When I first travelled to Greece in 1979, English was not so widely spoken and all signs were, understandably, in Greek. Now it is rare to see even a road sign that is not translated into the Latin alphabet, as used in English and most other European languages. To make my life easier for travelling around Greece, I dutifully learnt the country's alphabet with its false friends like B which is actually a V, or P which is in fact an R. It was invaluable, especially when it came to deciphering the destinations of the buses that we caught repeatedly.
Apart from a few basic words, however, I have never mastered the language. Somehow when you travel somewhere and everyone appears to speak such impeccable English you are very discouraged and end up telling yourself that it is hardly worth the effort.
It has, however, always been my intention in retirement to learn more foreign languages and in light of the fact that it is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, Spanish is top of the list. With an ambition to travel widely, I believe that it would certainly be wise to expand the limited vocabulary that I currently possess in circumstances where hand signals only go so far. That said the thought of evening classes has no lure; it's that commitment thing again and if there is one thing that I don't want to be doing at this stage of my retirement it is over-committing.
Learning from a text book is, of course, not only old hat but also very difficult although useful if you have a desire to decline verbs as was the old fashioned way at school: Amo, Amas, Amat etc.. The eldest has, however, introduced me to Duolingo a brilliant little app which I have downloaded onto the iPad and which constantly introduces you to new words and sentence structures, and tests you regularly even sending daily alerts reminding of the need to practice. However, progress is still slow and I am beginning to wonder about going native and immersing myself in language classes in say Madrid for Spanish, Lisbon for Portugese and so on. Come to think of it, I could even try Athens for Greek.
In the meantime, Future Learn has come to the rescue in sustaining my interest with a course in Dutch. Did I say it was all Greek to me? I of course meant Double Dutch!