Legal Alien: A Scotsman in Montreal

?Que tal?

I've bought myself one of those "Teach Yourself Spanish" books - it came with 2 audio CDs which I didn't expect, so now I get to repeat important phrases such as ?De Donde eres? in the correct accent. I've only covered section 1 so far, which basically says hello, what's your name, where do you come from. I have quite a bit of free time right now in the evenings, so I reckon doing an hour a night rather than watching some crap on TV won't be too painful. Hopefully the book will give me a decent enough grounding to start learning some vocabulary which an introductory book can never provide. Luckily for me, one of my house-mates is half-Columbian and so is fluent in Spanish, so I can pick her brain - I get the felling ?Que Significa...? could become a well-worn phrase!

I was always really crap at languages at school, well sort of. I could do the reading and listening pretty well, but I could never form a sentence properly - I was too direct in my translation. I could get the grammar right (i.e. pronoun in the right place, agreeing with the gender of the subject), but would just massacre the words. However, spending 2 years abroad and forcing myself to speak French as much as possible got me out of my regulated English sentence structure, and I now consider myself to have a good working knowledge of French. Still a way off fluent, but I think I'd need to emigrate to do that!

It's hard to explain but I feel there are lots of hidden benefits to learning another language - it seems to give you another perspective about things, and it makes you realise subtleties about the English language I'd never noticed before. I doubt learning a third language will provide such insights, but it's supposed to get easier to learn languages the more of them you know. So after Spanish, I was thinking about Japanese, but that could be a bridge too far!

Adios, buenos tardes!