Foreign languages are getting increasingly popular and they are getting ingrained in the educational systems. Various schools mold their students for the globalized world by teaching them a foreign language. It has stopped being a challenge or a bucket list thing you just do to experience something new, it is the new “normal”. Most schools in metropolitan cities normalize learning a new language, also highlighting the importance of doing so for each student. The crazy thing is that learning a new language can also inspire you to travel. Learning languages involves the act of knowing more about cultures and invokes the desire to immerse yourself in that culture.
I experienced this inspiration when I was learning Spanish
“Learning a new language also involves learning all about a new culture. New cultures inspire you to travel because travelling is all about knowing more than what you know. Learning a new language invokes a desire to travel”
General Notion: Learning a new language is just a bucket list thing to do. I will remove time for it when I’m done with work. I don’t have time to go to classes to learn. Too much travel time.
Reality: Most children at metropolitan schools have begun learning a foreign language. You are missing out on life if you don’t learn it. There is actually no travel time as you can learn at home itself, and that too without spending any money over the internet. All you need is dedication and curiosity.
[Notice: This shows how simple it is to learn a new language]
Many of us never got the opportunity to learn a language like Spanish, French or Mandarin at school and we now feel like we are missing out on life and lack foreign language skills which are very common. For those of you who realize that you are missing out, That’s fantastic! Realization has hit you and you have the curiosity. When I was learning Spanish, I receive what people call “culture-shocks”. For me culture shocks arise from ignorance of other cultures but they may not be scarring.
These culture shocks came to me because I was awed by all the amazing things (Sangria, tap dance, salsa, tacos) and experiences (Tomatina, Dia de los muertos, Navidad) that the Spanish culture had to offer. I was sad that I hadn’t explored it before. The shock was like the taste of a sour candy, it left me wanting more and it felt new. I learnt that the Spanish celebrate the “Day of the Dead” which involves coloring skulls and that is very weird when judged from our culture. These culture shocks made me want to go to Spain and explore more about their background and tradition. The curiosity to explore about culture and lifestyle boosted my learning and intercultural experience.
Their traditions and lifestyle
There is a male gender bias even when we speak Spanish. That spoke a lot about Spanish traditions. If there is a gang of women and only a single male, they will use the male pronoun equivalent of “he” to show their bias. They even give importance to the gender of non-living objects like the noun house is a female and the noun for jeans is male. I learnt about their party and food lifestyle. I also read up more about festivals like the Tomatina and Day of the dead which they celebrate. All these interesting facts made me google and learn more about their culture. Spain has given a lot to the world including salsa, tap dance, the Spanish guitar and tacos.
It felt amazing to explore that culture as my own and understand that though we are separated by boundaries, we are all actually very similar in terms of how we feel. Much like India, in Spain as well, the idea of a joint family is crystallized and that surprised me. The coca leaf is considered to be holy in Spanish speaking countries like Cuba. The coca leaf is also used to make Marijuana which is an illegal drug, but is used for gifting purposes in Cuba. The idea of gifting drugs seemed to be funny to me but also intrigued me tremendously. I was inspired to go backpacking across Spain and see all this for myself." The idea of interacting with locals and knowing more about their culture intrigued me."
[Note: When you try to learn the language, try to find things about their culture and explain that in Spanish. It is always good to note down all theories and new words in a book. You can start by making your own translation dictionary with words you learn.]
Food, places to explore and History
Learning Spanish involved learning the pronunciation of different foods. As I did this, I also explored different food in Spain and what the food was made of. This exploration was enough me make me crave the Sangria, Tapas, Empanadas, Dulces(chocolates), Pasteles(Pastries), Gazpacho(Spanish soup) or their Paella(A rice dish with lots of meat). Learning a new language had also set me craving new food. I learnt to order food in Spanish and give descriptions about the food I liked. "I craved to go to a Spanish speaking country to explore their food first hand though I am a vegetarian. I feel like my palate has gone bland after trying so many delicacies, I’d now like to try some food which I have never tried before."
