who is a Dominican Afro-Latina—has spoken out about facing racism for her accent in English, and facing bigoted challenges to her blackness simply because she speaks Spanish. Even in Spanish-speaking countries, Dominicans (a majority-black population) often face prejudice because of their accents, which get unfairly criticized as “deficient” Spanish. (Meanwhile, Hatian Creole speakers in the Dominican Republic face often brutal exclusion for not speaking Spanish at all.)

“Stereotypes about language and stereotypes about racial categories get co-naturalized—they get constructed together,” says Jonathan Rosa, a professor of linguistics at Stanford University. Rosa says that linguistic discrimination doesn’t affect only foreign or minority languages—in the United States, racists have often criticized African American Vernacular. “Language is never too far from the picture when you talk about any racialized population,” he says. “That population’s language is always stereotyped as linguistically deficient.”

There’s irony in the fact that many people in this country will call both Cruz and me “Hispanic” or “Latino.” If Latin Americans speak many different languages—and if language is only “one part” of what makes someone Latinx, as Castro says—what, then, actually defines Latinx identity? What do I, in California with my Spanglish and my quesadillas, have in common with a Mapuche person in southern Chile speaking Mapudungun and eating milcao?

At the offices of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, or MICOP, Indigenous identity in the context of Latinidad, or “Latino-ness,” is a critical part of everyday work. On any given day in MICOP’s headquarters, on California’s central coast, the office is filled with the sounds of Mixteco, English, and Spanish as people go about their work building political power among Mixteco immigrants, especially among California’s farmworkers. MICOP was founded to help strengthen Mixtec and Indigenous community living in Ventura County. (While Mixteco people are native to southwestern Mexico, tens of thousands of Mixtecos migrated to the United States in the 1980s and ’90s.)

Genieve Flores-Haro, the associate director of MICOP, says that one of the fundamental challenges the organization faces is how to work with the concept of Latinidad: “If you ask certain members of my staff, they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m Hispanic’; others will say, ‘I’m Latino, Latinx.’ Then others members will say, ‘No. I am not Latino, Latinx. I am Indigenous. And then there’s another sect that takes that even further and says, ‘No, I am not even Indigenous. I’m Native.’”

When I ask her about it, Hilaria Cruz says she “finds it a little silly” that people in the United States use “Latina” to refer to her. In the states, the people who called themselves “Latino” were the same people who in Mexico asked her to go back to her community to find them a muchacha, a maid. “The only thing they thought Indigenous people were good for was to be servants. So when I get grouped with these people, I don’t take it really seriously. I know I come from a very different experience, even though I now speak fluent Spanish.”

Cruz’s attitude is mirrored by many Native people with a Latin American heritage living in the United States. While Americanized Latinxs often wave a broad, ostensibly inclusionary banner of Latinidad, many Native people and Afro-Latinxs maintain a more separatist attitude: Why search for a place of belonging among one’s own oppressors? Such groups have promoted the idea of the abolition, of Latinidad, which many see as a white supremacist construct, and an empty form of solidarity that both buries racial violence and erases black and Native experiences.

When I ask Cruz about what should be done, she says she’s not focused on identity as much as the practical issues such as health care, which has been made all the more serious during the pandemic. “It doesn’t feel like an imposition to me,” she says of Latindad. “But it does bother me that there’s not a recognition of the existence of linguistic diversity in [Latin America]. This is the same reason, when Indigenous people seek access to medical care, that doctors and nurses will be completely ignorant and call a Spanish interpreter. And if the patients can’t understand the Spanish interpreter, then they don’t get help.”

This content was originally published here.

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Learn Spanish with Olga. My new page. #Spanish #languages – authortranslatorOlga

Hi all:

Those of you who follow my blog know that I have recently completed a course to qualify as a language teacher. The director of the course suggested told me that they were always looking for Spanish teachers (I hope they might need people when language schools open again, fingers crossed!), and I’ve been trying to get organised since I completed the course.

Recently I shared the first video of a series I hope to create covering basic Spanish topics, and I have also added a page to my blog with a variety of resources for those interested in learning the language. I decided to share the page today here as a post (also because I’m reading a fairly long book, so I have no new review to share), with a link to the actual page, so you can check it regularly, as I intend to keep adding more videos and resources.

Here it is:

 

Hello everyone!

