Monday, July 12, 2010

Language 101

We are toying with the idea of doing Multilingual Living’s Language Challenge 101, a project to learn a new language as a family for 101 days. Or, you know, until I lose interest.

The most useful for our immediate future would be a concentrated dose of Czech for Baby K in preparation for moving and starting bilingual preschool, but that would be just for her, since us bigguns already speak Czech.

The Slovak suggested Hebrew or Welsh, but that sounded like a bit too much work. Then he suggested Hungarian, which was blatant cheating, since while I DO want to learn, he actually speaks it and would be just brushing up on grammar, while I know just a few words. I did pull out our Communist-era Teach Yourself Hungarian book (“We are workers. Are you workers?”) and went through a few lessons. I probably doubled my Hungarian vocabulary yesterday in an hour or two – meaning I retained five or ten words. I already knew a few things like “I don’t speak Hungarian”, “thank you” and “hello”. Really impressed the (Hungarian-speaking) extended family with those a couple of years ago, too!

I may look through the Hungarian book some more on my own, but as a family project it leaves something to be desired. I’d rather a language where we’re more on an even playing field! Or even where I have an advantage…which brings us to Spanish. We each know a bit but not too much, but I know more (somewhere in the depths of my brain). Score! And the Slovak doesn’t get to insult my pronunciation like with Hungarian.

So Spanish it is. Now to see how long we last, with work, moving, my mother-in-law coming to visit, and, perhaps most significantly, my own slacker nature. At least I can take the Spanish book with us in the car and refresh some basics while we drive!

I didn’t specifically teach K any Spanish or Hungarian vocabulary over the weekend, but I did try out a few sentences on her, which she attempted to repeat. She thought it was pretty funny, which is interesting because in the past she hasn’t reacted to us speaking other languages with any level of surprise. Now it seems that she recognizes and is amused by the fact that this is not our normal way of talking. I think that's probably progress.

But for now it's from the beginning: el español es muy fácil. We'll see about that!


  1. Hi! Spanish is a good choice as there are many books, tv shows, songs, etc. to help you. I'd love to start a new language, but, right now, I think 3 is already lots of work!
    I recommend you a cute baby/toddler? called Pocoyo in Spanish (you can find him in youtube). My son loves Pocoyo, he listens to him speaking in English and it's quite cool. ¡Buena suerte! :)

  2. ¡Gracias! :) I'll see what K thinks of Pocoyo when she gets up from her nap. I actually really agree about 3 languages being way enough for our family already. But my husband and I have been talking about learning a language together pretty much the whole time we've been married and never gotten it together, so we might manage to stick with it for a while this time. K can be our observer and get some exposure to sounds and words outside our regular languages.

  3. I wish hubby would be an activate participant in our quest to learn a new language. he says he understands spanish when I speak it to our daughter yet when he pronounces its gramatically incorrect, So far my quest to learn Croatian is slow. since school is on break my books are collecting dust and I'm forgetting my grammar, I guess since there is a possibility that we will be moving back to the States by the end of the year, seems like I will have to continue with the books on my own.

    Sounds like you have a lot of changes coming your way. Buena suerte amiga!

  4. I may be joining in as well. I need some motivation, that's for sure! Spanish is our choice as well.

  5. Karen - good luck! Motivation is our downfall, too...

    Elisa - you too, good luck with Croatian and thanks :) Maybe if you learn enough of the basics you'll be able to learn just from listening to your husband or other people talking. I'm not too big on the studying myself, at least not any longer than I absolutely have to! It's hard when you're used to speaking English together and your husband isn't too enthusiastic about learning. Living in Croatia is definitely the most convenient way to learn, though, so seize the opportunity!



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