Finally after nearly three years of diligent language learning I got to Spain to put Duolingo in practice. Have my fifteen minute sessions six days a week on the language learning app been of any use? Let’s start with the positives shall we?
I’ve found that I can now grasp quite a lot of written Spanish. Menus, notices in shops, road signs and the like are often reasonably easy to understand especially with a bit of additional help from Google Translate. I’m confident making simple requests that are useful in a holiday situation. You know the sort of thing: ordering things in bars and restaurants, buying tickets on public transport and booking into the paid motorhome aires.
Sometimes I surprise myself with the spoken language that I’m able to understand. ‘Where are you going?’ asked Hot Stuff when the ferry got into port. They’d said in Spanish that we could go down to car deck three and I’d twigged that. Likewise I was able to pick up that till number three was opening in a Lidl that we stopped at so hopped to the front of the queue. I also knew the amount of change that a waitress was going to give me in a bar because she’d told me the amount as she counted the money from the till.
But then we get to the ‘could do better’ territory. The Spanish speak a lot faster than they do on Duolingo. And because I’m not using to having a conversation in real time I’m finding that I don’t think fast enough to answer back before they revert to speaking to me in English. The lovely people round here seem very keen to practice their own foreign language skills as well. I’m wondering whether, with more Duolingo practice, I’ll improve or whether I need to find a way of having proper conversations in Spanish. Time will tell. I see that Duo the owl offers those now so I may have to give it a go. The main problem is, during our travels in Northern Spain, a lot of the locals routinely speak an entirely different language. Galician is more like Portuguese!