Originally Posted by pilot
I second that. Traveling by myself without knowing hardly any Spanish made me feel isolated, even in crowds. A weeks worth in Guatemala last winter really helped, but next trip I'm doing the emersion route for two or three weeks.
Everybody is different in regards to how they soak it up and use what they've learned.
A few years ago while eating breakfast in Batopilas, hardybaker told me that if I didn't learn some spanish I was cheating myself. I don't mind traveling in countries where i don't understand the language, but knew he was right. And because I planned to start spending more time south of the border I decided to take a few classes.
I did a week (5 days) of 3 hrs per day in San Cristobal a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. After I got back home, it felt like it was all lost, but on my next trip things kinda clicked again.
Last year I did another week of 4 hrs per day in Antigua and that was fun. More was clicking and I would engage the locals more often.
IMHO, one week isn't nearly enough, but I can't stay in one place for very long. I think 2 weeks of classes would be worth 3x 1 week in comprehension. Using (or at least trying to) is the key. Don't be shy and don't be afraid of seeming stupid. 99% of the people are helpful.
Try asking for WD-40 (in what Spanish you know) in a ferreteria and watch the counter guys laugh.
I'm planning to do another 4 hr per day week in both Oaxaca and in Grenada this winter.
Donde esta la tienda economica parra muchas cervezas frias?