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The Spanish Challenge: a Surprise Return to Paracas, Peru

Men scurry along either side of the barrier which divides the congested highway in two. They carry paper-covered boxes of snacks to sell to car drivers through their windows: small biscuits, wafers, hot peanuts. Boys with stacks of newspapers pass women wearing tracksuits and pushing supermarket trolleys, who yawn as they delve inside their bumbags filled with loose change. The […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Walking the Camino with Spaniards

The Spanish Challenge: Walking the Camino with Spaniards

NB: Long-term readers may remember that during my travels through South America, I wrote a series of articles about my Spanish learning progress called ‘The Spanish Challenge’. It’s been a while since I added to the series – but the Camino is the perfect place for its resurrection! “Que es una chinche?!” It was almost […]

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Confessions of a Camino Newbie

“Is my little toe supposed to feel numb?” I’m walking through the forests of Sigulda with Janis, my Latvian guide. I’m wearing newly purchased hiking boots with equally new insoles which the shrewd saleswoman in Cotswolds Outdoors insisted I needed. I’m hyperaware of how my feet feel. At each step, with every shifting muscle and every twinge […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Being a Journalist in Colombia

Coming to Medellin was always supposed to be the final push on my Spanish skill levels. I would live and work in the Colombian city for four months, emerging with not just a introduction to journalism under my belt, but also with an easy fluency in the Spanish language and a legacy of Colombian friends […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Learning How to Argue

After a year of travelling through South America, something about the Spanish language has become acutely clear to me. From my foreigner’s perspective, I’ve realised that it’s not enough to have a vague understanding of what people are saying, or be able to respond with a few choice phrases and bits of vocabulary. More and […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Don’t Speak English in Bolivia

Hola mis amores! El artículo de hoy es un poco diferente, porque ahora estoy en Bolivia – y mientras yo estoy aquí, he decidido que no voy a hablar nada de inglés. Sólo en español. Buena suerte para mí, no? … Just kidding. To those who don’t understand the above, hopefully the title will have […]

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Two Weeks of Spanish Classes with Nueva Lengua

The beginning of September has brought with it the sudden realisation that I’ve been in South America for seven months. Which means I’ve also been speaking Spanish for the same amount of time – or at least attempting to. When I first arrived in Ecuador, I barely knew a single Spanish phrase. And after an […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Achieve Fluency Before Leaving South America

Six months ago, I relocated to Ecuador, a Spanish speaking country, with little to no Spanish speaking skills of my own. I moved in with a host family, started volunteering as an English teacher at a local high school, and attempted the task of learning Spanish. Half a year later and I’m sad to say […]

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The Spanish Challenge: Giving Up English for Lent

One of my major reasons for moving to Ecuador was to learn Spanish properly. I’ve tried learning languages before, and it’s never gone too well, despite my best efforts to the contrary. Years of primary school French resulted solely in a haphazardly memorised version of Frere Jaques; Italian GCSE threw me at the last hurdle […]

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Am I Incapable of Learning Spanish?

The more I travel, the more I feel the need to learn the language basics of the country I’m in. Getting to grips with ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, ‘what’s your name’ and ‘how are you?’, and the all important ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ is simply common courtesy, and everything else you pick up is a bonus. But ever since […]

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