The very first picture we ever took of Sherman, our motorhome. Ten years ago today. Photo taken August 19, 2007.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Cabri Regional Park, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Where are they going next? Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on September 25th!

Monday, May 29, 2017

The older you get, the more difficult it is...

While that sentence applies to a lot of things, this particular time I'm talking about learning a new language.

When we were kids here in Canada, we took French in school. But it was very basic. I think we got 20 minutes per day (or something like that) in grades 1 through 8, and that increased to 40 minutes per day in high school.

But in high school, French became optional. I took French in grade 9, but failed miserably. I never took French again.

Ruth, on the other hand, did quite well in high school French, even winning an award somewhere along the way. Then, she lived in Quebec with a French speaking family for three months while she did the volunteer Katimavik program here in Canada.

My younger sister was one of the first to begin full time French immersion in public school. She was 4 years behind me, and that's when the immersion program began. She was lucky in that aspect and she stuck with it and even now I think now her French is serviceable.

But, if you don't use it, you lose it... as they say. And so Ruth's French steadily disappeared until we started learning Spanish in late 2007. Then, when she tried to speak Spanish, French would often come out by accident!

Now, our Spanish is serviceable, but it still doesn't come naturally. We have to constantly think about it, and I have a hard time not translating into English in my head while I'm listening to someone speaking in Spanish. It's improving all the time, but I would have thought that after 10 years of practice that we would be better than we are. Of course the problem is that we only use it regularly for maximum five months out of the year... and sometimes as little as two or three months.

So, we're trying to keep learning during our Spanish off season time up here in Canada. We found a website that has a video series of 52 half hour episodes. It's a little dated now, but it's helpful nonetheless.

For those of you interesting in learning, here's the website.

http://www.learner.org/series/destinos/

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20 comments:

  1. Why not speak Spanish and French to on another? Even though I'm Native American, English was my first language and I learned Navajo later from my parents and other relatives speaking it. We were not allowed to speak our language in boarding schools. Anyway, I found speaking it to my sisters while talking on the phone or when we're together has help us retain the language. I do not have trouble with translation back and forth from English to Navajo and vice versa.

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    1. Sspeaking Spanish or French between ourselves doesn't really help a lot, we can do it with sentences and words we know but we can't really learn new stuff. Also you don't know if you are saying it right, either pronunciation or if you have the sentence put together correctly with the right verb conjugation and tense. Once we are more adapt at that, then it is a different story.

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  2. We have that intex blow up bed, used it when we took possession of our house five years ago when our furniture was not coming for a few weeks. We still use it as a spare bed when extra kids show up, I highly recommend it. I know no second language, only a few words of this and that but Spanish is the one language I would like to learn, so useful in all the countries I love.

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    1. Good to hear about the blow up bed. We have had just their blow up mattresses for tent camping and have like them.

      Keep working at the Spanish and it will get better, we know because we are working on it too! :-)

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  3. we downloaded Duolingo on our smart phone - it is free. Sharon is learning French and I am learning Spanish and Italian... it is basic but pretty dang good overall

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    1. We have heard of Duolingo but have never tried it, Kevin now has it on his phone. We do have a Berlitz Spanish learning program that we have used but we have to make a point of doing it on a regular basis and we are definitely making more of an effort this summer, hopefully it will pay off. Good luck with your languages, I can't imagine trying to learn two together, I would get too confused.

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    2. I've been doing Duolingo for 527 straight days now and just achieved Level 25 (the highest) in Spanish yesterday.

      Does that mean I am fluent? Not by a long shot. I agree as one gets older, you lose the short and medium term memory thats necessary to learn new words. I know I learned that word last week, but I already forgot what it means.

      Also, Duolingo teaches very basic Spanish, and only emphasizes reading and writing, at least on Android. I so want the conversational bots that only iPhone users enjoy. But not enough to get an iPhone lol.

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    3. Thanks for your insight on the Duolingo program. Kevin is already working on it and I am going to be too. I also have the Berlitz program and listen to some of the conversational stuff on my MP3 player as I am working around the campground. We know lots of words so for us it is important to learn how to put all those words together properly in a sentence. The biggest issue is the conjugation of the verbs and the past, present and future tenses. We will keep plugging away at it and hopefully we will find an improvement over the summer and then put it all to work in Mexico this winter.

      Keep working away at it too Doug, it will pay off in the end. :-)

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  4. Beautiful header picture! Yes it takes work to keep a second language fluency. I speak German and it always takes a few weeks to get up to speed if I'm not using it regularly. I found my school French was a big help in Spanish speaking countries too.

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    1. Thanks Ester, we loved the beautiful mountain scenery in Colombia. :-)

      It definitely takes work at a second language, I know I am kicking myself for not keeping my French up. I know that if we went anywhere where French is the dominant language and stayed for a while, not just a week or two then it would start coming back, I even noticed it a little with the short time we stayed in Morocco. Yep, we find that the French has helped a lot with our Spanish, the words are different but the sentence structure is similar.

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  5. I am lucky enought to have a better half who speaks a number languages:)

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    1. You are lucky, good for Anneke! :-)

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  6. We learned a fair bit of Spanish when we went to Mexico and helped, I found some of it similar to the high school French I learned. But now with my hearing impairment I have trouble understanding English, hmmm.. Yup the older I get the more difficult it is.

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    1. That is how we learned our Spanish, just by going to Mexico and working at it. Every year we go, we learn more. We try to stay away from the touristy areas, that way we have to use our Spanish because once you are outside of the tourist area less English is spoken and it then forces you to use and learn more Spanish. Yes, it would be even harder when hearing is a problem.

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  7. Don't feel bad, I'm having enough trouble with English. ;c)

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    1. That would make two of us because some days I get my mords wixed up! ;-)

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  8. Paul and I were trying to relearn Spanish before we went to MX this past winter. Well, that didn't go well. Unless we could practice it with a "real" Spanish speaking person, we had no idea if we were pronouncing the words correctly or even using the right word.

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    1. We agree, that it is difficult to try to practice between yourselves when you are learning. Kevin and I do not bad with our Spanish but trying to talk between ourselves is hard because as you say, there is no one there to tell you if you are making a mistake or not. We will keep practicing with the programs we have at the moment at least it will help but when we get to Mexico is when we will be able to practice properly.

      We have even thought about going somewhere in November that will have a Spanish course where we can stay with a family and work at it even more.

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  9. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, is how the saying goes. My brain is already cluttered with lots of years of living, and learning a new language right now is more than I'd want to tackle. It's nice that phones now have a language translator app, for dolts like me. Ya know?

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    1. We don't believe in that saying, I think old dogs can learn new tricks, it just takes us a lot longer, lol!

      It is true, our brains are full with information and the stuff that is there longer is easier to remember sometimes than some of the newer stuff but if you keep at it, it will eventually improve. Those translator apps are good but they make you lazy because you then don't really need to try and that is part of the problem, you need to try to work at it. All good things come with time! :-)

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