I am terrible at languages.
I have tried to learn to speak Spanish well.
So far, I have failed. Maybe because of my dyslexia or something else.
Regardless, I am ready to find a solution. I want to speak Spanish better.
I have a plan to do that.
But first, I want to share my and my husband’s experiences with learning Spanish.
My Spanish ability is particularly maddening because my husband picks up languages so easily.
My husband Reyn’s ease of learning Spanish compared to mine was clear early on in our relationship.
A Trip South of the Rio Grande
Long ago, when we were first dating, we went to Mexico and Guatemala together.
At that time, my husband had never spoken Spanish. I had had plenty of opportunities to speak Spanish prior to our trip.
My Prior Experience With Spanish
Before taking our trip to Mexico and Guatemala, I had tried to learn Spanish.
- Several 1-2 week long trips to Mexico
- 2 travel Spanish courses at community colleges
- 10 weeks traveling in Spain
- 1 Month-long Spanish course in Malaga, Spain
I must admit, I took the class in Spain so I could hang out at the beach and still “be productive.” Unfortunately, I did not feel compelled to study. I was satisfied with the appearance of being productive. That was back when I thought being productive was important.
You would think I could speak Spanish by this point, if only alittle bit. And I could. But I was so afraid of getting it wrong that I rarely spoke.
Reyn’s Prior Experience With Spanish
Reyn read a Spanish phrase book on the airplane ride from Seattle to Mexico City.
That was his total Spanish language preparation. He had never taken a class or traveled in a Spanish-speaking country before.
Who Spoke More Spanish on The Trip?
When we arrived in Mexico City, Reyn knew maybe 15 words in Spanish.
But it didn’t stop him from immediately chatting with people.
Me? I took so long to carefully construct my perfect Spanish sentence that the person I was going to “chat” with had left before I’d even opened my mouth.
Reyn’s Spanish just kept getting better as we traveled.
He continually butchered the Spanish language with everyone he met. We ended up having many wonderful experiences because of his fearless approach to speaking Spanish.
Reyn Learns Spanish
About 6 weeks later, I went back to Seattle. I had to go back to my job.
Reyn stayed in Antiqua, Guatemala. Reyn had decided he loved Spanish and wanted to really learn how to speak it.
Reyn wouldn’t take classes at the many Spanish language schools in Antiqua. He said everyone who took those classes spoke English all the time with their classmates. He doubted they learned how to speak Spanish well. Having attended one of those schools in Spain, I would have to agree.
Reyn lived with a local family and hired not one, but two tutors. He studied there for four months. When he came back to the States he listened to Spanish radio, and ordered the El Pais newspaper from Spain.
His Spanish is now excellent. He would say that he still needs to work on it, but everyone compliments his Spanish.
My Spanish Breakthrough – of sorts
At the end of our trip, I still didn’t speak Spanish well.
Since then Reyn and I have traveled in Spain. We even hired Spanish tutors for a few weeks while we were in Granada, Spain.
I had a Spanish breakthrough in Spain. It was not from my tutor, but from a book, Instant Spanish. I write about it here.
I stopped carefully constructing my sentences before I spoke. I just started speaking. Not correctly but I was speaking. And my Spanish finally started to improve more quickly.
I had developed a more fearless approach to speaking Spanish.
Perhaps if I had kept speaking Spanish I would have progressed to speaking well. Instead I didn’t speak any significant amount of Spanish for 8 years.
Moved to Panama
That is when we moved to Panama. One of the reasons we chose Panama is because it is a Spanish speaking country. We both wanted our daughter to learn to speak Spanish well. Also, I didn’t want to start fresh learning a whole new language. It had taken me seemingly forever to get a grasp on Spanish.
After living in Panama for 8 years, my Spanish is better, but it is still not good. While we were traveling in Panama and setting up our life in Puerto Armuelles, my Spanish improved alot.
But these days, I spend most of my days immersed in English. I write posts like this one. I talk with my kids and husband, all in English. When I am in Panama I do speak Spanish everyday, but the proportion is low compared to English.
My husband still speaks more Spanish everyday than I do. I mostly stay at home. He has a local crew he works with on various projects, plus he is simply a more social person than I. He always chats with the grocery store cashier and the people he encounters in his day.
How To Improve My Spanish
I know life will be richer and more fun, if I can speak Spanish better.
The question is how to learn. The method must be fairly easy and not boring. I know I won’t do it if it takes too much time or is too hard.
Recently, technology has allowed an explosion of new & effective language tools. Everything from interactive recordings to being able to talk with a native speaker from any country you want.
But which one will make it relatively painless and easy for me? I have no idea.
Review of Spanish Language Programs & Options
I have heard good things about many of these new programs and options.
My plan is to test these programs myself. Then I will tell you want I think of them.
That way, maybe you too will find one that works for you.
The first 2 programs I am going to look at are:
If you want to check ’em out at the same time, they each have a free version of their program.
Free Versions of Spanish Programs
For a free trial of Rocket Language in Spanish, click here.
Fluent in 3 months is by Benny the Irish polygot. Click here to get his free “Speak in a Week” Spanish program.