Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas – Lottie’s answer to learning Spanish


Lottie's cruise. Photo taken from Google Images.
Lottie’s cruise. Photo taken from Google Images

I know Irishman meant well and was only trying to offer encouragement by telling me that Thomas Jefferson  taught himself Spanish in nineteen days, but did I really need to hear it? I’m pretty sure that the 3rd President of The United States Of America did not have the advantage that I do of a full set of Paul Noble CD’s.  What the hell was his secret then to mastering the Spanish lingo in little more than the time it takes to scoff a few tortillas?

Green with envy, and intrigued by Mr. J’s success Miss Marple here felt a burning desire to investigate further. I didn’t have to search too long to find my answer. It would appear that Thomas was in the doldrums; stuck on a ship mid-Atlantic and bound for France. There, in the bowels of his cabin, with nothing to distract him save the odd rat scuttling along the rafters and a couple of bouts of seasickness, he taught himself fluent Espanol. Apparently he had a Spanish grammar, and a friend had lent him a dog-eared copy of Don Quixote. Well hats off to Mr. Jefferson, because after 2 months of half-hearted studying, I’d be lucky now if I could order a beer or make a reservation for a hotel room without fucking it up in some way.

I admit to having the attention span of Daffy Duck and no compunction whatsoever in finding displacement activities when the going gets tough; so it’s quite clear to me now that the only way I shall ever master Spanish is, if I follow in Thomas Jefferson’s fine example and book myself a 3 week cruise. There, safely installed in my berth, I promise to put my headphones on and listen assiduously to the dulcet tones of Paul Noble. I vow that from the moment I wake, until the sun is over the yardarm, I shall not leave my cabin. After that, you know where you can find me.

Here is a link to an amusing article written by Kate Kellaway in The Guardian. She describes how she got on with her Paul Noble cd’s. Definitely worth a read if you a moment.

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/apr/22/learn-spanish-150-minutes-course

54 thoughts on “Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas – Lottie’s answer to learning Spanish

  1. Don’t worry. When in Argentina many years ago I had a severe case of a bad prawn rearing its head. I asked in the chemist shop something for ‘stomachio Libertad’ accompanied by my right arm making up and down movements as if blowing the steam train whistle. The girl got the message and gave the medication with a smile. Still, I would fancy the chances of getting this in Spain a little less than in Jakarta. Am I right?

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    1. Prawns rearing their heads is horrible, you have my every sympathy. It’s ironic that having now mastered reasonable bahasa Indonesia, it’s time to leave. The more I think about stowing myself away on a cruise liner to learn Spanish, the more attractive the idea sounds. It doesn’t even have to leave dock, I just need to have no distractions and force myself to get on with it. Funny how ones studying habits remain with us throughout our lives! 😀

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  2. Senora Nivens, como estas? Lottie just learn the very basic words that you will need in the beginning. Words for different things. You know as in food, water, donkey, nails, hammer, paint, plumber, electricity, gas, car, etc. 🙂

    I can’t speak Spanish although I know a few words since I’ve been around a fair number of Mexicans. Most Mexicans in Texas speak Tex-Mex as some people call it. Lots of slang words and not really pure Spanish. Some of the words are easy and then eventually you will begin to form sentences after you have been there for a while. I find it hard to believe that T. Jefferson learned to speak Espanol in 3 weeks. He must have been a genius.

    Do you have the shipping company lined up? I was going to email you but figured that you are so busy with no time to read mail. I think about you and Pete every day and wonder how things are progressing for ya’ll.

    yvonne xxx

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    1. You are right, Yvonne. I’m probably trying to approach this all at the wrong angle. I taught myself ‘get by-able’ bahasa by learning the words first that were really essential – that, and a lot of sign language greatly helped in the early days. I’m so dotty and scatty that I complicate matters by using visualisation techniques – difficult to explain but it can end up making the learning process a lot more long-winded than it needs be. The bottom line is that I’m bone idle when it comes to learning languages.

      At long last I’ve got the shipping sorted. God, what a nightmare! One quote started at almost $9,000, I’ve now pinned them down to just under $4,000. It’s still a lot of money to have to find, especially since we have to get straight to work on the house once we get there AND we won’t have a salary after the end of October – all a bit scary but I’m sure we will manage somehow.

      I’ve ALWAYS got time for you – remember, I love displacement activities! 😉 XXX

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    1. Richard, I’m sure that I’ll get the hang of it eventually, all shall be coolio. Though I think that I shall be swopping beer for rioja, 2 years of Bintang and I’m ready for a change!!

