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Rory Laird – Learning To Speak Spanish (and Play the Quena) One Day at a Time

Dive: Linguist - Spanish
Description: Can read, write, speak, and understand Spanish
Level: Level 1
Level Requirements: Can read, write, speak, and understand Spanish at a basic level
Certified On: Jan 21, 2020

Editor’s Note: On all dive certifications, we try to edit the writing as little as possible to preserve authenticity, personality, and writing style. We typically fix spelling errors, but minimally modify grammar and sentence structure (just enough to ensure readability).

Rory Laird

Name: Rory Laird Break Diving Level: Recruit Number of Certified Dives: 3 From: United States In: United States

1. When and Why Did You Decide to Pursue This Dive At This Level? What was your inspiration and motivation?

I’ve enjoyed learning, off and on over the years, but have really probably only dreamt of being fluent since, I guess when I spent a week in Spain for work. I loved the culture there, the way the language flowed so rhythmically. I saw a flamenco show and, though none of the emotional content of the story was lost in my shaky understanding of the words themselves, it all just left me wanting to infuse Latin culture into my soul. I came back and worked hard to learn the language for a few months, but listening to podcasts and keeping a notebook of phrases was not working and eventually I phased out of my interest in learning the language. A few years passed. Recently, though, I began learning to play the quena (a traditional Peruvian/Bolivian flute). In my search for instruction online, finding most resources in Spanish, I was excited to again have a reason to pick Spanish back up and try something different.

2. How Long Did It Take For You To Accomplish This Dive At This Level From The Day You Decided To Pursue It, And Why Did It Take That Long?

It’s tough to say exactly how long it’s taken to reach this level since the day I first decided. It’s tough really to pinpoint the day I made the decision, and the commitment over the years has been wavering at best. I guess I’ve been studying it over the course of 20 years. I started with Spanish class in high school learning very little because, in my ignorance, I didn’t think I’d have any use for it. Over the years to come, I was always excited to get a job with a native Spanish speaker – learning to communicate job level information in Spanish made the work feel like fun for me, at least as much as it could be. Still, these times never really accounted for more than a few words and phrases. When I took that work trip to Spain, I started practicing phrases and vocabulary a few days before leaving, and absolutely loved just trying shamelessly to practice my Spanish with everyone I came across.

3. What Was The Hardest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

I learned an interesting thing about myself because of the Spain trip experience. If I meet an obvious Spanish speaker in the US (or in any similar context), I feel like trying to speak Spanish will be offensive or disrespectful, like I’m assuming they can’t speak English. But when I met Spanish speaking people in Spain (everyone I met), I felt like trying to speak the language was the most respectful way I could carry myself, and it felt like ‘playing’ in the language. Always holding back from practicing in those spontaneous opportunities in real life, perhaps a common thing or maybe just my hangup, has been the source of the greatest challenge I think.

4. What Was The Easiest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

Playing in the language with natives, learning to feel the vibrant cultures from which the language has evolved, soaking it in (in fun and natural conversation) has been the easiest part. Even when my speech is wholly flawed I am learning and improving, and that’s what’s most important.

5. What Is Your Advice For Someone Who Is Pursuing This Dive And Level?

I think that it’s important to have the right reason, first and foremost. If you’re struggling to find a reason to learn Spanish, but you still need to or just want to, I would suggest taking some time to learn about a few Latin cultures and searching for things that interest you within them. For me, it was the music of Spain and the rich and magical traditions of the Andes. I think when you find aspects of a culture that you want to embody, you begin to resonate with the language a little more naturally. Beyond that, seek out opportunities to use the language long before you’re “good” at it. Just play in the language and let it be fun!

6. What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive At This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them? Please Include Relevant Weblinks, If Applicable.

If you're learning Spanish, you can start here.

Resource 1: Break Diving - Break Diving has a community of Spanish speakers.

Resource 2: Duolingo - You can learn the basics here.

Resource 3: -

Resource 4: -

Resource 5: -

7. Tell Us A Story Of One Of Your Adventures While Pursuing This Dive (At This Level).

Mi Introducción

Me llamo Rory, y yo soy un Break Diver. Yo empecé la escuala tarde en comparación a la mayoría porque era un soldado en el ejército de los Estados Unidos. ¿Te importa si yo intento hablar en español contigo? Yo quiero mucho aprendar el idioma. Ahora estoy aprendiendo paso a paso. ¡Muchas gracias!

8. What Evidence Did You Submit to Prove You Met the Requirements for This Dive and Level?

I made a number of posts in the Break Diving community in Spanish, and also practiced in the Spanish chat room. I also had a 30-minute video call with Break Diving staff member Monroe Mann, who formally tested me on my basic Spanish listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Finally, I share with you below some of my original writing in Spanish.

9. Will You Be Pursuing The Next Level For This Dive? If Yes, Why? If Not, Why Not?

The next level in this case is to have passed a certified and proctored basic language abilities test in Spanish. I recently was recommended the app Busuu, which not only teaches Spanish, but also provides certification tests up to level B2. I was told if I pass the Level A2 test at Busuu, that will help verify my Linguist – Spanish – Level 2 abilities. Level 2 is a ways off for me right now, but I have it in my sights, and want to take my Spanish speaking to the next level. Vocab on Drops, five minutes a day is great. Español Automatico podcast for an hour a day while I do my basic tasks. And of course, conversational practice participating with fellow Break Divers in the community.

10. What is the Break Diver's Creed?

No Rules. No Excuses. No Regrets.

Certificate photo:

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Rory Laird is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: Linguist - Spanish - Level 1. Congratulations ! Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

Certificate number: 21

The author above wrote this WYSEguidance post as one of the certification requirements to become certified by Break Diving, Inc. for a dive completed. Would you also like to find greater success, happiness, and friendship, and make genuine supportive connections with others around the world pursuing your same dreams? Come join us at Break Diving and soon your story will be the next one you read about on this site!

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