In case you don’t know me, I’m Olga and although I’m originally from Barcelona (Spain), I moved to the UK for work reasons (I was a doctor and wanted to specialise in psychiatry) in 1992 and spent there over 25 years. During those years I did plenty of things: I worked as a psychiatrist (in a variety of specialities, mostly forensic psychiatry), I studied (a BA and a PhD in American Literature, an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice), I wrote and published a number of books (in English and Spanish) and also translated the books of quite a few authors into Spanish and English.

A couple of years ago I returned to Barcelona to support my mother, started volunteering at a local radio station and for a couple of years taught English Composition online at the University of the People. That experience made me realise that I’d like to teach languages, and in March 2020 I completed a course and obtained the CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate. With the pedagogical insights gained from the course, and as a native speaker fluent in English, I thought I could help English speakers interested in improving their level of Spanish, especially those eager to become more fluent, to practise what they have learned and brush up on their studies, those working on presentations or specific projects they would like a hand with, and people who want to communicate with the locals in a variety of situations. If you think you might be interested in that, we can chat about it in more detail. Just get in touch with me.

I am preparing a series of short videos with some basic topics, and I’ll share the links here as they become available. You can also check the following resources if you are interested in learning Spanish.

Websites:

Instituto Cervantes (Plenty of materials, from courses to articles on all kinds of topics. A well-known institution with offices all over the world.

Video ele (A whole course based around videos)

Tu escuela de español (Elena Prieto offers regular videos in her YouTube channel. There is also a Premium option)

Tio Spanish (You can also test your level and that allows you to choose level appropriate activities).

Dictionaries:

RAE (Diccionario panhispánico de dudas). The RAE (Real Academia de la Lengua Española) is the official institution tasked with creating the official dictionary and revising and updating the grammar. There are many other options, including other kinds of dictionaries, available on their website:

Many thanks, good luck, and keep learning!

And here is the link to the page, so you can bookmark it for future reference:

Thanks so much for reading and watching, and if you’re interested, remember to like, share, comment, and leave me suggestions for future videos as well. Ah, if you check the video, you’ll find a link to the presentation as well. ♥

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Learn Spanish with Olga – authortranslatorOlga

Hello everyone!

In case you don’t know me, I’m Olga and although I’m originally from Barcelona (Spain), I moved to the UK for work reasons (I was a doctor and wanted to specialise in psychiatry) in 1992 and spent there over 25 years. During those years I did plenty of things: I worked as a psychiatrist (in a variety of specialities, mostly forensic psychiatry), I studied (a BA and a PhD in American Literature, an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice), I wrote and published a number of books (in English and Spanish) and also translated the books of quite a few authors into Spanish and English.

A couple of years ago I returned to Barcelona to support my mother, started volunteering at a local radio station and for a couple of years taught English Composition online at the University of the People. That experience made me realise that I’d like to teach languages, and in March 2020 I completed a course and obtained the CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate. With the pedagogical insights gained from the course, and as a native speaker fluent in English, I thought I could help English speakers interested in improving their level of Spanish, especially those eager to become more fluent, to practise what they have learned and brush up on their studies, those working on presentations or specific projects they would like a hand with, and people who want to communicate with the locals in a variety of situations. If you think you might be interested in that, we can chat about it in more detail. Just get in touch with me.

I am preparing a series of short videos with some basic topics, and I’ll share the links here as they become available. You can also check the following resources if you are interested in learning Spanish.

Websites:

Instituto Cervantes (Plenty of materials, from courses to articles on all kinds of topics. A well-known institution with offices all over the world.

Video ele  (A whole course based around videos)

Tu escuela de español  (Elena Prieto offers regular videos in her YouTube channel. There is also a Premium option)

Tio Spanish (You can also test your level and that allows you to choose level appropriate activities).

Dictionaries:

RAE (Diccionario panhispánico de dudas). The RAE (Real Academia de la Lengua Española) is the official institution tasked with creating the official dictionary and revising and updating the grammar. There are many other options, including other kinds of dictionaries, available on their website:

This content was originally published here.

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Ana G. Méndez University Launches Virtual Course for Professionals to Learn Spanish | Miami’s Community News

Workshops are designed for people who have little to no knowledge in Spanish speaking, a vital tool for career advancement in a state experiencing an exponential growth in Hispanics.