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  3. Stay calm, Lottie 😉 And don’t forget, everywhere there is a sort of local dialect, so I bet, if you were perfect in spanish, it won’t help you much in Adalucia.. So leaning by doing and use your arms and legs or make drawings 😉 and then everything else will come.. Have a good start 😀

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    1. You make me laugh, Marta! You reminded me of the time I had to ad lib being sea-sick here in indonesia. i needed some travel sick pills – If I say it so myself, it was something of an oscar winning performance 😉
      you are right about the dialects, mucho complicado – My french isn’t too bad but I remember when in a previous life I used to have a house in the Basque area of France, it was quite hard to understand what people were saying, it was a very pretty sing song sort of accent. The Spanish speak SO fast! I’ll start my drawings now! 😀

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    1. Funny you should post this ….when I was having my Iberian music fest last week (the one where I twerked and put my back out ) I saw these podcasts on itunes and thought ‘hello, I need to check these out’ so, thanks B. I’ll have a look. Every little helps!

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  4. I think Yvonne and Marta got you on the right track, Lottie. A little at a time is the way to go. Once you get the basics the rest will probably come to you in bunches. Jefferson was a freakin’ genius…not that I am judging our Jakarta correspondent mind you. But I read a 6 volume biography of the guy…I had trouble sleeping back then…smart dude….except for the slave keeping part. Good luck…we know you can do it. 🙂

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    1. I am ashamed to say that I know very little about Jefferson (apart from the nauseating fact that he could teach himself Spanish in 19 days)
      I’ve no doubt that I will get there in the end, and it will certainly be a lot more fun once we’ve arrived because I can use whatever I learn (and manage to retain) in a practical way rather than wandering around the apartment having imaginary conversations with a bar man or hotel receptionist! 😀

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  5. Que bueno! Necitas las palabras mas importantes… comida, cerveza, la conta, ahora estas listo. Oh, y carajo! para cuando vistas la conta 🙂

    They were also my first words in Portuguese and I am still here.

    AV

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  6. Ay, pobrecita Lottie 😦
    I wouldn’t bother with grammar if I were you. It’s easier if you learn a language the way babies do – by immersing yourself into it. Music, news, movies, cartoons: they’ll all help you build a solid vocabulary through assimilation rather than memorization. Grammar will soon emerge, as your brain figures out the rules on its own. Only then it is worth bothering about verb terminations and el “dreaded” subjuntivo 🙂

    Rosetta Stone is pretty good at teaching a language through immersion.

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  7. Hell, the grammar can wait! I know from my experience of living in Jakarta, that I will pick up words very quickly. I’ve heard that Rosetta Stone is good but very expensive, the problem lies with me not concentrating and not working hard enough with it. Once it becomes a necessity and I have to learn it, then I think I’ll be ok. My first job once I arrive is to install a new shower…..that’s going to be interesting, oh and possibly some re-wiring. My new spanish vocabulary will be rich in words like u-bend, toilet, pipes, blockage, leaks, damp, wiring – muy romantico!

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  8. Awwww, I have the attention span of daffy duck too! Spanish is not 14 day easy. In TJ’s day he had servants who sorted him out, It took him 14 days to master the greetings, not the whole language. surely?

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    1. I’m glad that I’m not the only human who takes after Daffy Duck, It is a curse though, especially when you really need to knuckle down and learn something fast! About TJ, I’d really love to think that he did learn to speak Spanish quickly, it inspires hope in the rest of us 😉

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  9. However you learn, I’m sure the yardarm could still be used as an effective carrot. And maybe those liquids could in fact help your fluency?? Up to a certain point anyway!

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    1. Thanks Hayley. The yardarm would be a most excellent carrot! Talking of carrots, I’m trying to talk Pete in to letting us have a donkey when we are there. We used to keep them when we lived in N.Yorkshire. They are the most wonderful creatures 🙂

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  10. I spent 6 weeks in Spain this summer with about 3 months of intermittent study in advance with the CDs like most people do–the boring stuff. Then I found http://www.shortcuttospanish.com/. I did some of the free lessons and it really helped me. I know I’ll be back to Spain again someday and next time I will take learning the language more seriously. I will definitely buy the Shortcut to Spanish program. By the way, I stayed with a Spanish family who spoke English with me. I was still very surprised at how disorienting it was to be in a foreign country and to only communicate at a surface level. You will love Spain!!! I certainly did and have written about it on my blog. I haven’t written about all the places I visited yet. I did spend a week in Andalusia though. Am excited for you. Adios!

