Spanish

I’ve always had a desire to be multilingual, but I’ve never had an easy time of learning another language. I took three years of French in high school, earning solid C’s the entire time. About the only things I learned (that I still know) are pronounciation and numbers. Given a written word in French, I can usually pronounce it correctly, although I don’t know what it means. And if I tried, I could probably still count to one hundred.

While in college, I worked part-time for QVC in an inbound call center, taking orders for items sold on television. There were a few (bilingual) Spanish-speaking employees, and they would take calls from Spanish-speaking customers. I think they even made a little more money. I thought this was pretty cool, so I bought some Spanish tapes at the book store. A few weeks later, I had put the tapes aside. I still didn’t speak Spanish.

Fast forward several years, to around 1997. I was at the local library, browsing for something intersting while my kids looked for books. Walking from the general fiction section to the children’s section took me right through the audio section. Glancing at the shelves, I noticed a fairly large binder that caught my eye. It was the cassette version of Pimsleur’s Quick & Simple Russian. At the time I had a 45-60 minute commute to and from work, and thought this would be a great way to pass some time behind the wheel.

If you are not familiar with Pimsleur Language Courses, they are probably different than any other language instruction you have had. They are based almost entirely on listening and responding to audio instruction, with practically no book work. For most languages there are three courses (I, II, III), each containing thirty 30-minute lessons. The Quick & Simple course I had borrowed from the library was just the first 8 lessons from the Russian I course – not enough to be of any real use. It seems that the Quick & Simple courses are just a marketing ploy by Simon & Schuster (who now own the Pimsleur material), to put an inexpensive product in bookstores to get interest in the full products. This is necessary because the full Pimsleur courses list for about US $350.00.

Although the 8 lessons I borrowed from the library were not enough to teach me very much Russian, I was amazed at how well I picked up the language. The Pimsleur method worked extremely well, and I found that my pronounciation was very close to that of the native speakers on the tapes. I enjoyed learning a lanuguage much more easily that I had before. I considered getting the full courses, but was stopped by the price tag.

Fast forward again, to last year. At my local mega-bookstore, the foreign language instruction section is directly between the front door and the Computer section. Passing through it as I often had, I decided to browse. My daughter takes Spanish in school, so I decided to have a look at the Spanish section. I ended up buying Pimsleur Instant Conversation Spanish, which is the first 16 lessons of Spanish I. I listened to them in my car, and enjoyed them, but never quite got around to buying the full Spanish I course.

As busy as I’ve been lately, I’ve been looking for things to do to relax that don’t take much time. Since I’m in the car an hour each day anyway (commute), I pulled out my Spanish CDs again a couple of weeks ago. I’ve enjoyed it so much I finally purchased the full Spanish I course, from eBay, for about $150. I’ll probably sell it when I’m done, and purchase the Spanish II course. I’d really like to continue with the study this time, and truly learn Spanish. To this end, I’ve added this new category to my blog, where I’ll record relevant links, observations on learning Spanish, reviews of learning materials, etc. Maybe I’ll even post a few entries in Spanish; although if I decide to try that I may create a separate blog.

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