Change is in the air…

March 1, 2009

Paul and I have lived in Mazatlán for a year and a half now. We’ve been taking Spanish classes for most of that time, and have progressed quite a lot. We understand all the tenses and know how they are used.

We can read the paper. We can go about our daily life without a lot of tension. But one of our goals – that we stated before we even moved here – was to be able to have a meaningful conversation with our daughter-in-law Martha’s parents. We could have a conversation with her now, but I’m not too sure that we would be very satisfied with it.  We have extended an invitation to them for Christmas, and while we don’t know if that will come to pass we are working under the assumption that it will.

So, we have decided that we need to make a change. We need to feel enthusiastic and fresh.  Here’s what we’re doing:

We have stopped taking lessons from Hector. He is an excellent teacher, and we highly recommend him, but we just need to get out of our comfort zone and try someone new. We have a couple of names and after we take a a few weeks off, we’ll start exploring them.

We have been watching Destinos,a 52 episode telenovela filmed in the 1980’s that teaches listening, speaking, and comprehension skills in Spanish.  One of our main problems is that we need to be more capable at understanding normal speed Spanish, and this should help.  We have tried to watch normal Mexican telenovelas, but they speak way too fast for us.  The website link above allows you to watch online.

We are going to the mercado every few days.  It has been very hard to break the supermarket-once-a-week habit for us, but since we live four blocks from the main mercado it’s now our Spanish lesson time.  Plus we can always use some lovely fresh fruits and vegetables!

We listen to lots of Spanish music.  Our favorites?  Juanes, Lhasa, Lila Downs, Presuntos Implicados, Rocio Durcal, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Julieta Venegas, Laura Pausini,  Maná, Natalia Lafourcade,  and Ximena Sariñana.  When we’re out in the car we listen to Música Romántica, a local radio station that plays easy listening (i.e. easier to understand) music.  They also have easier to understand (and less shout-y) advertising.

Paul is planning to take a two or three week immersion class, probably in May.  One of the challenges couples face is that they talk to each other in English, so he’ll go by himself.  Depending on his report, I may or may not do the same.  Being a vegetarian, a home stay creates a whole bunch of issues for me.  I know that Paul will really progress if he does this.

I do better than he does with books and audio lessons.  We have a number of text books, and I knuckle down with them every day.  When I exercise I listen to the Advanced Michel Thomas.

A couple of new things we’re using…installing Google toolbar allows you to use their translate tool.  We like it because no matter where you are on the web, hover over a word and it will give you the Spanish translation.  You can hide the toolbar and still use the tool.

We’d become a bit bored by our Spanish learning strategy and are hoping that this shake-up will freshen it up for us and help us achieve our goals, both in the long and short run.

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in Mazatlán, México but excited about moving soon to San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco.

9 Comments
    1. Have fun while you start this next plan in your Spanish journey. I think it’s great that you are making such an effort, learning a new language is NOT easy! I wish I could take classes, for now it’s “español de la calle” for me.

      Keep us posted on your progress, I look forward to your first post in Spanish. 🙂

    1. I feel ashamed that I let my progress plateau. Maybe a renewed effort is a goal for this new month. Julieta Venegas is super cute and we also l-o-v-e Miranda!

    1. Nancy,
      Destinos is great! I started watching it on Public Televison about three months before I came to Mexico and it gave me a real kick-start. I think you guys have a fantastic attitude. It really takes a number of years of hard work to get fluent enough to jump in with both feet in any situation but the more aggressive you become in learning the language the greater confidence you have and the more you learn. Learning another language well gives one such a better understanding of people and their culture that it is addictive. I hope that you and Paul both have a wonderful journey.

    1. I envy you … it sounds like a thoughtful and meaningful plan!

    1. Great music choices!!! Mana, Juanes, Julieta Venegas are just a few of my faves too!

      I think taking the “”in class” lessons at the local spanish school is a fantastic idea! I myself am enrolling for classes in September (low season). I just haven’t decided which school to study at yet, Berlitz (pricey) or Amerispan. I am leaning towards Amerispan at this point. Plus I’ve been in touch with the school and am very impressed with their program!

      Anyways, best of luck on the spanish front! It’s such an exciting time!!! Practico, Practico, Practico!!!

    1. I am totally going to start watching the show. I need something to keep me going. Once the kids get into school they will blow past me. And I will not be okay with the kids talking back in a language that I do not understand. I love the pics of Carnival. Looks like is was a great time.

    1. “We have tried to watch normal Mexican telenovelas, but they speak way too fast for us.”
      I have tried to watch telenovelas but they bore me, everyone is so animated about nothing. I can never figure out what is going on, but I have the same problem with those sorts of shows in English.
      I did like watching The Labyrinth and Motorcycle Diaries in Spanish, those were interesting and the Spanish is good. I don’t care for dubbed movies and these were originally made in Spanish.
      The number one reason Husband doesn’t speak Spanish better is because I do, lately I have taken to a tough love approach,where he’ll say something in English (expecting me to repeat it in Spanish to who ever he really is talking to) and I either say “Oh, really” Or just look at him like he is Martian.
      Today he ordered coffee delivered to the house, and it showed up and was the right stuff!! Even though he told the owner he wanted to make a lost (perdido) instead of an order (pedido).
      regards,
      Theresa

    1. I also use Michel Thomas and am watching the Destinos. There is another little soap opera type one that is put out by the BBC. It is called Mi Vida Loca, it uses the european spanish; but you will know the differences in the pronunciation of different words so it shouldn’t make a difference to you. The website is here, if you are interested: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/mividaloca/
      Good luck.

    1. CancunCanuck, Thanks so much, I am working hard, some days are better than others!

      Jillian, I find it hard sometimes to motivate without rewards…can I say – chocolate?

      Bob, I am so impressed with your Spanish, it is hard for me to even believe there was a day that you were learning with Destinos, too. Thanks for the kind words, I think the people struggling to communicate with a boyfriend or girlfriend really progress faster.

      AMM – Thanks, time will tell!

      Lauren, Practice is right. Paul and I sometimes try to just speak spanish to each other and forget within two minutes! So we have to go outside for practice. I don’t know those schools but I look forward to you telling about them once you get into it.

      Mindy – Yeah, I think you had better knuckle down. You don’t want the kids to have their own secret language, do you?

      Theresa, You always crack me up! I can sympathize with Husband, it would be easy to sit back and let someone else do it. But I am proud of him getting his coffee today. As Michel Thomas (my cd teacher) says ” the important thing is to get it over the net…if you get a blank look it is a net ball and you’ll have to serve it over again”

      Brenda, Isn’t it funny how we have the same methods develop? I will check out the BBC course especially since I am trying to have something to watch while I ski on my new (actually used, but new to me) nordic track.

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