One would imagine that a young woman who started learning Spanish in high school would pretty much have it down by the time she reaches the “change of life.”  Sadly, that may not be the case.  And while the goal- fluency, remains the same, I’ve found that certain biological happenings call for adjusting one’s study habits. Therefore, I humbly offer a few tips for women of a certain age who are trying to learn a foreign language.

Photo by Lidyanne Aquino.

Typical nightlife. Photo by Lidyanne Aquino.

Put Your Insomnia to Work

Remember all those times you wished you had more time? Good news! Now you have it! The bad news is that that time is likely to come at four in the morning.  Not the best hour for going for a jog or practicing the piano, but a perfect time for studying.

My favorite method of middle-of-the-night studying is to lie in bed and listen to a language lesson on my ipod.  This allows to me stay warm and cozy under the blankets and leave the lights off so I that I won’t ward off sleep in the unlikely event it should return.  My brain is in a hypnotic netherworld and information seeps in.  I think.

Regardless, only one of two things can happen and both of them are good. Either you will learn something, or you’ll fall back to sleep. For any of my amigas out there who are learning Spanish, these are some of my favorite Spanish podcasts:

  • News in Slow Spanish – weekly half hour podcast about culture and current events
  • News in Slow Spanish Latino – like the one above with a focus on Latin America
  • Notes in Spanish – conversations between Ben (a Brit who married a Spaniard and now lives in Madrid) and his wife Marina, typically about 10-15 minutes long

Embrace New Vocabulary

You only learn the words you have occasion to need.  How lucky then, that there is suddenly a whole plethora of words for you to look-up and test out, words that you may not have tried to use up to this point:

  • Mood swings
  • Irregular
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Dryness
  • Bloating

…and the list goes on.

 Release The Psycho Bitch

(But is she the Psycho Bitch or the Psychic Bitch? I mean the fact that we’re unusually sensitive doesn’t necessarily mean we’re wrong.)

I enjoy learning swear words in Spanish, but I rarely use them.  Part of it is that most people are nice, and since I’m a guest here, I should be nice too. But when I am pissed enough to tell someone off, I don’t want to risk getting it wrong.  That would just be making a fool of myself, which I do often enough.

The fortunate thing about being a native English speaker is that the whole world knows what “Fuck you” means, so it’s easy to convey your anger.

But you never really master a new word until you use it.  So now is the time to let those chinga tu madre’s fly. Here are a few sites to help you swear in Spanish:


Photo by Jasondenys.

Still trying to figure it out…Photo by Jasondenys.

4 replies
  1. Judy
    Judy says:

    Great post, Jennifer! When the going gets tough… well, there are ways to compensate for having your sleep, brain, moods turned all upside down! I like the idea of using it for language acquisition. Must stop complaining!!! Thanks!

  2. Linda
    Linda says:

    Jennifer, Thanks for letting me know another reason for waking up at 2am besides relieving my bladder. Now I will study a new verb on my way to the bathroom.


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