Preparing for our move to Spain is much more than packing the belongings we want to take with us, it is also about getting ourselves ready to live there.
In fact, there is such a long list of things that need to be done before we leave that I have created a spreadsheet. Using this, we can keep track of what needs to be done with a planned date for it to be actioned and when each item was actually completed. Organised or what?
One entry that is not there, however, is one that we have already started, will continue right up to the day we leave and carry on even after we arrive at our new home.
I am talking about learning to understand and speak everyday conversational Spanish.
If we had chosen to move to a tourist area, we would have probably been able to get by in English alone but we wanted a different lifestyle, we wanted to live in an area in which, when we go to the nearest village, we would need to speak Spanish.
Now, anyone who knows me well would be aware that, other than English, my language skills are pretty limited. Learning languages is not something I ever found to be easy.
I studied French for five years at school only to have it give me up as a lost cause when I failed the spoken French exam, age 16. I think that the main problem was that I could not learn to think in French so I had to translate the question into English in my head, think of the answer and, hopefully, translate that answer into French. All that took too long, it was hopeless.
It was a similar tale with learning Welsh. Although I understood some of what I heard, I only ever learned to say a few words. Interestingly, though, one day when I was working as a journalist for the Caernarfon Herald two of my colleagues were talking to each other in the newsroom. I heard Eryl ask Neville a question to which he did not know the answer. I did, so I happily told them what it was.
There was silence. I had looked back at what I was doing but quickly looked up again to see two surprised faces. I didn’t know why until one of them said that they had been speaking in Welsh. I had understood the gist of their conversation without even considering the language and had then given the answer they needed but I had spoken in English.
Learning Spanish has, so far, proved easier than either French or Welsh but there is much still to learn and we will have to wait and see how it works in practice. One big advantage when learning Spanish is that its grammar, its sentence construction is very similar to English.
The development of my Spanish language skills may be at a very early stage but I am already feeling encouraged by my progress so far.
- The Spanish in the heading reads ‘Can you speak Spanish?’