Entry 0: Let's Learn Spanish!

Tue Nov 2 10:00:00 PM EST 2021

There are several times during my life where I have attempted to learn Spanish. During elementary school and high school I resisted learning and resented the fact that I was forced to learn something stupid which I would never use. Later I married a puerto rican who has family that only speak Spanish. Since I found a motivation to learn I have tried several different methods over the years. I have tried various programs made for the purpose of learning language such as Duolingo, I have tried watching movies in Spanish, I have tried watching Spanish TV, music and even reading books but none of it stuck. I even attempted to learn from my wife which was one of the least effective methods. One reason for this may be that these approaches often focus on vocabulary memorization. I have learned that vocabulary is counterintuitively the least important part of learning a language. Learning broad rules and how to find cognates is the fastest way to bootstrap a language to become conversational. Lucky for me, learning Spanish as an English speaker should be pretty easy as there are many similarities between these two languages (so I've been told) and if anything, Spanish is structurally simpler and is spoken phonetically without the many exceptions we memorize in English. So let's give it a go!

I found an audio course which uses a conversational learning style implementing the principles outlined above. Language Transfer has an audio series which can be freely downloaded. Language Transfer offers courses in French, Swahili, Italian, Greek, German, Turkish, Arabic and Spanish. It looks like a really awesome project that is worth supporting. If you want to follow along and learn Spanish as well, you can download the app, go through soundcloud, youtube, or download the entire course here as drm-free mp3's. I was very happy with this option so I downloaded the 90 lesson course which was packaged as a 794 MB zip file. I've already gone through the first few lessons and I am very impressed so far. The great thing about an mp3 file is that you can play it anywhere using any software you like. Somewhere there is a person who would use Powerpoint. I am going to be using the terminal but you can use whatever you want. I am going to document the process in case someone is interested.

Nothing special here, the archive is extracted. Before you unzip the mp3 files you may want to create a folder for the course. This archive is not packaged as a directory so if you extract it into your Downloads folder ~90 mp3 files will spill out into your Downloads folder. I prefer to keep things neat.

Cmus is a simple way to play mp3 files. You can navigate the file system using the '5' key, select your destination with the arrow keys and 'Enter' and when you need to pause that can be done with 'c'. Just like that and we are off to the races.