Written By Albert Lam
My challenge was to spend 20 minutes a day trying to learn Spanish with Duolingo, an app that can teach you foreign languages. Now it might not seem like much of a challenge, but keep in mind that I have been fully committed to speaking Chinese since I was a kid.
I started to learn Chinese when I was four, all the way until last year (my sophomore year). I had ben learning Chinese everyday, not once a week every Sunday. Since I grew up with Chinese being my first and second language, I am only familiar with Chinese or English. Spanish has different grammar rules than Chinese and English and that is what the challenge is. I did this because I have always seen Spanish as the major American second language. Chinese is a big part of San Francisco but not America, so to me, learning Spanish is my way of being more American. I also see learning Spanish as a way to expand my linguistic capabilities and future job opportunities. Recently I had traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, and after a tour of the city, I wanted to learn more about the whole culture right nextdoor. Plus, who wouldn’t want to multilingual?
Going into this challenge, I did not expect much. My goal was very simple, get a glimpse of Spanish over a short amount of time. The first few days were definitely a challenge because I could not roll my R’s, plus the masculine and feminine rules made it just a touch harder. Learning on Duolingo was actually really strange because within the first day I could probably get myself some apples using Spanish. Whereas in learning something like Chinese, you have to start with the strokes, how to write Chinese and the first ten numbers. Learning with Duolingo was surprisingly not as hard as I had thought it would be. The app was fun and easy to use which made learning a new language just that much easier. Just a few days in, I was talking with my friend Crystal who took Spanish 3 before and I wanted her to judge my Spanish. She said my Spanish was actually pretty good for only one week on an app. Just the fact that I could carry a simple conversation in a foreign language within the first few days was unbelievable. One thing did bother me though, people were confused to as why I had chose to learn a new language as my challenge. To that I have to say, why not?
After a short week of learning basic Spanish, I felt like a new person. Not to be cliche but it kind of made me look at life with a new perspective. The last few days had gone a lot better than the first because my understanding of the grammar had improved throughout the challenge. I would not say that there would be any huge noticeable results, but in my eyes I think I improved a lot. Learning a drastically different language from your own was definitely very hard but this made me feel young again. Even though I am sixteen I already feel pretty old, because I have seen the world around me change so much to the point where I would have never imagined. The feeling with struggling on grammar brought back many memories to when I was child trying to get the hang of Chinese, and now I can get people to question my birthplace because of my Chinese. Overall I am satisfied with what I had accomplished in the last week but I do not want it to stop there. In college I might want to take on Spanish as a foreign language just because of how interesting it was learning it.