I’m learning Spanish. I’m just beginning, but I’m quite pleased with my progress so far. A little bit each day, and this time next year, I’ll be able to ask where the bank is, order a cup of coffee with no milk, and tell people to seek independent legal advice when being offered a publishing deal with a subsidiary of a record label.
The system I’m using is called Duolingo, which has all sorts of things to recommend it. It works on written as well as spoken Spanish, it’s online, you learn at your own place, and it’s completely free.
The reason it’s free is because one of the side effects of learning the language is that you end up translating pieces of text as you go along, and those pieces of text are real world web content. The aim of the site is to use language learners to eventually translate the whole of the internet into as many major languages as possible.
It’s a really inspiring project – and well worth watching the video (above) in which they guy who invented it explains how he came up with the project.
You would think I should be learning Portuguese, what with all this stuff I’m doing in Brazil at the moment – and you might be right – but a) it’s not available using Duolingo yet (and I really love the Duolingo ethos – seriously, watch that video); and b) I’m also doing a lot of stuff with Spanish people and others in Latin America right now, and I had to make some sort of a choice.
I also promised my friends in Venezuela I’d make a bit of an effort.
Besides — lots of the Brazilian people I know get on okay with Spanish. But maybe Portuguese can be next. See how we get on.
In the meantime, el niño come una manzana.