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.