Spain Is Just Around the Corner

“Las camisas no son rojas.” Translation: The shirts are not red.

I am up to Level 4 in a Duolingo online Spanish language program. This is a very precisely programmed course of instruction which only allows me to proceed sequentially. I am still using present tense verbs and I am learning a lot of new vocabulary. Aside from the fact that in my past two attempts at using the program, the screen has suddenly disappeared and I can’t figure out why, I have been having fun learning Spanish.

But here’s the problem…
Knowing how to say “las cebollas no son animales” (onions are not animals) is not going to help me get around Spain which I will be visiting this Sunday for 11 days. I also think it will not make for very exciting casual bar talk over tapas and sangria.

I need to pick up some conversational tidbits such as “Where is restaurant such and such….? “Where do I find the bus stop to go to Parc Guell?” “How much is that bottle of wine?” “I’d like steak and potatoes, please.”

I love languages and learning them. For me, it’s fun…kinda’ like solving a puzzle, piece by piece. Being fairly fluent in French (I lived there for a year a long time ago) has enabled me to pick up other Romance languages with some ease. If I run into a problem with, say, Spanish…I’ve learned to just say the word in French with a Spanish accent and add an “e” or an “o,” or an “a” at the end of the word to make it sound more like Spanish. By doing so I can usually make myself understood to a savvy native speaker.

With the deadline for departure less than a week away, I know I’ll have to resort to Plan B, which is to just dive into the language and hope for the best. Doing so used to be easier when I was younger and less daunted by the need for perfection. Now, when I am in a situation where I feel language-challenged, I sometimes freeze up and can’t remember any word that sounds even close to what I want. I have seen this happen so often with my own students. Other times I just can’t remember the word…a sign of a brain that’s getting older, more saturated, and a lot less quick on recall.

What I need to remember is that most people (except in France, which I love dearly in spite of their language haughtiness) are very forgiving if you make a sincere attempt to speak in their native language. They will help you if they can. And sometimes being language challenged can lead to making new friends, or at least a good tip from a native on where to go to eat or drink.

So, dear friends, next week I’ll be spending a few days each in Madrid, Seville and Barcelona (in that order) where I hope to be improving my Castilian Spanish. In Barcelona, where Catalan is predominant, I know I will be at a distinct disadvantage.

Most of the Spanish I know I picked up from working as an English as a New Language teacher for 25 years with students mostly from Central and South America where Spanish is spoken quite differently. Nonetheless, I learned enough Spanish to converse in a limited way with my former students and their parents, when the need arose.

Baby steps….

Published by

barbara suter

I'm a retired teacher who enjoys writing and sharing in this; unique blogging community.

18 thoughts on “Spain Is Just Around the Corner”

  1. ¡Tenga un viaje de la diversión, aventurero! Can’t wait to see photos when you get back. (Have a fun and safe trip!) 🙂


    1. Your comment reply was blank, so I pressed “reply” and got the comment. You are fluent in Spanish! I am impressed and wish I could take you along. I promise I’ll share some photos and some comments on how my baby Spanish holds up! Barbara

      Sent from my iPad

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I confess, I cheated. I used Google translator to type that…though I ‘would’ love to go along with you! Can’t wait to read about your adventures! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bon voyage! Looking forward to seeing your photos. I must admit, I chuckled over your title and thought no wonder we confuse ELLs with all our English idioms.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t realize I’d done that until you pointed it out! Ha! That’s pretty funny and very apt. However, other languages have just as many idioms and they are just as elusive as ours. I promise to share photos and observations after I return.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Have a great trip. Sounds like you’re bringing a great attitude to bolster the language skills that you’ve been cultivating. Meanwhile, your slice reminds me of my wife’s ill-fated attempt to hone our Spanish years ago. That netted us a CD set for learning *business* Spanish, which initially taught me how to say, “My colleague would like some coffee.” Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if all else fails, I’ll just fall back on “una Sangria, por favor!” This will be a test of how “cool” I can be under pressure…. I’ll let you know what happens.


  4. I imagine you will do well. I know I have in the past traveling in Europe. English seems to be spoken everywhere. When I was in Wales, I happened to stay in the heritage language center of the country. Before long, we could read the signs and truly the use of so many consecutive consonants threw me.

    Enjoy your holiday. Being immersed in language helps the most. Well, that and need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Need is definitely a big motivator! I’ll just have to improvise and try not to be daunted. I’m not too worried…but maybe I should be? English is spoken everywhere, but not everyone wishes to speak it these days!


  5. Are you back yet? Missed this post but worried it’s been almost a month since hearing from you!!


    1. Thank you for worrying about me. I did not post for three weeks due to my trip. But at about 9 pm last night I realized I had forgotten to post, so there is one there if you care to find it, about my trip to Spain. Next week: Madrid with pix!


  6. I’m new to this post, writing as a language teacher from Andalucia, southern Spain.
    I hope you had a wonderful linguistic experience, apart from our wonderful sangría and tapas!
    Regards. Marie.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s