Today as I was checking my email, I saw an ad saying "Learn a Language in Just 10 Days!!" Oh, if only it were that easy! We were missionaries in Mexico for 6.5 years, and have been in the Canary Islands for almost two, and I am still learning the language!
First of all, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of Spanish when we lived in Guadalajara, Mexico, where I attended language school. Mexican Spanish is much easier for me to understand than Castilian Spanish. To make matters worse, we had a 17 year gap in between mission fields, although Doug and I both taught Spanish in Christian schools, and Doug continued to use his in the jail ministry. Doug even went on to get his degree in Spanish.
I was very rusty when we first came to the islands. We had to learn the dialect of the islanders, which has its own nuances. The people from the "peninsula" (what they call the people from mainland Spain) are very proud of their "Castellano"--as they call it when referring to their language, not Spanish. We have been corrected a few times for that. They also will look at you funny if you use a word that is typically Mexican or from Latin America.
Some days I think I do pretty well--then others my tongue seems all tied and I can't express myself like I want. Learn a language in 10 days? Maybe 10 years would be more like it.