When we were in High School, we had the privilege of learning French for two years to make graduation requirements. However, that was long ago (we forgot most of it), and we rarely needed it to cope during any of our travels. In just about every place we visited, we noticed the massive influence of the Spanish language. In the Philippines, Mexico City, Belize, California, and even our latest trip to Costa Rica together made it evident of how it was a crucial part in paying for groceries, arriving at the right place at the right time, and just making traveling an overall enjoyable experience.
Although French may be the second most spoken language worldwide as far as the number of countries are concerned; The fact is, Spanish is only second to Mandarin Chinese as the most spoken language on the planet (with English being 3rd). This fact, in conjunction with a recent trip to South America, made us intrigued with learning a new language: Spanish! Additionally, we didn’t want to fall into the category of stereotypical “only English speaking-Americans”. Knowing the native language when you visit a place is fundamental in truly understanding a culture.
Knowing the native language when you visit a place is fundamental in truly understanding a culture.
Since Spanish is considered a Romance Language, and with the influence of Spanish explorers of Indo-Asia in the 18th century, my wife Mary, with her background in Filipino (Tagalog), could grasp Spanish a bit easier than I could. It was perfect timing as a collaboration with Rosetta Stone fell into our life as we needed a language teacher/app.
The Rosetta Stone app was not only available in two dialects of Spanish (Latin America-Spanish or Spain-Spanish) but 22 other languages as well! Such as English (US), English (UK), French, Japanese, Italian, German, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Korean, Dutch, Tagalog, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Farsi, Polish, Swedish, Turkish, and Vietnamese. However, Rosetta Stone website offers 30 languages in total. We believed that through Rosetta Stone, it would help us in translations but little did we know how vital conversational Spanish would become.
…little did we know how VITAL conversational Spanish would become.
Fortunately, we had the Rosetta Stone app downloaded on our laptops, iPad, and iPhones by the time we boarded our first of two planes to Costa Rica. Apart from trying to learn Spanish through on-board entertainment (movies with Spanish subtitles), we were able to download lessons in Spanish from the Rosetta Stone app. It was convenient learning anywhere and any time at many slow junctures of our trip: bus, plane, restaurants, and layovers. As recommended, we spent at least 15-minutes a day, or any availability we had en route, to learn. With incredible detail and educational specialists behind the software, the app was navigatable, engaging, and outright enjoyable. We caught on quite quickly, or so we thought.
When we first landed at the San Jose airport in Costa Rica, our real-life execution of Spanish (Latin America) had commenced. Upon arriving, we were bombarded by locals speaking their native tongue with sporadic sentences of English. Unfortunately, we weren’t confident enough to speak Spanish ourselves other than “Hola! Habla usted Ingles?”- (Do you speak English?) – So much for that “ignorant American” stereotype we attempted to avoid. It seemed that we were in over our heads as far as communicating in Spanish was concerned. Despite confidence issues, with our quick learning from Rosetta Stone, we were able to manage a few common phrases asking: how much, directions, and of course, “Gracias”(thank you)! The Phrasebook feature was super helpful for getting easy to understand greetings, phrases, and expressions and was the perfect practice to prepare for travelling to our destination. They have phrasebooks for common actions, and we found the “Getting Around” part to be most helpful, as it had all of the most common phrases used while traveling
Luckily for us, all our driver needed was the directions. He didn’t speak a single word of English and we were able to arrive at our temporary destination on time! As we settled down in our new location, we came to a quick realization that we were in a part where English was rarely spoken. It was a Tico Town. In our understanding, it was a bonafied “local” area and speaking Spanish was the normal way of life here. So, if we wanted to get by, knowing a bit more of Spanish would be paramount on this trip.
we came to a quick realization that we were in a part where Enlgish was rarely spoken.
Shortly after this, on our wedding anniversary of all days, our gear bag was stolen within 10 minutes of us leaving our car. We know, we know: never leave valuables in your car, especially in a foreign country, that of which you have never even visited! We don’t even leave valuables in our car here at home. Because of this unforeseen turn of events, we canceled our plans and spent all day (other than eating) at the local police station…of which only one person spoke English, who happened to be out for the day!
Speaking Spanish was a savior. Although we didn’t have to speak it too fluently ourselves, we were able to find a “Pura Vida” soul who came to the police station, with us, to offer a translation in creating an official police report for insurance purposes. Thanks to the Rosetta Stone app and their easy on-the-go learning system with TruAccent, I was able to comprehend a few essential details of the interaction (such as describing what color, size, and item it was).
It was beyond a simple translation; it was an experience of their culture. The jokes, the banter, and the unique sayings were all said within this little short interaction that I came out with more determination than ever to learn more of the language! I realized how accurate Rosetta Stone was! It creates a natural way of learning, by using Dynamic Immersion, which teaches new words and phrases based on the context they’re used. After hearing this interaction at the police station, it boosted my confidence from words, to phrases to (almost) full conversations when speaking to the locals toward the end of our trip! Of the most popular languages taught by Rosetta Stone, I’m glad we chose Spanish.
It was beyond a simple translation; it was an experience of their culture.
Overall, our Spanish could have been more accurate.With more time using Rosetta Stone, the gold standard of language learning, it’s now a matter of time before we are properly applying, with confidence, what we learned on our next trip to a Spanish speaking country! We are still spending 10-15 minutes a day, before heading to bed, on a few phrases and have been recalling home objects in Spanish to keep us refreshed! Rosetta Stone, without doubt, works and this jubilation would not have come to fruition if our gear bag was not stolen. Interestingly enough, because we were able to file an official police report in Spanish, we were reimbursed by the insurance company. Knowing Spanish saved our gear and in the end, fulfilled us more than we could have even dreamt of!
Interested in learning spanish? check out Rosetta Stone!
“Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.”
— John Mayer
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Rosetta Stone. All of our opinions are honest. Mahalo!