By Brooke Gazer
If you spend a significant amount of time in Mexico, the effort required to learn how to converse in Spanish will be well rewarded. It’s a sign of respect and you´d be surprised how willing locals are to accommodate you, even if you butcher their language. In my experience, Mexicans who speak English don’t mind letting you make a fool of yourself as you struggle to communicate in Spanish. They’re amazingly patient.
For those of us who didn’t begin learning Spanish until we were practically over the hill, this is a steep learning curve. I spent many torturous days drilling irregular preterite verbs, and although I still might not get them correct, I’ve moved on. Unfortunately, many people get so bogged down on this tedious aspect, that they never reach a point where they can make a useful sentence. Help is on the way…
An expat has put together a series of short videos that don’t focus on conjugating verbs. As Q Roo Paul puts it, “You’re not preparing for a Spanish exam, you just want to function in Mexico.” These are in bite-sized pieces under 10 minutes long, focusing specifically on things useful to people living here.
In lesson 1 he reviews the Spanish vowel sounds because this is where a lot of us fall short. Then he demonstrates how these vowel sounds are different in Spanish than in English, while developing your vocabulary with words you already know. These are called cognates and there are about 1500 of them. They are easy to recognize so, with a short investment of time, you’re on your way to speaking Spanish.
The goal is to help you make your own sentences, and as the lessons progress, he teaches “plug and play” phrases. These are something that expats can use in a variety of situations by mastering a few important verbs. He explains that many things can’t be translated exactly, giving you the “equivalent” of what you would say in English, and pointing out what common errors English speakers make.
It is easy to stop the video to practice, and he speaks slowly enough that you can really hear those vowels and consonants. My level has surpassed his first twenty lessons, but personally, I found they were a great review, they helped me to improve my pronunciation, and I have incorporated a couple of his useful phrases into my repertoire.
Here is the link http://qroo.us/spanish-lessons-for-beginners. It’s free and the animated cartoon form is lighthearted. Each lesson builds on the next, so even if you have studied previously, you might want to start with lesson 1. Unlike some online courses, this one does not require you to master each lesson before moving forward. This is not about perfection, it’s about getting out there and hablando Español.
Brooke Gazer operates an ocean-view bed and breakfast in Huatulco, Agua Azul la Villa: http://www.bbaguaazul.com