Dear Reader, I’ve been busy wrapping up my Spanish course. My class ends in two weeks. I’m feeling good about my progress and am increasingly confident that I will pass my final exam. I won’t know for certain until I take the exam during last weekend in May. Wish me luck.
In June, before I leave for Paraguay, I will retest in French and German to increase my scores. Although I have studied neither language in the past decade, I’ve learned the tools and techniques needed to increase my scores at this language school. If I can pass a certain threshhold in both of those languages, then I will qualify for short courses in those language and additional assignments at posts that require those languages. "World" languages such as Spanish, French, and German are spoken at multiple locations in many countries. Other, more difficult languages such as Arabic, Chinese, and Russian are also useful languages from the perspective that they give candidates additional job opportunities.
Next year I will enroll in the online Spanish-to-Portuguese conversion course in order to learn rudimentary Brazilian Portuguese. Portuguese is spoken in eastern Paraguay, and it is also related to Spanish. Learning Portuguese would allow me to pursue assignments in the six countries where Portuguese is the primary language. (Here’s a quiz, Dear Reader. Can you name all six nations where Portuguese is an official language? Here’s a hint–Brazil is one of those countries. The answer* is listed at the end of this post.) Although I’ve heard that it’s more difficult to convert from Spanish to Portuguese than vice versa, converting my Spanish knowledge to Portuguese will be much easier than learning Korean after studying Chinese. I’m happy that my Spanish has improved to proficiency, because Portuguese would be yet another language I speak and read poorly. My Chinese, Korean, German, and French are all at the beginner-to-intermediate level.
Perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of studying Spanish is that it has revived my confidence that I can successfully study a foreign language. After ten years of exclusively studying Asians, I found myself increasingly frustrated at language learning. For western speakers, Asian languages can make you feel stupid. I recall several times during my Korean language study when I felt like an idiot. I’m frustrated a bit now by Spanish verb tenses, but the feeling is very mild compared to what I went through studying Chinese and Korean.
* The six nations where Portuguese is an official language are Portugal, Brazil, Angola, East Timor, Mozambique, and Sao Tome & Principe.