I am sitting in my office listening to Victor Manuelle on my headphones, closing in on the end of my three-month Spanish learning Challenge. This has been a wonderful experience for so many reasons. Having a structure and a real challenge has pushed me to study every night, or more honestly, most nights. Now when I listen to Victor Manuelle's salsa songs I actually understand some of the lyrics and the meaning he is singing about. Even that limited insight gives me a feel for where he is coming from and the culture that he is singing about.
I have settled into a bedtime routine of reading an article from either El Nuevo Herald of Miami or El Diario of New York and reviewing my vocabulary list on Google Translate. I find myself dreaming about some vocabulary words from time to time. That is probably not a coincidence. A recent study featured in Physics Today magazine has shown that studying a language just before sleep improves the speed of memorizing new vocabulary. See: The benefit of studying language before sleep
In the morning I watch 15 minutes of Despierta America on Univision. I am gradually getting to understand more of what they are saying, and enjoying how they say it—lots of movement, hand gestures and genuine excitement. It is such an incredibly wholesome and positive show, and so unabashedly patriotic. It reminds me how our country is so reenergized and strengthened by immigrants who come to America to fulfill their dreams. Unlike China, Japan, South Korea, Russia or most of Europe with shrinking workforces, the American workforce is growing, thanks to our immigrants. See section III of this report from The Economist: profile-of-the-global-workforce-present-and-future. Immigration is a source of strength for our country, not of weakness as some would have us believe.
The Challenge has given me reason to keep learning Spanish. Once again I have found that learning a language has begun to open a whole new world to me. Now I can't wait to get to point where I can more fully experience it.