In January, I declared 2014 the year of all things Spanish. Spanish authors, Spanish restaurants, Spanish wines. My goal was to immerse myself as much as possible in anticipation of a bunch of trips throughout the Spanish-speaking world. My first visit to South America went off without a hitch in February with an awesome week in Colombia. I’m supposed to be in Spain right now, but that hasn’t worked out. What’s more, I’m starting to wonder about the fate of my June trip to Ecuador – I’m scheduled to volunteer in an orphanage in Quito for a few weeks and then go diving in the Galápagos. With things with my grandpa up in the air, I just don’t see that happening.
I’m really glad to be here with my grandfather, but sticking to my plan of “relearning” Spanish has provided a very welcome distraction. Like a lot of people, I took it in secondary school, but haven’t done much of anything with it since. I’ve been catching up using the incredible (and FREE!) app Duolingo. The app features a handful of languages – Spanish, Italian, French, German and Portuguese. (Fingers crossed they add some non-Western ones soon!) It’s a very Rosetta-stone approach and although it doesn’t seem as thorough as the 5-level Rosetta box set, it won’t set you back $350 either.
Duolingo has a clean, easy interface, with just enough competitiveness to keep you on your toes and just enough redundancy to make sure things are sticking. You can set daily goals for yourself and reminders to practice – I do about a half an hour a day, usually broken up into a 3-5 sittings. I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in brushing up before a big trip or just learning a language from scratch for the hell of it.