Having spent the first month or so of the past 2 years in Central & South America I’ve now been able to immerse myself in the Spanish language quite a lot, but it wasn’t until my return visit earlier this year that I was able to see how much my Spanish has improved.
I remember two years ago in Peru before I’d started using Rosetta Stone confidently striding up to a taxi driver and giving him my desired destination.
‘Hang on, did he say 5 dollars or 15 dollars?’
It’s all very well being a confident traveller, but if you’re unable to communicate even the most basic of words you’ll find your travels a lot more complicated.
So what has learning Spanish with Rosetta Stone allowed me to do? Firstly it’s actually contributed to my safety whilst on my travels. In Ecuador last year the dreaded night bus I was travelling on crashed off the road smashing all the windows out and certainly unnerving most of the passengers. Luckily having learnt some of the language by that point I was able to communicate with the driver to check if he was OK, as well as discussing in fairly simple terms, what we were to do next. Equally being able to ask for directions and bus times has meant that when hopping from bus to bus I’ve been able to make connections on time and not put myself potentially at risk by missing departures and ending up stranded at a remote terminal.
On a lighter note, many of the places I’ve visited have provided guides that are Spanish speaking only, and I’ve been delighted to find out that I can now understand enough to not be completely clueless as to what’s being explained to me. In Honduras, I visited a Butterfly Park in Copan Ruinas and was able to mostly follow the story of the lifecycle of a butterfly to my great surprise. Clearly this particular topic isn’t something directly covered in my Rosetta Stone course but I was able to transfer the language skills I’d learnt and recognise certain words, verbs, and sentence formations to be able to understand.
Finally and possibly the most enjoyable of all, I’ve been able to form new friendships and have more meaningful interactions with people. Some of these may be fleeting, a question, a brief chat or a joke with someone at a market or a day trip with other tourists where I’ve actually been able to have a conversation. Some have been more meaningful, on a recent trip to Kerala I was travelling with a group of other bloggers and a boy from Argentina joined us. He couldn’t speak any English which emerged as the international language and he found he felt left out. I was able to involve him in conversations by helping to translate and make the trip more enjoyable for him which felt quite rewarding.
Learning a new language has generally been rewarding for me, as adults, we don’t often learn such big new skills as frequently and it is proving to be a fun and challenging experience.
Alex Outhwaite is a TV Presenter & Blogger at http://www.alifewelltravelled.co.uk
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