My Sister lives in Lake Oswego near Portland. I live in Southern Oregon. We’ve always been very close, but the miles make it difficult to stay connected. As we are both retired, we have a bit more time to be creative about keeping connected. Staying connected in retirement is essential.
One of the ways we stay in touch is to take phone walks together. One of us will text and ask the other if they have time for a walk. Then we head out with our phones and have a wonderful conversation while getting a healthy walk. Before we started walking with our phones, I sometimes procrastinated getting out the door. Now I look forward to those walk-talks.
Yesterday, while enjoying one of our walk-talks, I asked my sister if she resurrected the French she had learned years earlier when she took a recent trip to France. She said that she actually used Spanish because her French was rusty, and her B&B host knew Spanish but not English.
My sister took a couple of Spanish language classes within the last few years and has been practicing regularly. Last month she took a trip to Cuba and was able to converse well enough in Spanish to get around without a problem.
I mentioned to my sister some of the research that touts the benefits of learning language as we age. According to an AARP article, learning a new language can challenge us, help us with memory, and can also help establish new neural pathways in our brain.
I had taken a couple of years of German in college but don’t remember a thing because I never used it. I told my sister that I wish I had taken Spanish instead. She suggested I try a free program called Duolingo that I could download on my phone and/or tablet. Once I learn some basic vocabulary, she’ll help me practice. Who knows—maybe in a year or two, well actually be able to have a conversation in Spanish rather than in English.
I tried my first 15-minute Spanish lesson using Duolingo today. It was fun and easy to use. It also had a lot of pictures (I love learning with pictures). I have the flexibility to carve out 15 minutes each day to keep my brain active and to enjoy something new my sister and I can appreciate together.
I just sent my sister a text in Spanish. I used Google Translate to compose a few simple sentences. My objective is to have fun, enjoy something with my sister, and maybe learn something new too!