learning spanish FAQs - part I

Since I started learning Spanish a little while back, people around me had asked me many things. Why Spanish? Is it easy? Is it fun? Where do you go to class? How long? How much? Are the teachers good? Is the certificate recognized? Is it even useful? Are you planning to go to Spain? Are you trying to get Latin men? Endless questions, but mostly the same ones over and over again.

So I thought maybe I should put up the answers to those questions here. Therefore in the future if anybody asks me about my Spanish class I can just tell him/her to check out my blog, it's all here.

1. Why Spanish?

Perhaps you want to check out my previous entry about learning a new language here. Anyway, about 7 or 8 years ago there was an avalanche of Spanish telenovelas on Malaysian tv. I remember during that time almost every channel (except TV1 which is a government-run channel dedicated to programs in Malay) showed at least one telenovela each. Being an undergrad student at that time I used to rush back to my on-campus student apartment after class so that I wouldn't miss my favorite series. There were plenty to choose from. Some of them were aired in the morning, some in the afternoon. The popular ones were often aired around 4pm onwards which was perfect for me coz most of my classes would be done by then.

Those telenovelas were highly addictive. Me and my friends would sometimes skip our class just to make sure that we wouldn't miss an important episode i.e. when the girl is going to find out that the guy is engaged to another woman who he doesn't love (yeah, corny!). Every time we had to make an important decision whether to go to class or to watch telenovela, telenovela always won, hands down. We would tell each other "Sorry can't make it to class today, Fernando Jose (the hero of "Rosalinda", or whoever the hero of whichever telenovela we were watching) is waiting for me." Hahaha!

It was from watching those series I started recognizing some Spanish words. Mi amor = my love. Dinero = money. Porqué = why. And several more. Quite impressive considering nobody speaks Spanish in Malaysia (except for a small group of expatriates which I never encountered back then). Each telenovela would run for more than a hundred episodes. Each episode took an hour, running 5 days a week. Since I had no patience to wait for another 6 months to find out whether the hero and heroine would end up together (duh!), I would Google for any website or online forum that would give me the answer, preferably with a wedding photo as a proof. 99% of the time the site would be in Spanish. Babelfish became my best friend, though at times it gave me the weirdest translations. That was when I started thinking how cool it would be to be able to understand the words without having to rely on Babelfish, or having to figure out what it was trying to tell me when the translated version didn't make much sense.

Although I had always thought of learning Spanish as "something that I would love to do one day", it wasn't until this year that I actually acted on it. When I was in university I got to choose between sports or language or performance art as my extra-curricular subject. Though even back then I already had it at the back of my mind to learn Spanish at some point in my life, I didn't bother to check if Spanish was one of the languages offered coz I already had my head set to do theatre (one of performance art subjects) as my extra-curricular. Guess the thought of being Joanna Bessey's (yes the actress, she was my lecturer) understudy was far more interesting at that time.

After graduation I started working with EY. Between returning from work at 8pm on weekdays and having to do work at home on weekends, learning a new language seemed to be a far-fetched dream. I also had to complete my ACCA (which was my no. 1 priority) for me to become a Chartered Accountant and obtain MIA membership. After completing my ACCA and 4 years with EY, I finally got the hard-earned title and moved to MAS.

Working with MAS is fabulous. Since I join the company, my quality of life has improved tremendously, alhamdulillah. I have more time for myself after office hours and during weekends. Since UM MBA classes are on weekdays, my weekends are free. The timing is just perfect for me to pursue my long-ago-yet-never-forgotten dream of learning a new language.

Spanish is an obvious first choice considering my love for telenovelas and FC Barcelona. My dad asked me if I had considered Mandarin (by the way I'm part Chinese from my dad's side) or Japanese (my mum speaks Japanese coz she studied in Japan in her younger days). Well, yes I had, but at this age learning thousands of foreign characters to make up a new language is no easy feat. I need to fast-track by learning a language that I can read using ABC. French would be nice but it's quite difficult to learn, they spell a word with so many letters but pronounce only a few i.e. "Bordeaux" is pronounced "bodo". I can already imagine myself making lots of spelling and pronunciation mistakes along the way. Having said that, if I had started much younger I would have chosen French coz it's more practical especially in Europe and parts of Africa.

The final two contenders are Spanish and Italian. Both are easy to learn, what you write is what you read. Yet I have never heard of any other country besides Italy in which Italian is widely spoken. Spanish meanwhile is spoken not just in Spain but also in USA and the entire South America continent except for Brazil (Brazilians speak Portuguese). So what more can I say, Spanish it is!

It's already a long entry for one question. I'll answer the rest in the next entry. Till then, ¡hasta luego! @ see you later!


Erin said...

always wanted to learn mandarin. i heard french can be a nightmare, and yes...italian is only spoken in italy, so mcm sia2 je haha

dieya said...

mate, u r an english teacher, lerning languages will be a piece of cake for u ;-) mandarin is definitely useful. if you have the interest, surely you can master it in no time!

dyanna said...

i've read that the best place to learn a language is to go to the place where it's being used as the mother tongue. (Live, Pray and Love).

Thinking of packing up and staying in Spain for 3 months? Hehehe..

dieya said...

that would be sooooo awesome but i don't dare (yet) to take 3 months unpaid leave and do that. maybe later.. definitely something to consider. as of now i'm starting small, say several days of vacation to get a taste of life in spain.

dyanna said...

i've always dreamed of taking looonng unpaid leave and pack off somewhere new. I was inspired by my colleague who took 6 months off to work (at some farms), live, explore and enjoy new zealand.

i'm still dreaming about it. can't convince anyone to come with.

dieya said...

omg that's so cool! if u ever plan to make it happen let me know. i wanna go with u! i think 6 months is a bit too long? not sure if my company will approve that, even unpaid.. hmm.. 3 months should be ok coz it's almost as long as those ppl taking maternity leave.

but first need to save some $ to make that dream come true.. hahaha.. back to reality now!