For me, one of the luxuries of this time is the opportunity to learn Spanish. I’ve now taken 6 weeks of intensive Spanish (4 hours per day), supplemented with apps, videos and podcasts. And I’ve tried to use my limited but slowly growing vocabulary with any ticos (local Costa Ricans) I meet. (This is actually harder than you would expect, because many of them speak decent English, and they want to be helpful so they switch to English as soon as it’s obvious how poor my Spanish is.)
Little by little, it’s working! Before we arrived, my Spanish language proficiency was limited to ordering at taco trucks. (“Dos tacos al pastor, por favor!”) Now, I can carry on a basic conversation. When others are talking, I can usually understand a lot of what they are saying. When emailing or sending a WhatsApp to local folks, I always write it in Spanish, although it takes about ten times longer for me to work out the verb conjugations, look up new vocabulary, and then double check everything. (Thanks, Google Translate!)
I’m grateful to have access to so many resources. I have found these especially helpful: the SpanishDict app, the DuoLingo app (in the very beginning), the Spanish Dude videos, CoffeeBreak Spanish podcast and Duolingo podcast.
Learning Spanish has also reminded me how grateful I am to Mrs. Petty, my 11th grade English teacher at Arlington High School in upstate New York, who was such a stickler for English grammar and had us diagram many sentences, and having that background has helped me learn Spanish grammar. Gracias la señora Petty!