“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Not only do Gandhi’s word speak to how I want to live, but they voice the spirit of learning I want to embody, as a wife, mother, and, language learner.
I may be a Spanish/English bilingual, but English is currently my dominant language, and I have had a newfound realization as a first-time mamá that there are muchas, muchas palabras por aprender in Spanish (the language I’m raising E. in). So, today, I’m excited to share with you a little language adventure I embarked on this past month, turning a normally bleak and lifeless January into 31 days of amping up my vocabulario.
Fellow language blogger Lindsay, of Lindsay Does Languages, initiated a month-long Instagram Language challenge in January, inviting all “lingoholics” to learn a new word in a second language each day for a month, photographing that word and posting it on Instagram. At the end of the month she interviewed a few of us who participated. If you’d like to see Lindsay’s original post, which includes feedback from several other bloggers and language lovers, you can check it out here. I’ve expanded on my original interview with Lindsay here in today’s blog post (questions are Lindsay’s).
Why did you decide to join the Instagram Language Challenge?
Like I wrote here in this post, I never ever make New Year’s Resolutions. I find them to be artificial and forced (not that goal-setting is intrinsically bad). Nonetheless, participating in the Instagram Language Challenge throughout January turned out to be fun: it combined my love for language (in particular, Spanish) and my love for using my iPhone to take pictures. Although I can’t remember how I came across the Instagram Language Challenge, I’m glad I did. It served as a smaller goal post in my broad-sweeping mommy resolution to increase my input in Spanish on behalf of my daughter.
In case you’re new to the blog (welcome, by the way!), I am a trained linguist (Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Master’s degree in Language Acquisition) and a lover of all things Spanish. That was one of the reasons for joining Lindsay, and others, in this month-long language challenge. That, and because I’m raising my daughter bilingually (English/Spanish). Since I only speak to her in my second language, Spanish, I have made a personal commitment to increase my OWN input, reading more and learning new words (if daughter is learning, so is mamá!).
How did you decide on the words each day?
Each day of the month corresponded to a different word type (hashtag). Some of the words included “light,” “friend,” “digital,” “action,” and “celebrate.” So, for each assigned hashtag, I would ask myself, “okay, is there a corresponding word in English that you DON’T know in Spanish?” That would be my word for the day. To help me uncover the gaps in my Spanish vocabulary, I would consult my husband D., a Spaniard, usually during our daily family walks around the neighborhood. Pointing to random objects, I would ask him, “¿Y esto, cómo se dice en castellano?” Or ¿Tenéis una palabra en español para ____?” Additionally, many of my new words have come from the books and blogs I’m reading, in particular, the 600-page novela that my cuñada gave me last March for my birthday, El Tiempo Entre Costuras.
What are you doing to follow up with the words you’ve learned?
Although I didn’t take a photo every day in January, I appreciated participating in the challenge because it kept the idea of learning and acquiring new vocabulary at the forefront of my mind. An additional vocabulary-learning strategy that I have been using for a few months now is taping new words (or words I’ve forgotten and haven’t used in a while) in Spanish to the insides of my kitchen cabinets (I spend a lot of time in the kitchen), so when I’m cooking and doing dishes, I’m constantly looking at, thinking about, and using new words. After a week or so, I’ll move the words up to the top of the cabinet door to make way for new words. If nothing else, they are a conversation starter when friends come over for dinner. Ha!
Interested in participating in the February Instagram Language Challenge? Maybe with your family? You can find me on Instagram (@espanolitablog) using the hashtag #IGLC. Why not join us in the language challenge?