With a sustained growth of almost 20% annually in the Hispanic Florida population, the basic knowledge of the Spanish language becomes a vital and necessary tool for professionals who want to be successful in their career or business.

In tune with this demographic reality and as part of its growing portfolio of community-focused initiatives, Ana G. Méndez University (UAGM) announces the launch of a modular and interactive short program for teaching Spanish. UAGM, a leading institution for the professional development of Hispanics in the United States, designed the curriculum for professionals who have little to no knowledge of this language.

First to launch on June 8 “Spanish for Professionals”, will be delivered over an 8-week period.

“This program was created as a result of a demand from Florida companies and corporations that have long sought an accredited education institution offering these courses so their employees could aquire basic knowledge of Spanish to serve a growing customer base that demands products and services in the language,” said Eduardo Cases, director of Business Development at UAGM.

“We have created this short, practical and effective course not only for corporate employees, but for the general public who wishes to enrich their knowledge and increase their chances of success in a competitive job and economic market like Central Florida,” he added.

In 2018, the Hispanic population had an extraordinary population growth of 26.1%, according to the Federal Census Office. An upward demographic trend is expected to be documented when the agency analyzes 2019 data and continues to grow by 2020.

Florida has a population of 21.1 million, 5.5 million of which are Hispanic. The majority of Hispanic groups are Cubans, with a population of 1.5 million; Puerto Ricans, who number 1.2 million; and Mexicans who reach a population of 736,566, according to the Census.

The course is designed with three levels. Level 1 is an introductory level intended for professionals who have little to no knowledge of the language. It includes vocabulary, basic grammar as well as emphasizes pronunciation, reading, comprehension and basic communication in Spanish. Customs and cultural insights are also presented. 

This introductory course will be offered virtually on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. beginning next Monday, June 8. The duration of the course is 32 hours and the cost is $399. Registration can be completed through this link: http://bit.ly/uagmspanish1.

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

Beginning August, UAGM will begin to offer Intermediate and Advanced Spanish courses.

The Intermediate or Level 2 course not only expands new vocabulary and conversational skills, but participants will have a more active and intensive participation in oral communication, reading, writing and grammar practices. At this level, listening and speaking skills will be emphasized.

In Advanced or Level 3, students will engage and participate in authentic experiences simulating real-life situations during which they will be able to use Spanish. To achieve a more immersive and meaningful experience, these practical excercises will include sample situations respective to the professional field of the student. 

“UAGM is committed to empowering Floridians with the skills they need to thrive professionally,” emphasized Cases.

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Learn Spanish With a Lifetime Rosetta Stone License, Now $40 Off

Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

Como estas? Mi nombre es Quentyn. And that’s about the extent of what I remember from the one semester of Spanish I took. If you’re like me and could brush up on basics of the world’s most common languages, Rosetta Stone deals like this one are juicy. You’ll get a lifetime license to learn Spanish—of the Latin America vernacular, specifically—for $160, which is $40 cheaper than its usual going price of late.

Considering the 12-month license is currently $20 more, this is a deal you shouldn’t hesitate to hop on if you’re looking to expand your tongue’s capabilities.

P.S.: For what it’s worth, the promo graphic at Amazon suggests this license also includes 100% access to all 24+ Rosetta languages. We can’t verify the legitimacy of this offer right now, so your safest best to buy it only if you know for certain you’d be fine with Spanish alone. Consider anything more a sweet bonus.

Peak Design Is Donating All of Its Travel Tripod Launch Profits to…

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Do You Need to Speak Spanish Living in Panama? – Route to Retire

Do You Need to Speak Spanish Living in Panama?If you’re an English-speaker in a country like Panama and don’t speak Spanish well, you’ll find yourself saying things like this quite a bit to strangers:

¿Habla usted Inglés? or ¿Hablas Inglés?

Both sentences are asking “Do you speak English?” with the first being a little more formal. Either iteration tends to get the point across though… you don’t speak Spanish well and you’re praying the other person does.

Generally here in Boquete, Panama, the response will be “no”… and hopefully you can figure out what that Spanish word means! In some cases though, you might get a little luckier with hearing “un poco”, which means “a little.” In either case, that’s likely when you both start smiling because you know that the rest of the attempted conversation is going to be interesting.

So the question is, do you need to speak Spanish while living in Panama? And if so, how do you learn it?

Does everyone in Panama speak Spanish?

