03 March 2014

Speaking Spanglish


Tijuana IS Mexico and it isn't. English is widely spoken in most of the city, and the museums and most places have information in English as well as Spanish. But it is Mexico in a way that it is rude to NOT learn some Spanish before moving to that country. If I wanted to wash clothes at the laundromat, I could probably get by with English, but I just use Spanish when conducting day to day business.

I started learning Spanish when I was 12 years old, when I met Hector (another post that should come soon!). I knew a few words and phrases before I realized that I have a gift for language. My freshman year of high school, I took my first Spanish class, and I EXCELLED. I memorized verb conjugations and nouns. In my spare time I read Spanish/English dictionaries, copying the entries word for word into one of my millions of notebooks. In 2 years I taught myself pretty fluent Spanish and I never had an accent. By my Junior year of high school, I was kicked out of the third year Spanish class for correcting the teacher, then I was put into a Spanish class for native speakers.

Spanish became a necessity for me when Cecilia was a baby and we moved in with her dad and my mother-in-law. My wonderful Madre doesn't speak a lot of English, and I am continually grateful to my younger self, who only worked hard at learning Spanish. My mother-in-law is probably my best friend these days, and I think it has to do with my ability to learn Spanish.

But alas, 2 kids later, and I don't have time to copy dictionaries word for word anymore. How can I keep learning and perfecting? With Duolingo!
The ABSOLUTE most amazing and easy way to learn another language

This completely FREE app/website is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I love this app and I use it daily. With Duolingo, you can learn Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, or English just like Rosetta Stone, but free. I love this app because not only is it free, but it is ad-free, so you can concentrate on just learning a language. I love how simple Duolingo makes learning, breaking every language down into a "tree" and having every unit build up into the next. There is continuity with the Duolingo learning process (and daily e-mail reminders/text messages if I don't remember to sign on and practice!)

Lately I've begun my 3rd language: Portuguese and I am loving the learning process
An example of a Portuguese-learning question. 
The three hearts at the top of the screen are important because you get three screw-ups per unit before the owl gets all sad and you have to start over. Each screw-up and you lose a heart. The more hearts you have at the end of the lesson, the more points it awards you and the closer you are to moving up the levels.

If you want to learn a second (or third or fourth!) language, I highly recommend Duolingo. It is a fun way to learn and it is so simple to use from your phone or the website, or as a Facebook app! Three great way to connect and expand your knowledge.

¡Buena suerte!


  1. I love the app. I downloaded after reading about you. It works great for my daughter in law to learn English from Spanish too. I applaud your decision to move to Mexico and keep your family together.

  2. Duolingo is awesome! Lucky you with a talent for languages, I'm jealous:)