5 Reasons You’ll Love Learning Spanish Language and Culture: 5 Months Under Immersion

Spanish language and culture - one guiri to another

This guiri has a lot to answer for…

Hola a todos, welcome to another progress report! This one’s coming to your lovely luminous eyes exactly five months after first beginning my Spanish language and culture mission. I’m delighted to report I’ve been making some major progress of late – holding my own in some really in-depth conversations and having the most cojonudo (kick-ass) of times here in Andalusia.

This morning I kicked off the day by bathing my pale English bodice in the warm thermal pools of Sante Fe, watching dawn break in the company of friends – both of the local and foreign variety. Times are good indeed. Reflecting back on the very first day I arrived here and seeing how far I’ve come felt very good indeed -especially as the warm water lapped against my sex organs (perhaps that’s a little too much information there!)

Anyway, I’ve decided to change up the nature of my progress reports in an attempt to be more encouraging of your own attempts in learning the Spanish language and culture. Instead of giving you the same old report detailing what I’ve been doing to improve and learn, I want to try and give a bit more away and throw more passion into trying to persuade you all to do the same – in whatever language you choose.

So let’s start this series of by specifying exactly why I think everyone should learn this language. Spanish has certainly changed my life, what’s to say it won’t change yours?

Onward with the list.

5 Reasons You’ll Love Learning Spanish Language and Culture

If you asked me 4.5 months ago how I felt about learning Spanish, well you probably wouldn’t get a list like this. I don’t want to pretend that this has been an easy ride, far from it, but sticking with it, with diligence, is paying off leaps and bounds.You may even want to find a tutor in Spanish.

Here’s what I’ve discovered I’ve loved the most from my time studying. Hopefully you’ll find the same.

Using Palabrotas (Swear Words)

It seems that using bad language in Spanish is far more commonplace than in English and that a polla (cock) here and a coño (c*nt) there really is the norm between people speaking in informal environments (and even formal!) Not being able to do this in British English (well, I sometimes get away with it on this site), I get a lot of pleasure out of using these words, and do it with a rebellious little glint in my eye every time. It’s like being a young kid discovering bad words all over again!

The Rhythm

For me there’s something very enchanting about the rhythm, pace and volume Spanish is spoken at. Coming from a very repressed environment, where it’s often frowned upon to really shout or express yourself, this has proved a really refreshing thing in Spanish language and culture – especially as the only time it’s really acceptable to really give it your all in English is at times of fury. In Spanish people seem to get animated over even the most mundane of things, like ordering fruit or browsing through bread in a panaderia (bakery) or just singing at the top of their lungs in the middle of the street. Los locos!

Art of Conversation

It’s kind of a double-edged sword – and something I like and hate in equal measure – but the Spanish love to conduct business face to face.  Constantly they ditch text messages for calls, email chat for Skype and are very suspicious of people who don’t represent themselves in person to potential employers. The art of conversation I often feel technology is killing in Britain? Well and truly alive in Spain – and don’t I just love shooting the shit over a quick phone call or two.

The Phrasing

Flicking through Spanish literature (and especially newspapers) is always one of my favourite parts of the day due to the opportunity to learn new and interesting phrases that sound funny when you translate them into English. Just the other day I was flicking through Marca – yes, my guilty pleasure – when I saw the phrase “Cristiano Ronaldo, el crack de Madrid” (Cristiana Ronaldo, the best player for Madrid). Then there’s the mountain of phrases that revolve around the verb “dar” (to give) too. Like “dar la lata”  (give a tin – “be a pain”) and “dar de narices” (give nostrils – “fall flat on ones face”). A weird but extremely cool part of learning the Spanish language and culture!

The Popularity

As more and more of the English-speaking world cottons on to the fact that Spanish is growing more important each day (thanks to the economic rise of South America), there’s no shortage of people to practice with. Just take a look at my latest progress video where I chat to a fellow foreign learner and have just as much fun doing so. Knowing that the language I’m learning is going to be invaluable throughout the course of my life makes me love it even more.

If you’ve got an inkling to learn a new language, hopefully I’ve helped demonstrate just why I think Spanish would be a very cool one to start with!

On to the progress report!

Progress Report – 20 Weeks of Immersion

Check out my progress speaking with the very lovely Erica above. Here you can see two non-natives speaking about life in Spain, learning the language, culture and more.

Last fortnight I set myself the following learning goals. Did I see them through?