As I stated in the intro, most folks here in Boquete, Panama speak Spanish. It’s the official language and you shouldn’t expect otherwise. If you want to be welcomed more openly, learning at least a little bit of the language is a sign that you’re trying to fit in more.

Don’t be the jackass who rolls their eyes and gets frustrated because someone doesn’t speak English. You’re a guest in their country – if you don’t speak Spanish and don’t want to put in the effort, then don’t get upset if you can’t communicate well. Suck it up and accept it graciously or take the time to learn the language.

Now with that said, one of the things I love about Boquete is that most of the locals here work with you to try to communicate… especially if you attempt to speak even a little bit of Spanish. In some cases, the discussion might involve a couple of Spanish words you know or that they might know in English. Other times, it might be a game of charades or pointing.

I look at it as a fun game and actually enjoy these conversations. It’s amazing to me just to be able to communicate with someone speaking a completely different language.

Somehow though, it seems like you’ll be able to understand each other to some degree almost all the time… with an emphasis on “almost.”

So that’s the majority of cases here, but once in a great while you’ll find a local here who does speak English pretty well. I love that but not for the reason you might think. Sure, it’s easier to have a discussion in a language you’re more familiar with using.

However, I like that I can practice my Spanish with them and they can tell me what I’m saying incorrectly… it’s a great learning opportunity for me! Usually, we both get a couple of laughs and I’m happy making a new friend.

The other factor that can come into play is where you live. Boquete is one of the largest expat communities in Panama. If you live in a neighborhood that’s mostly expats, you’ll find that a lot of those folks speak English.

That’s both a pro and a con. We moved to Valle Escondido for several reasons but making that the first foreign place we’d live would also make the transition easier. Having folks around who speak the same language as you can be a lot less frustrating while adjusting.

But on the flip side, it’s mostly isolated from the Panamanians. That means that we’re not speaking a lot of Spanish unless we’re in town or out and about. One of the goals we had when moving here was to learn more about the Panamanian culture and that’s harder for us to do when we’re not in the middle of it.

Do I speak Spanish?

Estoy aprendiendo a hablar español, pero no soy muy bueno. I’m learning to speak Spanish, but I’m not very good.

I took a couple of semesters of Spanish back in high school and I have to give credit to my teachers back then – Mrs. Boyarski and Mr. Felinski. A lot of that foundation I had has made it easier in remembering some words and phrases, understanding noun genders, and conjugating verbs.

That said, as confident as my brother (who also took Spanish in school) and I were when our families visited Panama together in 2017, we realized that we were fighting a losing battle in trying to regurgitate the Spanish we had learned decades earlier. We failed miserably at more than one discussion while there!

I decided then that if we moved to Panama, I’d like to learn to speak Spanish better. So that’s what I started doing once we decided to make this adventure happen.

A handful of months before we moved to Boquete, Panama in the summer of 2019, I started learning the language slowly but surely. I have a lot of work to do in that respect, but I continue to feel more and more comfortable in having basic conversations with Panamanians here. I still struggle quite a bit (especially with as fast as they speak) but my skills are growing more every day.

How I’m learning Spanish

Because I already had somewhat of a base with the Spanish I learned in high school, I decided to learn without a tutor… at least for now.

So I started with a few apps, moved into an online pre-recorded course, and have plans to continue with other avenues of learning down the line. I haven’t felt the need to spend any money on learning to speak Spanish yet. The free options I’ve found so far have been plenty sufficient.

However, I’m not opposed to that either. Our daughter, Faith, had been going to a tutor every week (until the pandemic hit). More on that shortly.

Here’s what I’ve been using on my quest to learn to speak Spanish…

Drops is a pretty cool app. The whole idea is that you learn Spanish in small “drops” of time – 5 minutes per day.

The app teaches you a ton of different words along with some phrases and grammar. You learn the words through a bunch of small quizzes like matching games, spelling, true or false type scenarios, etc…

These little quizzes are easy enough to figure out and you do different ones over and over. It’s easy to work with and very helpful in the learning process.

As of last Friday, I haven’t missed a single day of doing Drops in 435 days!

I’m getting close to completing the entire Drops curriculum. I should be done within the next few weeks.

Although the free version has been good enough for my purposes, there is a premium version available. That version varies in price and gives you additional extras such as unlimited time, offline access, no ads, and the ability to review words at any time.

