crazy_womanOne of the things I have been doing to prepare for my mission trip to Ecuador is to try to take a super crash course in Español.   Now mind you, I am 43.  I had a little french in school. Not Spanish… French.   And luckily I lived in states like Arizona, California, and New Mexico where I could pick up a few words here and there.  But, no conversational aspects at all.

OY FRIJOLES !!  My brain is melting! {My made up Spanish expression… as far as I know}

Our team has known we were going to go to help orphans in Manta, Ecuador since about mid to late February. One of the first things that we realized is that… we white Vermonters have no clue how to communicate with the orphans, let alone anyone else in Manta!  None of us has taken any sort of Spanish.  In the grade schools they’re teaching French… again with the French!!

Some may say ,”Well great – you’ve had a language you can transfer that knowledge over to Spanish and you’ll be all set!”  Um, no.  Not even close.  In french they mush sounds together, especially vowels and they don’t have any extra letters that make funny sounds all together different from the letters they look like. French is through the nose. Spanish will tie your tongue in knots!!

In Spanish  Z’s sound like S’s but so do C’s and S’s.  Nothing sounds like Z.  In Spanish H’s are silent but J’s sound like H’s. Then you have the LL’s which sounds like Y’s  but the Y’s sound like the long E sound and so do I’s .  Then there’s the ñ which sounds like ‘nyuh”.  Cu sounds like KW and Qu sounds like K. HolyCow smallm

And don’t even get me started on the accents!

Vaca Sagrada (thanks Bing Translator)!!  {Holy cow} Accents are no mis amigos at this point in the game.   True, they’re used for reading and writing, and if I  just plan on talking then I should be all, set. But the thing is the accents change the meaning of some words entirely!  Okay, so you could  say “Tengo 43 años”.  {I am 43 years old}.  But you have to make sure you pronounce the “nyuh” sound.   If you say it with out the accent, “Tengo 43 anos” you are 43 anuses, and who wants to admit that??

spanish for kidsI have found some tools helpful.  Now mind you, just because I am old doesn’t mean I think or learn old.  So I decided the best way to learn is to find a DVD that teaches grade school aged kids Spanish.  I went on and I ordered Spanish for kids volume 1.   Oh, it was great! It’s Carlos’ birthday! We learn about counting, and gifts, and some family members and we also get to sing about the colors of balloons!  Surely this will help me in Ecuador! Feliz cumpleaños, Carlos!

After dancing around and singing about birthday candles and balloons for a month or so, I decided that I should broaden my Spanish horizons and I ordered another DVD from  And have not been able to watch it. My circa 2000 DVD player has decided that it is just too tired.  Adios, DVD player.

I did find an app for my smart phone that is also online. This has been really helpful. I have learned all kinds of things. As you practice and gain levels, the complexity of the words you are practicing goes up.  I feel a little more confident in my conversation skills now…  un poco.