Learning a second language is, frankly, a rather exciting thing to do. Having stumbled my way through French classes at school, I took a break from language learning for a few years. I then discovered that learning a foreign tongue as an adult is far more interesting and enjoyable than being forced to do it at school. Of course, a few moments stand out as being extra special.
The First Song You Understand
I will always have fond memories of the road from Nazca to Arequipa. While I was in the town with the mystifying lines on the desert floor I bought my first ever Spanish music cassette. Juanes, Thalía, Ricky Martin, Shakira and some Peruvian rock dudes were on it and I was really looking forward to it.
The journey is one of those overnight South American backpacker classics and I spend hours listening to my precious cassette. By the time I arrived at the white city of Arequipa, I knew at least a few of the words to some of the songs and almost felt ready to take part in the Peruvian version of Mike Read’s Pop Quiz.
The First Conversation You Hold
If we fast forward a month, I was now in Bolivia and ready to speak to some people. I was travelling from La Paz to Sucre and the bus stopped in the smallest and poorest village I have ever seen. Everyone piled out of the bus so I did the same. I then realised that it was freezing cold and that they had all went down to eat some sort of unidentifiable food.
As I stood there wondering how I could most politely make my way straight back up to my seat, an old chap started talking to me. It was only after about 5 minutes that I realised that we were speaking in Spanish without many problems. It was my first conversation in the language and it made me eager to learn more new words and be able to speak more.
The First Book You Read
Another couple of months later my travel plans had been torn to shreds along with my onward flight tickets. I was comfortably ensconced in a flat in Bolivia and learning new words every day. One day, I wandered past the local bookstalls and thought, “Why not?” I picked out El Alquimista by Paulo Coelho. It turned out to be a very simply written tale and I was astonished to find that I understood just about every word of it. I enjoyed the experience so much that the next day I went straight back to the stall and stocked up on more Spanish books.
Do you want to enjoy some magical moments while you learn a foreign language? Give it a try and see what amazing memories you end up looking back on fondly in the years to come.