Duolingo is probably one of the most well-known apps for learning a new language. It’s very well done and probably the best app I’ve used for learning full sentences and grammar.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get through this whole app. I’ve been doing this almost every single day for well over a year now and I’m probably only about a third of the way through it! That’s good in that they have so much content, but for a check-it-off-the list, OCD-like personality like mine, I appreciate a finish line.

I’ll get there – it’s just going to take a while. As I finish up on other apps, I’ll be doubling down on Duolingo to try to crush it even faster. Similar to Drops, you go through each lesson by just doing some questions and other challenges…

Duolingo is completely free but there is a premium version available called Duolingo Plus. It offers additional benefits such as an ad-free experience and offline access.

I started the Memrise app a little bit after Drops and Duolingo.

This one through me off a little bit though because at some points the content was so much harder than the content in the other apps – I’m talking about really complicated sentences you’re expected to become familiar with. But other times, it was right on par with the difficulty level you’d find in the others.

Still, it was some solid learning and I appreciated the challenge. Like the others, you just repeat different challenges or puzzles to make your way through each course. Over time, the words and phrases just get ingrained in your head.

I completed the Memrise course a few weeks ago – that was a good feeling of accomplishment! Seven levels of learning to speak Spanish… done!

Similar to the other apps, I used the free version but there are some premium features available if they serve you well.

More info: Memrise website

The Great Courses: Learning Spanish

The downside to the various apps is that they just give you words and sentences and help you to basically memorize them. That’s great to a point, but learning the “whys” and “how-tos” can be more effective. In that regard, an online course to learn to speak Spanish is the next best thing to a live tutor.

While digging around one day last year on our U.S. library’s online offerings, I found that they had a Spanish course available…

Learning Spanish: How to Understand and Speak a New Language taught by Professor Bill Worden. He’s an associate professor of Spanish at The University of Alabama.

This Spanish level-1 class has 30 lectures with each being around 35-45 minutes. That’s over 20 HOURS of material on learning how to speak Spanish!

Now, if you click on the link above, you’ll see that the course is around $335… ouch!

It’s taken me some time to get through it and digest it all and I can tell you that the price isn’t unjustifiable, but getting it for free through the library makes it an even better deal!

I just finished the entire course a couple of days ago. I learned a lot but I will say that the last few lessons on past tense (preterite) verbs were a bit overwhelming. I’ll definitely need to revisit those lessons again.

I had so many “a-ha” moments of why things are said a certain way in Spanish that this course was well worth it. I can’t guarantee your library has “The Great Courses” available to you or this class in particular, but you’ll likely find it valuable if they do.

Talking to others in Spanish

This is the most beneficial way to learn to speak Spanish, in my opinion. You become fully immersed in real-life settings, have to listen more closely because they talk faster, and have to adjust to different dialects.

But even better is that you get feedback on if you’re screwing up completely. Apps can’t give you a weird look if you’re pronouncing words slightly off. And if you start talking to a bilingual Panamanian, that’s an even better bonus! Being able to hear feedback in English on what you’re botching is extremely valuable.

I’m used to being the guy making conversation with strangers so why not do it here as well? Current lockdown excluded, I try to talk with Panamanian taxi drivers, store employees or customers, restaurant servers, etc. A little small talk can bring a smile to others while giving me the chance to practice a little more.

And so on…

I’m probably going to add Rosetta Stone to my list of learning tools to make my way through. Although this is a pay-only subscription, I found out that I can access it online through the library for free. The downside is that I think it only works using it through their website and not the app, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Other than all of the above, I plan to start watching the Panamanian news. Several folks have told me that this is a very smart way to learn to speak Spanish. The reason is that newscasters have a tendency to speak slower, more clearly, and annunciate their words.

Will all these apps, the course, and being more immersed in Spanish make me fluent? I doubt it. That’s a process that can take years of training and I don’t anticipate reaching that level.

But just being able to have some conversations a little deeper than “my name is Jim” and “how are you?” makes it worthwhile.

Is the rest of the family learning to speak Spanish?

I was lucky to have that foundation with Spanish back in high school. It’s made learning to speak Spanish much easier.

My wife, Lisa, and our daughter, Faith, haven’t had that benefit though.

