Wednesday, December 23, 2009

resolution countdown: día numero dos

quiero hablar español
holy grail of language learning, or just really good sales pitch?
image from rosettastone

i wish i could say that i busted out with that simple title phrase above on my own, but admittedly i had to get assistance from spanishdict (and it still might be wrong . . . feel free to correct me!).

if i had to make a top 10 list of major life mistakes, high on the list* would be the decision to take french in high school. my parents tried to convince me otherwise, but my reasoning at the time was clouded by:

a) what my friends were taking
b) what my crush was taking
c) what sounded 'cooler'

no, my 12-year-old brain was not capable of looking ahead or making sound decisions . . . which does not really surprise me now that i work with adolescents on a regular basis!

i guess my poor language choice was better that getting knocked up and smoking laced pot behind the bleachers. but it still had consequences, which are as follows:

• i forgot all my french because i never got to use it (and didn't learn it all that well in the first place)
• i can't speak directly with a high proportion of my patients.

yes, duke treats a high percentage of spanish-speakers! people are always surprised about this, but NC has one of the fastest growing populations in the US (and i can see this directly when i work in the newborn nursery! some BIG families continuing to grow there).

luckily, we are equipped with some amazing interpreters which make communication go fairly smoothly. our outpatient clinic even has two on-site at all times! so while espanol would have come in handy during residency, it wasn't ESSENTIAL.

the thing is: after allll the training (residency & fellowship) is over and done with, in 3.5 years, josh and i want to move to miami. and i would like to get a job in miami to put all of this training. i don't know what the proportion of spanish-speaking-only patients is down there, but my guess is that it's sky high. i'm actually worried that my monolingual tongue will make me less attractive to potential employers, not to mention slow and less effective at my job than a spanish-speaker.

i really doubt that i'll reach fluency in 3.5 years, but i would really like to start learning in the hopes that someday i'll be able to talk to patients sin interpeter . . . AND be able to understand all of the PA announcements at the miami airport.

i KNOW the best way to learn is to plunk down into a spanish-speaking country and just live there for months. but that's not an option for me at this point in my life . . . so what to do? i will look into taking an actual spanish class during my research years when my schedule is more flexible. but for now, i think i'm going to be on my own. i'm considering trying out rosetta stone, but wow - $$$! if i USE it and it works, it will be worth it, but if not . . . ouch.

you all were so helpful with your skin recommendations that i'll ask for input once again! anyone have experience learning a language as an adult? what did you use, and would you recommend it?

* i haven't actually made such a list, but i can imagine it would be interesting. and depressing!

skin is in
thank you all for your helpful comments yesterday! i'll post a run-down of your recommendations and the products i'm planning to try out sometime this week when i'm NOT running late for work.

off to the wards for the next 6 days of holiday coverage . . . i'm actually oddly looking forward to it. hospital pediatrics with no call, and 6 days off at the end? that is a holiday assignment to just embrace and be happy about.



workout: 45 minutes elliptical + weights
- 2 x 10 pushups
- 2 x 12 squats/tricep press, 10 lb weight
- 2 x 10 walking double lunges, 8 lb weights
- 2 x 12 seated rows, 40 lbs
- 2 x 10 lateral/forward raises with lunge, 5 lb weights
- 2 x 10 crunches and oblique crunches each side

culinary corner: KERF week, day 2! i have been wanting to make kath's nutty sweet potato & kale soup for MONTHS now -- ever since my sister tried it and said it was to-die-for good! but i didn't want to cheat on martha, and she had so many soups to get through. OCD much? perhaps.

but the soup recipe was still waiting for me when doin' time was finito. and since i'm now getting local produce delivery from bella bean, the timing worked out perfectly. this soup was actually made with local & organic kale, sweet potatoes, AND even NC peanuts!!

my sister was not exaggerating. this soup is FREAKING AMAZING. i'm serious -- i never thought i'd be this passionate about a soup, but . . . .it is velvety and almost dessert-like, with enticing exotic flavors and hearty kale which makes it a fulfilling and healthy dinner experience.

i am going to go out on a limb and name this soup MY FAVORITE SOUP OF ALL TIME. go make it!! link to the recipe on kath's site is on the sidebar.


  1. Anonymous8:14 AM

    I've heard good things about Rosetta Stone. I actually took Spanish for all of high school and 2 years of college and forgot 99% of it. Ugh.

  2. I have not used Rosetta stone, it is muy caro. I believe that it's main teaching method is visual, that is to say that it will show you pictures and then try to get you to make the associations.

    I am taking German with a private tutor as you know, but as a Resident, having a consistent time schedule is difficult.