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    1. Thanks very much for the link, kind of you to post it here. No one speaks English in the small village that we are moving to which is great as it will force me to pull my finger out and get on with it.

      After 2 years of Indonesia I’m used to only being able to communicate at surface level – but it’s very frustrating at times as you know! I hope you get back to Spain soon and I look forward to catching up with your Iberian adventures via your blog. Thanks again, Lottie 🙂

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  11. Miz Lottie: I’m with Steve, go for the cruise! Go for the cruise!

    I still remember the Spanish I learned in school (K-3rd grade) when I lived in San Diego as a child. I think I remember every word of it; the counting, the words for all of the animals; everything. Two years of French in high school and college and I end up saying “shit day” instead of Tuesday, when dining avec la famille Francais. Humph! So unless you have a time machine and can go back to age six or seven, immersion is really the best way. Maybe Iberia Airlines has a cruise line with Spanish-speaking crew that offers a language boot camp on a slow boat to Espana. (Ok, that is a joke but what an idea!!!)

    Bon voyage and best of luck to you on your new adventure! :O)

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    1. Thanks, Diva 🙂 I wish I’d learnt Spanish at school. My French is not too bad, well, it’s bloody fantastic when compared to my Spanish. I think I shall start my immersion in the local bar, lubrication will definitely help and it’s a good way to make a complete and utter fool of yourself. At least with a few glasses of rioja, I’ll be able roll my ‘rrrrr’s better 😉

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  12. Daffy duck here 😀

    11 years in Andalucia and I am still alive !! I’ve not dishonoured the mayor’s daughter, given away Gibraltar to the Spanish or been arrested for ruining the Spanish language. Maybe I need to live with a hot Spanish woman …… maybe not ….. I will only learn about shopping, shoes and her 97 relatives that come for Sunday lunch 😉

    Good luck on your mission Lottie. Ralph xox 😀

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    1. Thanks, Ralph. We are just a few weeks away now so the tension and excitement is mounting! I’m sure I’ll be fluent in no time LOL! What sort of weather should we expect at the end of October? I’m guessing that I’ll need something more than an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini to keep me warm? 😉 xox

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      1. How exciting for you. The days will fly by and you will be fluent I’m sure. I have just had 3 days of rain but when the sun comes out it’s hot and can stay that way through to Christmas. Evenings and nights are cold though. So wear a bikini with a fur coat and you’ll cover whatever the weather throws at you. 😀

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      2. No darling, not at all. You may however have just divulged your fetish for women wearing bikinis and fur coats, that’s all 😉
        BTW thanks for entertaining me this morning and taking my mind of things – we are feeling very sad as we are about to leave Bali in the next hour. Bags packed, boxes shipped – end of a very happy era, we’ve been blessed to have had this time here xox

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      3. Hehe !! You found me out 😉
        Sad, yes, but you are starting out on a new adventure. Have a fantastic voyage of discovery. Bon voyage my friend 😀 xox

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    1. I’m so glad you read the article – it’s especially funny/excellent if you’ve used Paul’s CD’s – he has a very particular method of teaching! I could hear his voice in her words which made it even better!

      Thanks Sherry. Guess you’ll be heading back to Bali very soon? We left yesterday, tears all round. Wayan was inconsolable – she wrote me a letter and the flood gates opened. I’m going to miss her like crazy 😦

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  13. As long as you know cervesa and bano you’re all set. 🙂 I’ve been trying to learn Italiano through CDs while driving to and from work – it’s a lot of fun. Much more fun than reading in a ship with rats around. Jefferson must have had one of those photographic memories. I wish I could remember everything I’ve read or heard. Instead, I’ll just keep repeating and brainwashing myself until those voices won’t leave my head.

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      1. Yes, Scots takes a bit of getting used too! It may as well be a ‘foreign’ language – it’s about as far removed from English as French is. It’s an absolutely stunning country though and if the weather was a wee bit better, I’d move there like a shot!

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      2. We were very lucky and had lots of sunshine and mild weather. Everyone was very friendly even when I had to ask them to repeat themselves. They probably just thought I was old and deaf. Actually come to think of it I am old and deaf.

