Nevertheless, this old, retired teacher has embarked on the mission of learning some more languages. Several months ago, I wrote a couple posts about my attempt to learn some
German. Since I was going to travel to Switzerland, I thought it would be nice to be able to speak a bit of German. I went to a free website called "Duolingo" and began their German lessons. At first it was fun and a breeze. I learned a number of phrases and a fair amount of vocabulary. I could even conjugate a few verbs in the present tense. "Duolingo" even said that I was 34% fluent, which is laughable. But then I hit a wall. As I continued, the grammar was becoming quite difficult. I had accomplished what I had set out to do... learning a smattering of the language... so I figured that I would not pursue it any further after taking my trip.
Even though most everyone in Switzerland speaks English, I found it great fun to use a little German from time to time. My Swiss cousins said that my pronunciation was pretty good. As a result, I was encouraged not to give up on German. I have gone back to "Duolingo", and I have started from the beginning. I want to retain what I have already learned and to relearn what I have already forgotten. Perhaps I will even manage to progress a little farther, and by the time I make it to Switzerland again I will be able to speak more.
There are plans in the works to travel to Portugal next summer. Years ago I spent a few days in Brazil. (Brazil speaks Portuguese, not Spanish!) I taught myself a few polite phrases. However this time I want to be able to speak more. Two nights ago I started the Portuguese lessons on "Duolingo". Portuguese, of course, is very similar to Spanish, so it will be much easier than German for me. Most of the words I have encountered so far are easily recognizable. For example, in Spanish the word for "book" is "libro", in Portuguese it is "livro". "Woman" in Spanish is "mujer"; in Portuguese it is "mulher". Even the verb conjugations seem to be almost identical. The present tense conjugation of the verb "to eat" in Spanish is: como, comes, come, comemos, comen. In Portuguese it is : como, comes, come, comemos, comem. The only stumbling block will be pronunciation. Portuguese has a lot of diacritical marks which change the sound of vowels and consonants. There are nasal vowel sounds similar to French, and some consonants that sound more like Italian.
After just two lessons, "Duolingo" says that I am 6% fluent in Portuguese. This is not nearly as preposterous as my supposed 34% fluency in German. Although I still can't say much, I can already read and understand a fair amount.
We will see how it goes.
Até logo. Hasta luego. Until later.