    Fortunately, this crazy Internet of ours has given us some great tools for learning languages. (Farrah appreciates you taking French to be with your friends).

    Here are some GREAT websites: You basically can keep a blog in a second language and native speakers can easily make corrections. It is awesome. After an introductory test, you take courses and native speakers can correct your work. Not as social as lang-8 but it has better instruction.

    So, my take is NOT to buy rosetta stone but check out these social language websites. You'll have more fun too.

  3. Anonymous8:34 AM

    Delurking to say 1) love your blog, 2) I suggest comparing the cost of a personal tutor to the software, and 3) I live in South Florida (west of Fort Lauderdale) and do a lot of health care marketing work in Miami (Aventura mostly right now) will thank yourself in the long run for learning conversational Spanish.

    - Christine

  4. Anonymous9:05 AM

    yup your title is correct :)

    and i was the same way with my thinking when i took french in middle school, high school and the beginning of college. luckily i still speak french which made my transition to spanish easier. (warning: even though french and spanish are not really close it was still confusing at first. you prolly remember more french than you think you do)

    obv i was able to take a class because i'm still an undergrad and i'd advocate highly for that. even though your life is wicked crazy i think that would be the best as there really is no substitute for conversing with other people. at a school as big as duke they prolly have lots of classes for beginners too.

  5. YAY SOUP!! It was my favorite of all time too. Must make it again soon!

  6. I have used ChinesePod- and it turns out there's a SpanishPod, too! It's great because you can download podcasts for free, and upgrade later if you really stick with it.
    I think the ChinesePod came first so there might be more stuff available but it's great- there are lessons by level and they're entertaining and super-useful. Good to listen to while you're running!

  7. My son is homeschooled and we use Rosetta Stone for his Spanish lessons. Its a marvelous (but expensive) piece of software.

  8. I'm in a similar situation as you, I took French all throughout high school and then regretted that decision after I started working in a hospital. It's amazing how many patients speak Spanish! I started taking classes in Spanish and have not tried Rosetta Stone, though I've heard decent things about it.

  9. Anonymous11:35 AM

    i would really advise against rosetta stone. rosetta stone requires you to be entirely self-motivated while shelling out hundreds of dollars. not sayin' you aren't self-motivated, but you know how life can get sometimes. like a lot of things, language learning works best with a buddy who can help hold you accountable.

    the best way in my opinion is to learn basics on your own, and then take an intensive class. that way you're learning the easy, basic stuff first and doing a class once you've hit the stuff that's harder. (i've taken basic classes before and they suck because no one can have even the most basic conversation yet. you wind up wasting a lot of time learning how to count and saying hello/goodbye. easily done on your own.)

    to learn basics, try getting a book+CD to start you off, along with a language exchange partner. try looking on craigslist or other websites for someone who would be willing to teach you spanish in exchange for you helping them with their english. this is also a good site:

    also, don't entirely count out the idea of going to a foreign country. there are plenty of programs you can do, from just a week to months. there's nothing like being immersed in a language to help your learning process.

    buena suerte : )

  10. Muy bien, Sarah! Puedes practicar con migo.

  11. Anonymous1:23 PM

    If you do decide to get Rosetta Stone, it is a bit cheaper on Amazon.

  12. I also made the mistake of taking French in high school. I love it, but not very useful! I can tell you my experience working in a Miami hospital. It's really expected of you that you know Spanish. 75% of Miami residents do not speak English at home. Nurses will switch from English to Spanish on you. A large number of patients will not speak English, or they will tell you they don't speak English so they can speak to another doctor in Spanish, because it is more comfortable for them (and hey, they're in a high stress situation anyway!). I can speak some basic Spanish about food, but a lot of times since my Spanish is definitely not perfect, patients would just request to speak with one of the native Spanish speakers in our office. Good luck learning with Rosetta Stone! The commercials make it sound great :)

  13. Carolyn9:57 PM

    My friend and I have recently started doing weekly "Spanish classes" together at her home. She purchased the Visual Link software awhile back and we are both considering moving to Mexico (or a southern state) in the next few years so we knew we needed get started on learning. Since we are not too far into it and she has the Visual Link program I am not sure fully how it compares to but I do know it is very extensive and less expensive than Rosetta Stone.

  14. That soup looks fan-freakin-tastic! I love the idea of peanuts on top for crunch.

  15. I took Latin in high school (and college). At least French is still a spoken language ...

  16. atilla4:48 PM

    rosetta has this deal with a three month trial for 150 bucks . that's a lot but it will give you an idea as to wether or not it works for your schedule

  17. I took German in high school...only helpful when I was in Europe! I've thought about learning Spanish too, but Rosetta Stone is so expensive. I'm going to look into some of the suggestions people had above.

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