Since graduating university, I’ve been toying with the idea of attempting to work in Spain, but never really put those ideas into movement. Something that’s necessary for working in another country is knowing the language. I don’t want to be that ignorant English person trying to get by with only the knowledge of hello, goodbye, yes, no and thank you. So, although I don’t have any set plans to work abroad, a couple of months ago I threw myself into learning some Spanish. When I was actually on holiday in Lanzarote in March, Flashsticks came to the rescue!
Flashsticks is a language learning system including post-it notes and an app. The thing is with learning a new language, you really need to be doing it regularly and fitting bits in every day to keep it going. One of the founders, Richard, starting writing himself words down on sticky notes and plastering them around his house. Discovering it was a great learning tool, he set out to make his own printed ones with a friend and voilà, Flashsticks was born. You can read a little more about that here. I think it’s interesting to see!
My favourite thing about the post-it notes are the colours. In Spanish (and other languages!) words are gendered. It still confuses me – how on earth can a table, or a book be gendered? They’re feminine and masculine respectively, if you were wondering. Anyway. The post-its are blue for masculine nouns, pink for feminine nouns and green for all other word types. Makes it so much easier to remember! I’ve never really thought I was a visual learner, but the colours definitely help.
As well as the post-it notes, there’s an app. Now this app has a bunch of different learning tools included. You can look through words, get an audio pronunciation, see a video of a tutor, get information on related words, how to use in a sentence, grammar notes and more. Once you’ve done that, you can move onto the games. These are just fun little ways to practise your memory on the words or the spelling of them. There’s a timer too, so it can get quite competitive trying to quickly get the words right!
And the main selling point? The app interacts with the post-it notes, and you can also scan random objects to get a translation. Definitely handy if you are abroad and struggling with the language! I’ve done a quick video of these tools in action, though apologies for the noise in the first section when scanning a chair. I did that on my balcony in lanzarote!
Now I am a complete beginner. I’ve done 5 years of French at school, and we had a taster week of Spanish. I do occasionally find myself thinking up a French word instead of the Spanish (who knew – I actually did learn something!) but I’ve surprised myself with how well I’m remembering things. When you put daily effort in, it really isn’t as difficult as you think. Now I’m not saying it’s easy – it’s far from that – but continuous work and practise keeps the language fresh in mind. Coupled with a few reminders dotted around your house, you’ll be saying random bits and bobs in no time.
The only downside for me is that the app needs wifi or data to use it. Not always handy when abroad, but I guess nowadays, most places do have wifi. I’m not ashamed to admit that I sat on the beach opposite a bar I’d been in the night before just to use the free wifi and get a little practise in… Currently my bedroom is filled with random post-it notes on my furniture, and I can tell you it’s definitely helping! In fact, my mum now calls my door la puerta regularly.