Friday, October 26, 2012

Fun Way to Improve My Spanish

Alberto of Chincha Alta, Perú

I can't think of anything more fun (as well as challenging) than learning to speak a new language in a country where that language is spoken, and to do it very inexpensively. During my last trip to South America, there were places, like Ecuador, where you can get private Spanish lessons for as little as five dollars per hour. Of course, you have to pay for your own flight to get there.

In 2009, I went to Chincha Alta, Perú and met Alberto who offered to help me with my Spanish for as little as 10 nueva soles per hour (about $3.50 USD). We spent three hours per day walking around the city, hanging out in the plaza, and dining in restaurants (on me). We spoke only Spanish. In fact, Alberto does not speak any English at all. Therefore, if I got stuck in interpretation, he and I had to work it out between ourselves. During the course of our conversations, Alberto would correct my grammar, stretch my vocabulary, and even teach me some Peruvian (or Latin-American) manners.

This learning-by-doing, or immersion, is the best way to improve your ability to speak any language. It's a fun experience as you gain better insight into cultures other than your own. However, I would not recommend an immersion program unless you've already had at least one year of classroom, individual, or private study in your language of choice; just my humble opinion if you want to get more bang for your buck..