1. Do all English-language based work with Spanish music/radio in the background
Did a sterling job completing this and really improved my comprehension as a result. Achieved? Done

2. Read each day and register 10 new words in Anki to practice directly afterward
Did a fair bit of reading (at least half an hour each day) and learnt a shed load of vocabulary and phrases in the process. Achieved? Done

3. Continue with Intercambios and have at least 3 sessions per week
Granada has no shortage of opportunities for intercambios – and although I  didn’t attend 3 each week I still received just as much practice talking with my housemates. Achieved? Done

4. Introduce myself to one random person each day for the sake of practice and a comfort-zone challenge
Definitely met a lot of new people and sparked up conversations. Pleased with my progress in this field – especially as I’d been slacking in previous months. Achieved? Done

5. Start a Spanish writing blog and write 200-250 words about myself in Spanish (with a link to this website) each day.
Still haven’t done this but my housemate has kindly offered to do a “notes swap” each day where we’ll write to each other in our target languages and correct our mistakes. Achieved? Fail

6. Leave random notes in Spanish about myself and my site in every bar and pub I visit in Granada
Backed out of doing this as I always find myself in places without a notepad and pen. But I do now have business cards that I expect to leave around and hopefully stoke up some interest in this blog. Achieved? Fail

One month back after my Christmas break and I’m not doing too badly moving closer to mastering Spanish language and culture. I’m keeping up the same goals for the next fortnight but throwing in a grammar chapter so I can nail that nasty subjunctive once and for all.

Here are the goals for the next progress report:

1. Do all English-language based work with Spanish music/radio in the background

2. Read each day and register 10 new words in Anki to practice directly afterward

3. Start exchanging Spanish notes with my housemate and get her to correct my errors every day.

4. Leave business cards with a message in every bar and pub I visit in Granada.

5. Complete one Grammar chapter on the subjunctive tense from Demystifying Spanish Grammar by Brandan Simpson.

That’s it! See you guys in a fortnight and don’t forget to keep pushing forward on your Spanish language and culture goals!

18 Responses to 5 Reasons You’ll Love Learning Spanish Language and Culture: 5 Months Under Immersion

  1. Mo February 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Want to romper una lanza in favour of the word “cunt”. It´s become dirty but (and as I´m working into my novel) it wasn´t to begin with and should be respected. I think it´s fundamentally feminist to draw attention to this word and rehabilitate it. See the Irish Sheena na gig with the open vulva as a symbol of female power and fertility when women decided what to do with their own bodies and sexuality and not a bunch of cross-dressing clerics in matching fuschia dress and hat. So Will, no asterisks please!

    • Will February 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      @Mo! I did it for my mum and other women who might not quite feel the same way as your liberal self (although I heartily agree with you!)

    • Diana taylor February 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      what a wonderful experience, to live and learn in Spain ! I planniing to do a language interchange this summer but i’m not so sure where should i live in Madrid … i already looked up places to arrange a vacation rental but i don’t know which neighborhood is the best to live .. Can you give me a advice ? thanks a lot!!!

      • Will February 14, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

        @Diane Thanks so much for your kind words Diane! I’d say head to areas of Spain where you won’t likely find many English speakers: Castile y Leon, Andalusia and the inland regions might be good choices. It depends what you want to get out of the experience. Shoot me an email if you like and I’ll be glad to help you out a bit more!

        • Diana taylor February 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

          thanks for the advice ! I’ll look up the places you mentioned, if i have futher doubts I’ll surely contact you ! thanks again!

          • Will February 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

            @Diana Taylor Feel free! I’ll be travelling around more so just let me know!

      • Carmen March 9, 2012 at 11:46 am #

        Yo soy de Madrid y para mi uno de los mejores barrios es Argüelles (yo vivo allí), esta cerca de la Universidad y hay muchos pisos en la zona que se alquilan a estudiantes, asi que hay gente joven. Esta muy cerca de zonas donde salir pero a la vez es un barrio tranquilo. El barrio de Malasaña también esta bien (más moderno que el anterior y con mucha vida). El barrio de los Austrias, muy bohemio. No sé, Madrid no es una ciudad peligrosa.
        Espero haberte servido de ayuda.

  2. Amber February 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Great article and very inspiring to read of the goals you are setting and achieving. I’ve recently started up an intercambio in Almeria and it’s becoming quite popular, especially with Spanish people.

    • Will February 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

      @Amber Thanks Amber! Glad to see you’re starting out in the world of intercambios too. They’ve been bloody useful for me I have to say! Keep it going – I might even pop in there myself one day!

  3. Mike Stone February 29, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    I am about to go to Chile for a 5 month quest for Spanish. I read your comments an I feel inspired. Al tiro voy a poder hablar Chileon, weon. SI alguien quiere aprender Chileno, estoy pensando en crear un blog sobre el idioma que se habla en Chile. Suan bien?

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