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      3. That’s good to hear (sorry not the old, deaf part!!) but the weather. Makes such a difference if you can actually see your surroundings and they are not shrouded in mist and drizzle! I’m deaf in my right ear and Pete is deaf in his left, can you imagine the fun we have?! Happy Travels, Rod 🙂

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  14. Dear Lottie so sad to find you sailing back to the old world but glad for you it is all happening. I have no idea about learning a language – I’m rubbish – but you could just try singing and dancing about. Enriqe Iglesias has a new record called Heart Attack and Gloria Estefan has an older one called Fame is on your Doorstep. So, depending how optimistic you’re feeling, you could go with either of those. Can’t wait to see pics of the whole new enchilada.

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    1. We are a week down the line here and I’m itching to start writing about it but there’s so much to do and now the builders have started the house is full of rubble and dust! I’m not so worried about learning Spanish now, everyday I learn a few more words and slowly slowly I’m building up my vocabulary. I’ll check out Enrique and Gloria for sure! 😉

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  15. Hola, la Senora de la casa, I just now read the comment by C. Spain and then I clicked on your blog and viola- there was/is the new header photo. And it is a good one too. Beaufiful. I’ve thought of you and Pete every day since I think about a week or more ago and especially during the time that I knew you were driving from UK to Spain. That should be a story unto its self with all the mad dashing about to grab things that you would need, etc, and the list goes on. Anyhow if you happen to check your blog here is my greeting to you and Pete. The blog title is a good one. I had to look that up. Spanish for wine, I think. Excellent title.

    Oh yes and I’ve wondered if work has begun on the el cuarto de bano. That is a whole lot of words just to say bathroom. Gee whiz- Sir Google knows everything. Best Internet thing to come along since sliced bread as we say over in my little part of Texas.

    Adios, senora and hasta la proxima ~yvonne xox

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    1. Yvonne, if you could see the shambles here you would either die laughing or crying! I’m so glad that you like the new title – have you read my new About Me section? I’m really longing to write a post but my days are spent filling kettles to get hot water so that we can wash/do laundry/washing up or meeting builders, plumbers, electricians – Serena arrives tomorrow and the house looks like a bomb has hit it….we are still using a bucket – roll on a working bathroom, kitchen and roaring log fire. I’m most impressed by your Spanish vocabulary! Muchos impressed in fact! xox

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  16. I´m puzzled by the new title seeing as you are in Andalucia. Or is that because you are living on rioja?

    Anyway I´ve written a few posts about learning spanish somewhere in the depths of my blog. Planning on another when I re-enter so-called civilisation. Mainly about mistakes not to make. Like not saying you are embarazada when you are embarrassed which we heard someone say to her spanish cleaner 😀

    Hope things are going well aqui en españa.

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    1. Ms Rough, the reason for calling it The Rioja Diaries is because I have a penchant for rioja. I wrote a new About Me and all is revealed there. You are right, it could of course be The Rioja Diaries and set in Rioja and written by an abstainer but it’s not. I shall have to check out your learning spanish posts when i have a moment. Right now I am sitting on a pile of rubble in total chaos. As soon as the dust settles, metaphorically and physically I shall be starting to write posts again but for now it’s simply a matter of survival as I empty buckets of pee, and try to bring some semblance of domestic harmony to what can only be described as living hell. I keep reminding myself that this will pass and that in a couple of weeks calm will once more prevail. The house is divine (well i think so) and the villagers have embraced us with open arms. I don’t believe I have ever met such generous souls – offers of help, braces of rabbit, buckets of quinces and pomegranates, old cookers, gas heaters and copious rounds of drinks at the bar seem to appear out of nowhere – I think I shall be spending a good few weeks in the olive groves when the harvest starts helping to repay their kindness.

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  17. I learned Spanish, just only to speak, in four and half of months when I worked in Las Palmas in 1969. To speak and to write are different things. Spanish grammar is not so easy, as man could think. Many times I “struggled” with my translations of my blog, because I have not been on any Spanish courses. Anyway, I’ll continue despite of all errors. My motto is: ” by doing is learning”.

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    1. Hello! I like your motto “by doing is learning” – I’ve been in Spain for 8 months now and my Spanish is a lot better than when I first arrived but still not very good. I’m not worried, I learn a little everyday and hopefully by this time next year I shall have improved a lot! It is frustrating at times but this is all part of the learning process and encourages me to keep going. Thanks for your comment and good to hear from you 😀

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      1. Nice answer, I thank You. I am blogging in four languages since seven months. My newest language is Portuguese and before it I wrote my posts in English, Spanish and French. Internet offers great possibilities to learn languages easily. I read newspapers around the world in original languages and watch local news.

        After one year You’ll speak Spanish very well. Happy blogging!

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