Ever since we first started talking about going on a missions trip, we have been working on the language learning aspect. In the last several months, we have learned words in Spanish, Kyrgyz, Albanian, Swahili (Kenya), and Uzbek (Central Asia–used to teach how to learn a language at training) — usually hello, how are you, I’m fine, and thank you.
Since we determined we are going to Guatemala, we have been able to focus on Spanish, which is a good thing, as my brain seemed to go there anyway. I had several years of Spanish in high school and college, and when we were learning Uzbek at training, I found myself responding to questions in Spanish, rather than the Uzbek we had been taught. Apparently, my brain has an English mode and a foreign language mode. Hopefully, I’ll be able to expand that with more time as I’ll need to add a Kekchi mode in a year or so!
Anyway, I have been trying to teach the kids Spanish as part of school for the last several years, but have not been overly successful as it generally gets pushed out by other “more important” subjects. Finally, though, all those materials I’ve accumulated are coming in handy! Along with the story books and picture books we have, we have also been trying some free online courses and CD sets from the library. (We have tried an older copy of Rosetta Stone (the “gold standard” in language learning) but it is not a favorite here.) The current favorite method being used by the oldest three in the household is Duolingo; it can be used both online and as an Android app (which is installed on our phones and Kindle). Last night, the three of us were sitting around the living room all working on improving our Spanish. Daisy and Ted actually have a competition going; they continually go back and forth in the standings. Because of my previous Spanish learning, I have advanced a bit quicker than them and am competing with myself; though what I learned before is coming back pretty quickly, new words aren’t sticking so quickly. Although Duolingo doesn’t work on speaking very much, it at least gets the words and grammar in our brains. We have been trying to speak it with each other, usually resulting in a rather humorous version of Spanglish.
To help with the speaking and hearing the accent as well as to help Cub learn some words, we have also been listening to Spanish music. I have some CDs I’ve acquired over the years and youtube is also a wonderful resource. There are lots of Spanish worship songs there and today I discovered quite a few “Rey de Reyes for Kids” (King of Kings for Kids) videos which are fun and energetic; even Chimp is starting to sing along to a few that we have worked on. Daisy has even suggested this week that maybe Rosebud’s first words will be in Spanish! I think that’s rather a stretch, though I have been singing to her in Spanish when she’s been fussy the last couple days.
Bonus: A joke I came across today in the book How to Learn Any Language by Barry Farber
Two mice were hopelessly trapped. A hungry cat was poised to pounce. There was no escape.
At the last instant, one of the mice put his little paws up to his lips and yelled, “Bow-wow!”
The cat turned around and ran away.
Whereupon that mouse turned to the other mouse and said, “You see, that’s the advantage of knowing a second language!”