Tag Archives: Spanish Lessons

Learning Spanish

One of the first things you should do, when you decide to move to a Latin American country, is to learn to speak Spanish. You may say, you have no need, because you plan on associating primarily with Gringos and your need for Spanish will be minimal. Bad idea!

There are many ways to advance you Spanish skills. I have written about many of them in past posts. There are many classes to be had. Choose wisely, there are good ones and there are bad ones.

The Internet will help a lot. Try this website. It is a free site, but it allows you to listen to the sentences and see the same sentence in written form

There is another thing that I highly recommend. That is to find a good Spanish music station on the Internet. I recommend this station. You may need to put this URL into one of the music streaming software products. I use Amarok in Linux. You should be able to do the same with Winamp on Windows. It plays a lot of older Spanish music and they all sing well and pronounce all of the words well. It is important that you start to distinguish Spanish words. I am amazed how much of the music I can understand now.

You will enjoy the music, trust me. The following video is one of my favorite Spanish Artists. It will show you how beautiful Spanish music is.

Of course it is good to watch programs in Spanish on television. Some of the best, to learn Spanish from, are the novelas (soap operas). I guess soap operas are the same all over the world, so you will have a good idea what is going on. The novelas, I have heard, also tend to talk slower than other programs. The news is also a good thing to listen to.

The best way to learn is through immersion. Associate with the locals and you will find that your Spanish will expand fairly quickly. Besides learning the language, you will begin to learn the people and the culture. Not only that, but you will find yourself being accepted more.

Mángo Languages

I had a reader send me a link for a site called Mángo Languages. If you are planning a move to Panama, or another Latin American country, and have no Spanish language capability, this might be a good place to start. This is a online Web based set of lessons.

The interface is clean and provides both visual and auditory means to take you through the lessons. For a free resource on the Internet, I think you will find it beneficial in assisting you to get started in moving to and integrating into a Spanish speaking community.

Also, if you know Spanish speaking individuals, that want to learn English, it will help them as well. Thanks to the reader that sent the link.

A Gringo Add On For FireFox

If you are a gringo living in Latin America or thinking about moving to Latin America, and you aren’t proficient in Spanish, you will have a problem reading the local newspapers. Lucky for you, there is a nice language translation add-on for Firefox that will do a great job on most sites that are written in other than English. There is a list of links of Panama newspapers in Spanish located in the Chiriquí Chatter Link area. Try it out.

I have been using this for some time and it works like a charm. If you are one of the Spanish speaking readers that have stumbled onto Chiriquí Chatter, this will work for you as well translating from English to Spanish.

My Palm Replacement Arrived

Back in August I wrote that I had found what I hoped would be my replacement for my aging Palm Pilot. Well it came in last Friday. It is a Sony P910a cell phone. This is a new phone that Movistar has started carrying. While it is a new model here in Panama, it has been in the US for a couple of years. It is selling in Panama for $600, which was out of my ballpark.

I was fortunate enough to find one that an individual had in the US and since his company had given him a new Blackberry and he just wanted to get rid of it. I was able to get it for less than $50 and shipping and handling cost me about the same. Since it was valued at less than $50 there was not duty to pay. I was concerned about it getting here without damage, but it arrived and while it is about two years old, it looks like new. Continue reading My Palm Replacement Arrived

My Pappy Was A Pistol – I’m A Son Of A Gun

My Palm Pilot is close to biting the dust, but with a little luck, I will have a replacement next week. I have used it so much as my English to Spanish translator that I really don’t want to be with out this crutch. Most of the time my Spanglish gets me by, but every now and then you need an exact word to get your point across.

I have spent the last several months looking for what I wanted as a replacement, and I hope I made the right choice. I am not going to tell you what I ordered, I will just tempt you by saying that what I found looks as sexy as a three-peckered Billy goat. Let me tell you, that is plenty sexy. Now if it works as good as it looks, I will be happy.

I had to order it in the US and have seen that it has made its way to Florida and is in the hands of AirBox Express. That being the case, I should get it by next weekend. The main worry now is if it can make the short hop to Panama City and then to David without complications. Keep your fingers crossed.

I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my Billy goat description, but if I did I will blame it on my dad who sometimes used colorful expressions when he was excited.

How Do You Say This In Spanish?

Moving to a foreign country can be a real challenge. This is especially true if you don’t speak the language of the country. When I made the decision to move to Panama in 2002, one of the things that went through my mind was how I could use technology to assist in my language adjustment.

I had used a Palm type PIM (Personal Information Manager) for a long time. I call it my more dependable brain. Before coming to Panama I did a search for software for the Palm that would provide me with an English to Spanish dictionary. I downloaded several different products and tried them out. The one I settled on was from a company named Ultralingua. The product is designed for both Palm and Pocket PC devices, but I find that the Palm devices are typically a little smaller and provide all the function I need. The Palm requires you to learn its scrip language to enter words, since it doesn’t have a keyboard. Not to worry! It won’t take long to learn and when you do, it is faster than a keyboard.

You can tell from looking at my Palm (Actually, mine is a Palm branded as an IBM WorkPad), that it has had a lot of hard use.

I have it enclosed in an aluminum protective case.

I usually carry it in my right hip pants pocket, so the case needs to be strong. Even with that protection, over the years I still have a screen problem caused by dropping the device several times. Nonetheless, it still works and is still a part of my daily life. However, I have started looking for a newer replacement. I have been considering a cell phone that has the same functions such as the Palm Treo (Windows or Palm Powered).

One of these PIM’s with an English to Spanish dictionary is not going to be a replacement for learning the language, but it can get you out of a difficult spot. For instance, I could go into a store and when the attendant comes up and asks how they can help, I usually say I need an “fill in the blank”. Necesito un“—-“.

Assume that it is an envelope that I am looking for, I would enter “envelope” in the Palm and it would give me “sobre”. And I would say, “Necesito un sobre”. You get the idea.

When I bought my current PIM, I bought it on eBay for about $65. I am sure the next one I buy will cost more, especially if it is built into a cell phone. However, I think the phone would be nice, because I would carry it in a case on my belt and it wouldn’t need as durable a case as it would if I were going to carry it in my hip pocket. Besides, it would allow me to carry one less thing.

The Ultralingua software is going to cost $29 for a Palm or Pocket PC. If you aren’t used to using a PIM, I think you will find plenty of other uses besides just a language translator. You are going to need a place to store all the names, addresses and emails of all the friends you have left in your home country so you can write them and tell them what they are missing. You won’t have to worry about having a pad of paper to record the phone number for the “house for sale sign” on the property you see that you want to check on. And when you are sitting in a waiting room, you will have a solitaire game you can play to pass the time. Every Sunday at 9:00, mine tells me it is time to wind the clocks. If it didn’t, I am sure they would run down.

If you are thinking about moving to Panama and you don’t speak Spanish, I suggest considering one of these PIMs with an English to Spanish dictionary. It won’t remove your needing to learn Spanish, but it will help you during your transition.

Darío Quiroz – Spanish Lessons

I just received a call from Darío Quiroz who was the individual that I took Spanish lessons from. He has moved back to the building across from the Panama Rey Hotel in David. I know I have mentioned his name to several folks and if you are one of them you have been notified of his move. While his sign outside may say English Instruction, he is also available for private Spanish lessons. While, I do not have a current photo of Darío, here is one I took when he was teaching in Boquete. If you are interested in contacting him, his phone is  64689806 and this is Darío’s email .
Dario Quiroz