Sunday, 17 December 2017

Learning some Spanish the Duolingo way

This week has been marred by an attack of the condition that I will call woman-flu; not quite as bad as man-flu, but no fun at all.

One day I was on the beach with friends, playing with sticks and hunting for pebbles with faces; the next day I was tucked up in bed with a herbal tea and a headache.

Sea holly, Rye harbour

Up and down from day to day, missing parties and carol concerts, and not feeling well enough to do much more than listen to the radio, catch up with masterchef and learn some Spanish.

Spanish? I hear you say. 

Why Spanish, when your next trips are Canada and New Zealand?

Well, Spanish, because in 2018 my other half (OH) promises to do less work and to take me on a trip to Argentina to see some of the most amazing salt flats in the world.

And if we are to survive in Argentina I will need to be able to say more than 'hola'. 

OH will make do with gesticulating wildly in English, and expecting his arms to translate what his mouth is saying. 

I perfer to at least try to speak the local language.

So I am learning with a programme called Duolingo.

Completely free if one is willing to endure some extraordinarily bad video adverts between classes.

And I am, because they don't know that I am not actually watching them; I run off to have my shower, and when I get back my  bonus points are topped up, and I can get on with the next lesson.

OH thinks the only words that we need in any foreign country are 'bring me meat and beer, quick"

I know that this is not going to go down well, so I have been working towards a level of proficiency that allows me to say this in a more polite way.

It has taken a lot of lessons to get near this goal.

duolingo lesson

What language programme have you ever encountered that teaches the art of speaking about cleaning the oven before how to to order a cup of tea or coffee? Who are these people? Do they not know about oven cleaning companies?

First we had to discuss a need for carrots.

When does one ever 'need' carrots? 

Are we rabbits?

I need carrots


We are possessive rabbits.....

They are my carrots

So far, no use to anyone. None of these phrases are of any use for a tourist in Argentina. Or Spain for that matter.

I now know the words for priest, accountant and stepladder, but not coffee, tea, wine or beer. And certainly not a large medium rare steak with chips and salad on the side and a bottle of fine wine.

This is painfully slow.

But this week I finally learned some almost useful phrases.

 Substitute OH for Luis and we are away. 

 Yes! He always requires more food.

 I can just see myself saying this to a busy waiter. 

I am sure that eventually the polite way to ask for a table for two and a menu, por favor will crop up.

Meanwhile here is some really reassuring news;

I am normal

I shall find ways to slot this into conversations wherever I go.

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