Mazatlan this ‘n that

May 14, 2014

Life is good here in Mazatlán. Warm but not too warm. Sunny but not too sunny. Breezy but not too windy. We love it.

What’s been going on? Not too much. I’ve been watching my pineapple grow… I would say it’ll be ready to eat in about another month. This is the second one I’ve grown by planting a pineapple top – the first was delicious so I hope this one is, too.

I’ve been keeping up on the walking and feel like I am just about ready to start a bit of jogging/running as part of my walk. I finally feel like I am back to a decent level of fitness after my year of ovarian cancer. As a matter of fact I have my one year post chemo appointment this afternoon, and since I feel great and my lab results were great I’m sure the doctor will be pleased.

I have renewed enthusiasm for studying Spanish. I have finally realized that I won’t progress much further without actual study. Osmosis just won’t do it, or at least not as fast as I want. So I have been listening to audio Spanish lessons as I walk every day. That means I’m getting at least an hour a day of lessons, and sometimes more if I listen while I knit or cook or something.

In conversations I have around town it is easy as pie to avoid using tenses I feel insecure with and stay with my tried and true vocabulary. I know I need to push myself more.

The first audio lessons I started with were Learn Spanish With Paul Noble. This 12 CD course is interesting because he starts out in the past tense, teaching you the present perfect (he-has-ha-han-hemos with ado or ido.) This was just so refreshing, rather than re-hashing all that beginner stuff again! His two speakers are both native speakers, one from Spain and one from Mexico. I liked them a lot.

I am now listening to the Michel Thomas Speak Spanish Advanced 5 CD course. His two speakers are non-native speakers, which gives him a chance to point out their errors, which can be helpful. The first bit of the course is review and then he moves straight in to some intense work on the past, future, and subjunctive tenses. I really like his style as he uses mnemonics to help you remember things. Thefirst 8 CD course was vital to getting us started learning Spanish before we even moved here. (I took the CD’s out of the library) I’ll never ever forget the little song he sings to remind you of the past preterite conjugation endings! I highly recommend them.

There are lots of free podcasts and things like that online when I get done with all this. Then I think I’ll try an audiobook in Spanish. Maybe I’ll start with something simple, does anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking something like Nancy Drew but I haven’t found anything yet.

A am pretty fearless talking to people so I get a fair bit of practice that way, and I do watch videos in Spanish sporadically too. But I want to improve and become more confident.

I hope you are enjoying Spring as much as I am. See you!

Share and Enjoy !

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Nancy – Love that pineapple! The colors look welcoming and I can see the heat making it grow.

    1. Congrats on the great checkup! And fresh pineapple – YUM. Enjoy.

    1. Hi Nancy! Hooray for your continued good health! Thanks for posting these links to Spanish courses- I am in the same spot as you: conversant enough to get by without too much shame or embarrassment, but I know I can do better and learn more- especially past/future tenses and subjunctive. I’m going to give these audio lessons a try- we’re in the car so much, it’s a perfect time to squeeze in some practice. Audio book for young audience is a great idea, too. At the gym I read he subtitles on the American sitcoms, which helps my visual recognition of certain verb forms. Saludos from Yucatan! xoM

    1. Now that I have decided to start down the path to Mexican citizenship, I will need to get serious about buffing up my Spanish. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Hola Nancy!

      Here are a couple of my tips for learning Spanish.

      1) Read something in translation that you know well in English. For me it was Harry Potter. The first 150 pages were a real slog, but then something clicked in my brain after that, and it went much faster.

      2) Read some children’s books. Obviously these use simpler Spanish. When you’re done, donate them to some needy kids.

      3) Learn some stock phrases, and learn them cold. English equivalents might be things like “What do you mean?” “Where did you put that?” Once you think about it, these phrases are so common that they almost take on the characteristic of a single word.

      4) Learn to sing along with some songs in Spanish. Find some music in Spanish that you like, then find the lyrics on the web (“letras” = lyrics). Sing along. Also note that the lyrics that you find are typically uploaded by fans of the music and often are incorrect in places. For extra credit, correct the lyrics where they’re wrong.

      5) Take a Mexican lover on the side. Tell Paul that it’s really the best way to learn a foreign language. I’m sure he’ll appreciate your dedication to acculturating to your new-ish home.


      Kim G
      Tehuacán, Puebla
      Where we’re not sure how we’d have all these conversations around town in only the present tense.

      1. Terry & Elena, Thanks so much! Looking forward to that pineapple!

        Missy, Thank you! And if you come up with some more ideas for language learning, please let me know what works!

        Steve, Absolutely.

        Kim, I have done some of the things you recommend (well, haven’t taken a Mexican lover…) and It’s funny but I downloaded the first Harry Potter book as an audio book. I have one of those left side English – right side Spanish books, too. Just need to actually read it!

        It has obviously taken me a while to get where I am now, language-wise, so I don’t think I am going to improve in just minutes, it’s going to take real dedication and time. But my main frustration is how much I want to get more from lectures, live performances, and deepen relationships with people. I am going to make this happen, I am determined. Thanks for your support.

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