Faith was going to a Spanish tutor here in Panama every week as part of her homeschooling. That’s been helpful for her but we had to stop that when they went into lockdown mode here during the COVID-19 fun. Once the restrictions loosen up, she’ll resume classes.

In the meantime, she’s still moving slowly forward. She continues to practice a lot of the words and homework her tutor had given her and does Duolingo a few times a week.

My favorite though is that she watches the Netflix original show The Boss Baby: Back in Business. This is a 3-season cartoon based on the movie and Faith knows almost every episode by heart. So she watches the show in Spanish a few times a week. Since she knows the English version inside and out, hearing it in Spanish is helping to build her skills as well.

Lisa was going to the same tutor as Faith but stopped going a while ago. She’s watched a couple of lectures of the Learning Spanish class in the Great Courses but didn’t appreciate it as much as I did. So now she’s spending a lot of time focusing on Drops and Duolingo.

So, do you need to speak Spanish while living in Panama? No, there are many expats living here who don’t speak Spanish and get by just fine. I’m good with that unless you’re the complainy-pants who whines about the language barrier.

But the better question is “should you learn to speak Spanish while living in Panama” and that will depend on you. It’s definitely harder to learn new things like a language as you get older but I also think it’s worth it. Being able to communicate effectively with others can not only make life a lot easier, but it also paves the way for making new friendships in life.

Do you speak Spanish? Would the language barrier keep you from visiting or living in a country where Spanish is the primary language spoken?

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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Spanish for beginners. Learn Spanish language. Level 2

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How to Learn Spanish or Any Language on Your Own While Traveling

Do you want to learn a new language to improve your traveling experience, but don’t want to spend money on classes or expensive language learning applications? That’s how I felt in 2019 as I embarked on my first big journey abroad to South America, without knowing a lick of Spanish. But I was determined to learn anyway.

When I got to Ecuador, I quickly realized that learning a new language would take more than just a Spanish phrase book and a few Duolingo lessons. Learning a new language takes immersion, regular practice, and — let’s face it — enjoyability. Otherwise it just feels like a chore. Over the months I spent in 2019 and even after I left South America, I incorporated many free and fun strategies into learning Spanish, which brought me to a level of comprehension that I’m now really proud of.

To be upfront, I did take a month of Spanish lessons while I was in Peru, which jump started my understanding of grammar and pronunciation. However, you can learn so much about a language using workbooks (checkout your local used bookstore), free online lessons, and a ton of the resources I’m about to share with you.

So if you’re like me and you want to learn a language while you’re traveling on the road, know that you’ve got loads of free resources and strategies to work with. Read on to find out some of the best ways to learn Spanish or any new language while you’re traveling.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase something through a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Study verbs and vocabulary using the free Quizlet app. You can study word lists that other users have already created, or make your own. Practice your language skills using different modes: digital flash cards, matching games, fill-in-the-blank, and tests.

Use the Duolingo app to practice your grammar and new vocabulary everyday. The free version is fantastic, but the paid version has some nice perks including an ad-free experience, downloadable lessons for offline practice (great for traveling), unlimited skill test-outs (to skip to the next lesson), and unlimited health so you don’t have to watch a ton of ads in order to continue practicing.

Use the Drops app daily to improve your vocabulary. The free version allow you to practice new vocabulary for five minutes every day. The premium version allows unlimited practice time each day, is ad free, and you can choose to practice any section at any time instead of going in the app’s order. There is no grammar in this app, so use it as a vocabulary supplement.

Follow instagram accounts that share content in the language you want to learn. This is a fun immersion strategy. I follow several Spanish accounts on Instagram to practice translating everyday posts. Here are a few that I enjoy: @72kilos @culturapositiva @uychica @netflixes @lavecinarubia

Bonus App for Spanish Learners: Download the SpanishDict app, which is often more accurate than Google Translate. It also provides conjugation and sound bytes of all words in Spanish.

Language Learning with Audio

Listen to free audio language lessons via library audiobook or Spotify. You can do a search in Spotify by typing in the language you want to learn and then pasting in one of the following album recommendations:

Listen to Podcasts that teach you lessons or allow you to practice listening to stories in your desired language. Tip: If you listen to a podcast that is mostly conversational, slow down the playback speed to 1/2x in order to hear the words more slowly. I recommend these podcast series for Spanish and other languages:

Find or make a playlist of songs in the language that you want to learn. This is a fun way to incorporate immersion into your daily life, and find new music to love. I have a playlist of Spanish songs that I made on Spotify, but you can also find playlists on YouTubePandora, SoundCloud, or MixCloud.

