From the first moment we stepped foot in Costa Rica, the locals come up and just start talking to us in their native tongue, Spanish. When we would tell them that we don’t speak the language, “no hablo Español” they looked at us like we were kidding. This happened because we look like the Afro-Caribbean Costa Rican’s who are fluent in both English and Spanish.
We realized that we needed to do something about this. After months of trying to learn on our own we have finally signed up for private Spanish lessons. We initially thought we had the discipline to learn Spanish by using the latest apps. Though that will work for some folks, it wasn’t working for us.
We had our first lesson yesterday. Our teacher Shirley, whom we met through some expats, is awesome. She uses lessons and an interactive approach to keep it interesting. The thing we like best about our Spanish teacher is, even though she is a local, she spent several years in the States. This gives her a different perspective on teaching us because she understands how we think.
Our first lesson got off to a rocky start. Yesterday was a holiday here (Labor Day). This meant many of the places in town were closed, like the library. After thirty minutes of walking around trying to find a place to meet, we settled on a Soda (local diner) across from the library.
Perfecto… we were learning a new language to the smell of fresh-baked bread, gallo pinto (rice and beans) and patacones (fried plantains). So of course we had to partake; we’re Foodies. If they had offered food when I was taking Spanish back in high school, perhaps I would have learned to say more than just “Yo Quiero Taco Bell”.
We enjoyed our first class immensely. We learned to say the basic introductions when meeting someone and gained an understanding of using the formal and informal tenses of the words. Our homework is to focus on the alphabet and learn to correctly pronounce each letter in Spanish. For extra work we will start watching Spanish soap operas. Because the actors over enunciate their words, it will be easier for us to understand.
We have decided we don’t want to be like so many expats who take Spanish lessons for years but still can’t speak the language. We will do our due diligence and work at it everyday by reading the news, listening to music, and watching shows, to start. Later on in the year we will join a salsa group and mountain bike club to hang out exclusively with Ticos and become completely immersed in the language.
Being fluent in a new language is like being healthy. It’s not a goal you actually achieve, but rather one you are constantly pursuing.