Only Mad Dogs & Englishmen

Eventually I will get round to writing a proper blog post. I’ve been meaning to for days, but there’s always something else to do, like swim in the pool or read my book, or yell at the kids when they splash water on me…

However, I have realised that I am picking up the language. We have been to a market, out for dinner and even talked to locals (including asking if people have maps and where we were! Oops). And using the things I learnt before we arrived, I’m combining the new words I’m learning and actually being understood (even if I am recognised as English as soon as I speak!).

One thing I will say though is that I am thoroughly unimpressed with the ex-pat community here. Valencia is a beautiful region and I am loving all the new sights, sounds and smells, but my goodness what is wrong with the English here? They’ve built whole plazas which only contain British (northern) style food, Irish pubs and created a stubborn attitude not to use the native language (suffice to say, we are avoiding those areas where we can).

I will do a proper ‘how amazing is it here’ blog soon, but the sun is calling and I have an argument with a map planned!

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Soy Borracho! And other inappropriate phrases I announce proudly in the car…

You probably know that I’m making the most of my commute back and forth to work by trying to learn Spanish.

Well, so far I’ve gone through all 12 hours of the Paul Noble course (more than once!) and am really starting to find my feet (¿Dónde están mis pies?) and it’s now time for me to move on so I’m using up all my audible credits on trying the first few hours of the Michael Thomas programme. It’s a very similar approach, but instead of the pauses for me to speak followed by a native speaker, I’m in a car with Michael who babbles on about grammar and emphasis whilst two inept people with weird accents try to learn Spanish badly. I think this is some clever ploy to make me feel ok when I cock the phrases up totally, and feel smug when I know what to say and the bloke on the audio thing is stuttering over simple words like puedo (that’s pwaaaaaaaydo). This audiobook is playing up to my ego, and it’s working. Even more brilliantly, the kids are already picking up phrases and using their dictionary to work out how to communicate.

It’s now t-minus 10 days until we jump in at the Spanish deep end and llegar a Villamartin! The bags are out and the packing has commenced. Mum and Dad are being instructed on how to feed the monster fish and I think they’re quite looking forward to us being out of the house for a while.

Greenpeace may need prior warning that I shall be snorkelling and have staunchly refused to go on a holiday diet. LSH however has just dipped below 100kg for the first time in a decade and is looking mighty hot after spending the last 6 months worshipping the treadmill and weight machines. Well, bollocks to that, I am embracing Health & Safety by becoming my own floatation device. Several family members are raving about the new Fast diet (you restrict your intake to 500 calories for 2 days each week), and their weight loss is quite impressive, but mentally I’m not there yet. I know I could do it, but witnessing the familiar rush that fasting is giving them I’m not willing to step into dangerous eating habit territory again. I’ve been skinny to dangerous levels in the past, and frankly I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and depressed. I know what skinny feels like – it feels hungry. And for the record, chips taste better than skinny, especially with cheese and salad cream.

Back to the language course! I’m definitely enjoying the Michael Thomas course, and whilst it is more expensive (a lot!) than Paul Noble, the vocabulary is wider and I feel like I understand why I’m saying things now. With that said, I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it had I not done the Paul Noble course first with its clearer structure and native speakers. There’s so much out there to help you learn, and I guess it’s whatever works for you. But having reached 33 convinced I couldn’t learn a new language as I am crap at languages I’ve found that actually puedo hablar español, I just hadn’t worked put the best way to learn it!

On learning the most important Spanish phrase ever.

My adventures with Paul Noble’s Spanish audiobook continue. It takes me at least 45 minutes to drive to work, so on goes the audiobook and I continue to look like a complete lunatic as I announce random Spanish phrases to the world at large from inside my otherwise empty car…

But this evening as I drove home, I learnt the single most important phrase for a holiday with my mother in law:

Qui ciero una botella de vino blanco y un café por favor

This is not a slant on my MIL, but a cold statement of fact that she and I are rather partial to a little wine and coffee. And now we are fully equipped to request supplies!

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So back to the actual language learning. I’m actually quite impressed with this course. I’ve really struggled before trying to get other languages to stick, but I’ve found myself answering questions on the CD (or rather audiobook that calls itself a CD) that I didn’t realise I knew. I’m now at a stage where I’m looking forward to my commute to and from work because I can try out the stuff I’ve learnt.

The next book in the series builds on the basics and focuses on directions and reservations so will be extra useful for our trip & I’m looking forward to moving on (but not until I’ve mastered this first bit!)

The book I got is on Audible and can be found here.

Learning Spanish and looking like a lunatic

In 7.5 weeks my parents finally get a break from us while we jet off to Spain. And in a contrast to the traditional English approach to foreign travel, I will not be adopting the ‘speak-loudly-and-clearly-in-English’ approach to a new language, but am making an attempt to actually learn enough to get by before we go. (Last year we went armed with a phrase book, this year, I’m being more prepared).

Cue me at traffic lights this morning announcing loudly to myself “es preparado el cafe para ousted!”. I looked like a complete loony.

But a loony that has remembered how to tell you I’ve made you a cup of coffee!

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