Spanish, Russian, and the light of language-learning

Learning languages enlighten and bring light
Learning languages enlightens and brings light

As you know, Somali is my main pursuit these days. But I realized that I don’t think about pursuing my other languages at this point as any actual progress. Yet I have spoken Spanish every day, since we have a monolingual Spanish speaker staying at our house.

While I believe everyone should learn languages, monolinguals teach me so much. When I have to speak to them, I gain vocabulary and grammar so quickly. Our exchange student’s mom is staying with us, and she only speaks Spanish. I speak Spanish every day now. Without spending any time memorizing vocabulary, certain words are just sticking just so that conversation can continue.

Today, for example, I had to learn how to say “squirrel” (ardilla). Our friend takes our dog for a walk during the day when we’re at work. Evidently, the dog ate an “ardilla” on a walk. So this word gives me an involuntary desire to wretch.

We went to a restaurant for dinner. When I spoke about bistec on the menu, I got strange looks. I learned that in Spain, one speaks simply of “meat” (carne), and that bistec is used in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

After a nice weekend of sunshine, the weather turned unpleasant, so I’m using a lot of weather words. Because of the lluvia (“rain”) and frío (“cold”) and viento (“wind”), we haven’t spent a lot of time outside. Nevertheless, we looked at the beautiful crepúsculo (“dusk”) created by the cloud cover.

Grammar is worth it. I never really studied Spanish, and this week reminded me that it’s worth the effort. When I have to keep making up past tense verbs, I get tired of being misunderstood. It’s time to just sit down with some verb tables and just get the forms down.

Language podcasts this week

I heard a fascinating podcast this week about languages in Ukraine. It’s called, “What language does war speak in?” and addresses the perceptions around languages in today’s Ukraine, like Russian and the mixed Russian-Ukrainian dialect in Kiev. You can find it here: На каком языке говорит война? (in Russian)

Another great podcast episode came from Kris Broholm of “Actual Fluency.” Kris suffers from depression. During a particular dark period of his life, he discovered some on-line polyglots, and he found that learning languages offered him so many ways to cope with depression in a positive way. The most recent episode, “Depression and Language Learning” describes his dark slide into depression and the light that languages brought to his life.

How has your language learning gone this week? What does language learning do for you?

Photo credit: KoldGunder via / CC BY


2 thoughts on “Spanish, Russian, and the light of language-learning

  1. the light, indeed! Language learning is my primary source of entertainment these days (I don’t have cable TV and don’t watch that much English-language media). I consider the regular language learning activities I do as part of my ‘stay happy’ medicine– I don’t think I would do very well if I gave in to the pressure of saying I was “too busy”.

    I remember a friend saying that swimming was her thing– if she didn’t get her regular laps in at the pool, she found she caught more colds and simply found herself out of sorts. I also recall reading an article about a doctor studying Inuktitut: he said that “some people play golf, I study Inuktitut”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Shoulder the burden: Your language or mine? – Loving Language

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