I've been meaning to write this for a few days...
On my way from Charlotte to Pittsburgh, it turned out the guy I was sitting next to was from Spain. He was coming back from a trip to the Bahamas. The only reason he went was because he got a deal, $700 for 5 days on LivingSocial or one of those other awesome deal sites. I can't remember if he said that included air, but it probably did because Pittsburgh is a really busy airport.
This was probably going to be my last chance to practice Spanish for a while, and luckily he was cool so we were able to talk in Spanish and English. From that conversation, I reckon I was about 85-90% fluent. It was probably because he had a really easy accent. Regardless, I feel like I'm bilingual now!
Some new words I learned:
hecharlos fuera kick them out
fue genial it was cool
esta bien its cool
se suponia ganar it was supposed (they were supposed) to win
decidir to choose / decide (How the fuck did I not know this?)
I also taught him some Spanish slang from Colombia like "chevre" "bacano" which mean "cool". He said Spain doesn't really use a word for "cool", only say "esta muy bien," which means "It's very alright," haha lame.
He was a researcher at Carnegie Mellon so his English was pretty good. His main problem with the language was the pronunciation. This is true for most people because in Spanish there are ~5 vowel sounds while in English there are ~20. This makes it very difficult for those learning to listen and speak well.
His friends would take full advantage of this when they were playing drinking games, making rules like: you must say "cheap,chip,sheep,ship" correctly when whatever precondition is met. These words are very difficult for Spanish speakers to differentiate, but its very important that they learn it or they get caught mispronouncing "shit" and "sheet."
His research was really interesting. He was involved in using smart phones and their applications to help old people with Alzheimers. By using these phones they can keep track of what they need inorder to stay healthy. It acts like an external memory, reminding you of appointments, when to take pills, and other things throughout the day.
Big problem I think would be getting a senior to figure out how to use a smart phone. Also, I wonder what happens if they lose the phone. I didn't ask. Anyways, its an awesome way to use new technologies to solve medical problems.
For an awesome video on this topic see this TED video by Daniel Kraft. If you don't know what TED is, please go there now. It will blow your mind, many times.
Cool Tech Product
He was reading a book on some digital reader, not kindle but some Sony product. The cool thing about it was that it had multiple dictionaries for multiple languages so he could read in whatever language and if he didn't understand a word, BOOM, look it up and learn it. This is so easy for learning/reading a new language. Excellent way to practice and learn a language. I'm not sure if all digital readers (e-readers??? what's the right term?) have this feature, but they should. Most excellent.
He also talked a lot about Spain and I'll get to that next...