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Best Ways To Learn A Foreign Language

“Kathleen and Lief, met you both at the Panama conference held in 2010. Lief brought me and my sister to see Los Islotes.

“Kathleen, just read your letter re birthing in Waterford, Ireland. My congratulations to you both for sticking to your dream. I was truly impressed!

“Next time you go to Pedasi, take a two-day vacation at Villa Romana, a small boutique hotel 20 minutes south of Pedasi. It’s owned by an American and his beautiful, vivacious Colombian wife. At the time we were there they had a French chef. Google it and watch their video. It is unique and special. (They can even pick you up from the airport.)

“Lief, hope you still have room for the hundredth member. Just saw your advert.

“My best wishes to you both.”

–Michael O., United States

***

“Kathleen, for learning Spanish, which online- or DVD-based course do you recommend?”

–Daniel T., United States

I’ve not had personal success with any of the online courses I’ve tried over the years, though I’ve known people who’ve been happy with the progress they made with the help of Rosetta Stone products. Languages don’t come easy to me. I struggle still with the two languages I’ve been trying to learn for decades now, French and Spanish.

My French was improved significantly with the help of a four-week total-immersion program I enrolled in a few months before we moved from Paris to Panama City. From 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. five days a week for a month, I was not permitted to speak a word of English, thanks to my strict professor. My basic skills progressed more in those four weeks than they had in all the four years prior that we’d been living in Paris.

Here in Panama, my Spanish has been most helped by the patient tutorage of Olga, our housekeeper. Olga is from Colombia and speaks no English. She teaches me a new word or two each day and corrects my grammar.

The best way to learn a new language? Get a boyfriend or girlfriend, as the case may be, who speaks only the language you’re trying to acquire. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s how our daughter Kaitlin learned to speak French when we were living in France.

Your New Life In Panama

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