I took high school Spanish, although at the time, Latin American Spanish wasn’t taught in schools. I had a Puerto Rican friend who would teach me streetwise, relevant Spanish — a handy supplement to Castilian. Rosa insisted I would get beaten up on the streets if I approached someone with a big “¡encantada de conocerle!” She taught me the common vernacular and a smattering of swear words.
So to prep for my next trip SOB, I splurged for Levels 1 and 2 of Rosetta Stone, something I used years ago when I was learning French. The program has improved a lot in the last six or seven years. It used to really drag on my desktop computer; today, it runs pretty well on a laptop.
I don’t expect to be able to speak at all, but I’d like to be able to recognize written words other than “Se Vende.” So instead of the morning news on television, I’m waking up to “el hombre bebe.” Hope it sticks. I went to Paris once, after cramming some of the language, and my vocabulary and pronunciation got worse over the 10 days I spent there. Starting out, I could give and understand simple interactions, but by the end of my time there, I tried telling the taxi driver to take me to the metro, and he had absolutely no idea what I wanted.