Quiero mejorar mi español.

In addition to my lifelong, ongoing quest to learn how to play the guitar well, I have been nursing my Spanish along for a the last 30 years.  In both cases, though, it just takes practice – which I never seem to be able to sustain for long periods of time.  My Spanish is ok, but I would really like to become fluent.   And that means broadening my vocabulary and hardening my grammar.  And practicing.

I have two Spanish novels on my bookshelf that I have started to read several times over the years, and with my spanish-english dictionary in hand, have made my way through a couple chapters.  It is hard work.  Not just for my brain, but for the manual back-and-forth effort of putting the book down to pick up the dictionary, then putting it down to pick up where I left off in the book.

So, for the umpteenth time, I picked up one of them again last week, a novel called Nada by Carmen Laforet.  I started at the beginning again.  After about 2 pages I paused and experienced a moment of inspiration:  wouldn’t it be great if I could read this book on an e-reader that would look up a word for me on the fly with the mere touch of a finger?  What a great idea, maybe someone has thought of that already!  😉

I have a five year old 1st generation Kindle Fire with a kindle e-reader built in.  So I downloaded a sample of the e-book version of Nada for free from Amazon and tried it out.  But, alas, the device only has an English dictionary built in.  I found a helpful document that explained that, unlike later Kindles, the 1st generation Fire does not support changing the default dictionary.   Strike one.

I also have a Kindle e-reader app on my Mac.  So I tried the same thing with it.  But switching dictionaries was also not possible in that scenario.  Strike two.

I understand the kindle e-reader for iPhone and iPad may support what I want to do, but I’m really not interested in reading a book on my phone – too small.  Nor buying an iPad – too expensive.

So, then I began to research whether what I wanted to do would even be possible with a new e-reader device, like the Kindle Paperwhite.  And it appeared to be.  There were two ways I could do it.  One requires being connected to wifi to look up each word, by using the built-in “translate” feature, but that was not what I wanted.  I don’t want to have to be online to lookup words.  The other method requires downloading a Spanish-English translation dictionary to the device, and then making it the default dictionary for spanish e-books.   Bingo.  Sounded like a plan.

IMG_9108

I am typically slow to embrace new technology and gadgets.  But when I find a use for them that is important to me, I don’t waste time!  So, I splurged and ordered the Kindle Paperwhite, which arrived yesterday.  And in a matter of minutes I was in business.   As of this morning, I am 10% of the way through the book.  And I can almost feel my brain expanding.  🙂  Home run!

By the way, this is the Spanish-English translation dictionary I’m using.  Seems to work great for what I want to do.  Even better, I downloaded it for free by using the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library perk that comes with my Amazon Prime membership.

I also found a great free app for my iPhone called Duolingo, which seems to be a very decent tool for practicing and learning.  I’ve even started trying to learn French and Irish with that app.   Now THAT’S going to take a looooong time, but what the heck.   Anyway, if you have any interest in learning or polishing your foreign language skills, check it out.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s