After years of talking about it, I finally bit the bullet and purchased Rosetta Stone around the New Year. I have a minor in Spanish (earned a decade ago, however) and studied Spanish during a summer abroad program in Spain (even longer ago). But let's just say my Spanish language skills weren't stellar back then, and they certainly aren't now.
One of my goals for 2014 is to improve upon my Spanish language proficiency, across all spectrums of communication, such as speaking, reading, and so forth, in hopes of traveling abroad to Latin America or Spain later this year. Also, I'm having more and more opportunities these days in which speaking and reading Spanish well would benefit me in my job, so hence Rosetta Stone.
I started the language learning software earlier this week – at the beginning, Level 1, Unit 1, Lesson 1 – and have been diligently practicing every day. Holy mackerel has it been repetitive. I must've said, read, and heard the word "niño" a million times, and pointed to a little boy eating an apple, or swimming, or reading a book, another hundred million. But each lesson builds on the previous, and I'm glad I'm revisiting the basics and mastering them before I move on to more complicated lessons – It's all building blocks, right? And I'm finding that the more time I spend deep in the Spanish language, the more I appreciate its beauty – the way it feels to have an rrrr roll off my tongue, and hear the sharp, throaty note of the j sound in una mujer, and recognize the connection happening in my brain – literally, sometimes I think I can feel it! – when I correctly match a word on the screen with a corresponding image. I find myself reveling in the loveliness of the Spanish language.
But I'll admit, diving into this language-learning software has made me question English language skills as well. There is someone in my life who is insanely articulate – it's borderline intimidating to have a conversation with her. She's witty, always a symphony of perfect, image-conjuring words. English is my first language, and a lot of the time it's not that she's using words I've never heard before, or in which I can't understand the context – It's that she just uses them so artfully.
How am I building my arsenal of English words, and growing in my ability to use them effectively? Reading! So I'd love to know – what are some pieces of text that you've read lately that've challenged you, either in content/subject matter itself, or in the difficulty of diction, or in other ways language was used on the page? Here, I'll start, with a poem by the brilliant Mary Oliver – I adore the line, "the broken cupboard of the clam" !