Learn how to sing songs in the language you’re learning. Hands down, this is the top tip I get from people who have learned a second language. Make sure that you choose a song that you can listen to over and over again because you’ll be doing that a lot. Focus on pronunciation and understanding what the lyrics mean when you say them. You’ll learn more about flow and sentence structure in a fun way.

Language Learning with Video

Use YouTube to find free language learning lessons. It’s a great way to find grammar explanations, dialogue exchanges, and whatever type of vocabulary you’re trying to learn. If you’re learning Spanish, I recommend checking out The Spanish Dude. He’s great at explaining grammar.

Watch movies and TV shows in the language you want to learn, but use a strategy. Learning to read a language versus listening are two completely different things, and this method helps both types of learning. For example, if I was learning Spanish, I would first first watch a movie or episode with Spanish audio and English subtitles. Then I would watch the same thing a second time but with both Spanish audio and Spanish subtitles. I would also pause any parts that I don’t understand and take down notes for words or phrases to practice. Finally, I’d watch it for a third time with Spanish audio and no subtitles to try to understand as much as possible without reading.

Bonus for Spanish Learners with Netflix: These are some of my favorite Spanish Netflix series and recommendations: Elite, Money Heist (La Casa de Papel), La Reina Del Sur, Locked Up (Vis a Vis), The House of Flowers (La Casa de Las Flores), Siempre Bruja (Always a Witch), The Queen of Flow (La Reina Del Flow).

Language Learning through Social Exchange

Go to a language exchange meet up in the city where you reside. These meets ups are often hosted at bars or coffee shops. If you can’t find one in your area, consider starting your own! Here are two websites that I’ve used to find language exchanges in the areas where I’ve traveled:

Sign up for an online language exchange and practice with someone who speaks the language you want to learn. Warning: ladies, I‘ve heard that many men use these websites solely to meet women, so maybe consider only pairing up with other women. Here are some free and recommended language exchange sites: The Mixxer, Conversation Exchange, Easy Language Exchange.

If you visit a country that speaks the language you want to learn, commit to only speaking that language with locals. It doesn’t matter if you speak in broken pieces or if they can speak your native language. It’s all about trying and using what you know. You can’t improve your language skills without practice, no matter how painful in the beginning.

Language Learning with Pen and Paper

Keep a notebook of common phrases you’d like to learn, and practice those everyday. Start with phrases such as “How much does it cost?” or “My Name is…” and then work your way up to more complex phrases that would be helpful.

Regularly write about your day, stories you’d like to share, descriptions of people you know, the plot of your favorite movies, etc. Anything that will get you to practice words and phrases that you want to know in real life. Remember that the grammar doesn’t have to be perfect… you aren’t being graded, you just need to train your brain to start thinking, reading, and writing in a new language even if it’s not perfect!

Add sticky notes to objects in your home and label them in the language you are studying. This may not work if you are staying in a hostel or have a ton of roommates, but if you can get away with it, start in the kitchen by labeling things like refrigerator, oven, microwave, bowls, blender, etc. Then continue this in the bathroom, living room, your own room, or wherever you feel comfortable.

Tips for Learning a New Language While Traveling

In general, practice speaking out loud whenever you study your new language. Do this with your apps, audio lessons, and your notebook phrases. Pronunciation is just as important as any other element in language learning.

Some people will tell you that they learned a new language in three months. (They didn’t.) Some people will tell you it’s easy. (It’s not.) Some people will say that they just used one application and now they’re fluent. (That’s not truth.)

So be patient, don’t compare yourself to the progress of others, and most importantly, have fun with it. I love testing my progress by watching shows in Spanish and listening to new songs and writing to my Spanish-speaking friends in their language. The best part is that I can do this anywhere in the world as long as I have a connection to wifi. I’m so thankful for the digital age that we live in, which makes language learning a whole lot more accessible and fun!

What language do you want to learn? What have been your favorite learning strategies so far?

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We Speak Spanish | Se Habla Español | Vendemos Autos Usados

Did you know here at McCloskey Motors we have sales professionals and managers that can help ou Spanish speaking community! Check out the video below and call us right now to set your VIP appointment!

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