The possibility of a dialogue between two diverse groups could be the start of something great. A simple “Hola!” or “Namaste” is enough to bridge the great divide, and advance our understanding of this world! Language is a powerful tool; it creates a bond between two human beings, introduces them to a whole new culture, teaches them a thing or two about racial tolerance, and generally makes the world a better place.
I love learning languages. Besides the above worldly reasons, learning a new lingo is a good exercise for my brain. It also helps me reach out to more people, expand my horizon and allows me to come out from the narrowness of my mind. Ah, I almost forgot. It’s a fun thing to do!
I can understand and speak, from a few to a lot, in English, Nepali, Hindi, Bengali and Marathi. So when I came to the US, I knew I had to add to my portfolio. I chose Spanish because I thought it would be cool to learn the second language of this country and implement when I go to Mexico! I knew “what” to do but “how” to do was a baffling question since I had a plethora of options to choose from. There was Rosetta Stone – the world-famous language learning software, effective but expensive at $500. Then there was the option of hiring a private tutor, but it sounded too fancy and luxurious. Moreover, those fellas didn’t come cheap. They charged anywhere between $40-$65 for an hour! Learning via the great tutor, the Internet, sounded boring. Finally I chose the most convenient and cheapest option, the nearby community college, $150 for a 3-month course! I was sold, and very soon enrolled. And I went all the way. Three months of Reading-Writing Beginner’s level 1, another three months of Reading-Writing Beginner’s level 2, and a further two months of Spoken Spanish.
Having injected with a significant dose of Spanish, I was now getting restless to put it to use and start practicing. My first stop was Walmart, which employs a great number of native speakers. Initially I would feel awkward saying “¿dónde están los tomates?” (Where are the tomatoes) in the most hard-to-understand way, but I knew I had to keep talking. I then started conversing with a bunch of Mexican guys who were fixing up and repainting my apartment campus. Simple phrases like “hola” (Hello!) or “como estas” (How are you?) would suffice and make my day. My next stop was Mexican restaurants, and I would eat there with the hope of practicing with the servers. I had a whole chapter on “Food” and “Eating Out” in my course book, and it came real handy. I put together a small group of Spanish speaking enthusiasts, and we would meet often. I also spent some time on www.mylanguageexchange.com, a wonderful language exchange website.
Spanish opened my world further. One day a friend asks me “hey, why don’t you learn Italian, do you know, you learn so much of it while you learn Spanish?.” And he was right. Italian was so much similar to Spanish – Por favor was Per favore in Italian (Please), Gracias was Grazie (Thank you)! One revelation led to another, and that’s how I came to know about Romance languages. Romance languages are a group of 8 languages, primarily, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Occitan and Romanian who share common vocabulary and grammatical structures. This also means, if you know one, it becomes quite easy to master another, with Spanish being the easiest and Romanian, the toughest.
I always pick easy first. I think I’ll start an Italian affair next!
¿Hablas español? No hay problema. Here’s something to get the conversation started…!
Hola – Hello
Adiós – Goodbye
Buenos días – Good morning
Buenas noches – Good night
¿Cómo se llama usted? – What is your name
Me llamo – My name is _____
¿Hablas español? – Do you speak Spanish
Hablo español/No hablo español – I speak Spanish/I don’t speak Spanish
¿Cómo está usted? – How are you?
Estoy bien – I am fine
¿De dónde eres? – Where are you from?
Soy de – I am from _______