I also started googling places touristic places in Spanish countries and curiosity led me towards Geography of the Spanish speaking world. I realized that there was a lot to see like Costa Rican waterfalls, the party city of Mexico, beaches in Costa Puerto, the hilly regions in Spain and Argentina. I wanted to backpack across all these places and see more. Through this, I also learnt the Spanish translations of hills, mountains, oceans and other natural bodies. I learn to give directions in Spanish and learnt to speak about places in Spanish.
I think curiosity was a major teacher. I started googling Spanish History and learnt about Che Guevara, and learnt to give descriptions about facial features and speak in the past tense.
I hence learnt parts of Spanish when needed and that boosted my learning and application. "As I learnt more about the places, all I wanted to do was to see them!"
Exploring Spanish works of art
I explored works of art by Salvador Dali and attempted to describe them in Spanish. Exploring Spanish music by famous pop artist Enrique Iglesias was also an amazing experience. I tried to memorize the lyrics and their meanings to hasten the learning process. I also watched Spanish movies like “The motorcycle diaries” with English subtitles to understand Spanish pronunciation and learn about the Spanish revolution. [Note: It is fun to learn through music and it helps in boosting memory]
Imagine going to an art museum in Spain!
“Learning a new language somehow gives you the opportunity to be a new person in a new land. You have the chance to not only speak another language but also to dive into a foreign culture and explore it as if it were your own. Somewhere between the moments when you stammer and think to fill in the gaps, you realize the strength of the moment where you have transformed and are a part of globalization.”
Let me break it to you, you can sit at home and learn the language in your free time without paying anything. All you need is internet and the dedication to learn. Now that you have seen how language can inspire you to travel, all you travel freaks shall know how easy it is to learn a new language.
Below is a short guide to learning Spanish easily and for free.
Never use google translate
Google translate generally gives you wrong translations of complicated sentences or paragraphs. You will not learn a lot by simply translating sentences on google because Spanish sentences are complicated and there are many tenses. You should instead learn more about sentence construction in Spanish first and then apply that to different words to build sentences. Use Word Reference to translate particular words and use them. This improves sentence formation. [Go slow: Don’t jump to learn sentences. Start by learning words of verbs, adjectives and nouns]
Use YouTube Videos
YouTube has amazing videos that teach you Spanish and help you to learn about conjugations and tenses. Senor Jordon or “El tontito frito” has the best video series on YouTube that starts from basics and builds up to advance level concepts. His videos go slow and he explains every concept with the detail required. They also range over many different topics like food, location and descriptions and are worth taking a look at.
Here’s a link to his introductory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27PqTadLJx0
BBC language learning, Mi Vida Loca
Technology really has gone far. This free web learning series for Spanish is set in the heart of Spain, Madrid itself. It is an interactive story where a woman arrives alone in Spain and she does not know to speak in Spanish. It is interactive as she learns to speak in Spanish slowly as you learn as well. Her interactions with the world around her actually represent your interactions with the Spanish world. You get to learn Spanish, roam around Spain virtually using their videos and explore Spanish culture at its best.
Here’s a link to this interactive portal: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/mividaloca/
Muzzy and other cartoons
Amazingly, you get the chance to be a child again and watch cartoons with Spanish subtitles. Subtitles enable you to learn the words easily. Also, this cartoon Muzzy in specific is intended to teach language and words. Other cartoons like Dora the explorer in Spanish are also available.
Here’s a link to Muzzy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH0cqYrkK68
Stop lying to yourself
Are you excited to go backpacking across the country or learn basic Spanish? So you see it’s not as hard as you thought. If you don’t agree with me now, then you are simply lying to yourself.
This guide simply shows that learning a new language is easier than you thought and it is an adventurous and explorative process if you choose to make it that way. So switch tabs, start exploring more about different cultures and expand knowledge in different areas. As I said, all you need is the internet and a little bit of curiosity!
PS: I hope I can go to Spain soon to explore all that I learnt for real.