Break Diver Rory Laird
Break Diver Rory Laird
  • DIVER: Rory Laird
  • CATEGORY – Linguist
  • DIVE: Spanish
  • LEVEL: 1
  • REQUIREMENTS: Level 1 (Can read, write, speak, and listen at a very basic level)

When and why did you decide to start studying this language?

I’ve enjoyed learning, off and on over the years, but have really probably only dreamt of being fluent since, I guess when I spent a week in Spain for work. I loved the culture there, the way the language flowed so rhythmically. I saw a flamenco show and, though none of the emotional content of the story was lost in my shaky understanding of the words themselves, it all just left me wanting to infuse Latin culture into my soul. I came back and worked hard to learn the language for a few months, but listening to podcasts and keeping a notebook of phrases was not working and eventually I phased out of my interest in learning the language. A few years passed. Recently, though, I began learning to play the quena (a traditional Peruvian/Bolivian flute). In my search for instruction online, finding most resources in Spanish, I was excited to again have a reason to pick Spanish back up and try something different.

How long did it take for you to reach this level of proficiency from the day you decided to pursue it?

It’s tough to say exactly how long it’s taken to reach this level since the day I first decided. It’s tough really to pinpoint the day I made the decision, and the commitment over the years has been wavering at best. I guess I’ve been studying it over the course of 20 years. I started with Spanish class in high school learning very little because, in my ignorance, I didn’t think I’d have any use for it. Over the years to come, I was always excited to get a job with a native Spanish speaker – learning to communicate job level information in Spanish made the work feel like fun for me, at least as much as it could be. Still, these times never really accounted for more than a few words and phrases. When I took that work trip to Spain, I started practicing phrases and vocabulary a few days before leaving, and absolutely loved just trying shamelessly to practice my Spanish with everyone I came across.

What do you think is the hardest & easiest part about studying this language?

I learned an interesting thing about myself because of the Spain trip experience. If I meet an obvious Spanish speaker in the US (or in any similar context), I feel like trying to speak Spanish will be offensive or disrespectful, like I’m assuming they can’t speak English. But when I met Spanish speaking people in Spain (everyone I met), I felt like trying to speak the language was the most respectful way I could carry myself, and it felt like ‘playing’ in the language. Always holding back from practicing in those spontaneous opportunities in real life, perhaps a common thing or maybe just my hangup, has been the source of the greatest challenge I think, and likewise, playing in the language with natives, learning to feel the vibrant cultures from which the language has evolved, soaking it in (in fun and natural conversation) has been the easiest part. Even when my speech is wholly flawed I am learning and improving, and that’s what’s most important.

What is your advice for someone who is pursuing this dive?

I think that it’s important to have the right reason, first and foremost. If you’re struggling to find a reason to learn Spanish, but you still need to or just want to, I would suggest taking some time to learn about a few Latin cultures and searching for things that interest you within them. For me, it was the music of Spain and the rich and magical traditions of the Andes. I think when you find aspects of a culture that you want to embody, you begin to resonate with the language a little more naturally. Beyond that, seek out opportunities to use the language long before you’re “good” at it. Just play in the language and let it be fun!

How did you prove you met the requirements for this level?

I made a number of posts in the Break Diving community in Spanish, and also practiced in the Spanish chat room. I also had a 30-minute video call with Break Diving staff member Monroe Mann, who formally tested me on my basic Spanish listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Finally, I share with you below some of my original writing in Spanish.

Please share some original writing in this language, with perfect spelling and grammar (Title, plus one paragraph).

Mi Introducción

Me llamo Rory, y yo soy un Break Diver. Yo empecé la escuala tarde en comparación a la mayoría porque era un soldado en el ejército de los Estados Unidos. ¿Te importa si yo intento hablar en español contigo? Yo quiero mucho aprendar el idioma. Ahora estoy aprendiendo paso a paso. ¡Muchas gracias!

Will you be pursuing the next level?  If so, what is the next level, and what is your plan?  If not, why not?

The next level in this case is to have passed a certified and proctored basic language abilities test in Spanish. I recently was recommended the app Busuu, which not only teaches Spanish, but also provides certification tests up to level B2. I was told if I pass the Level A2 test at Busuu, that will help verify my Linguist – Spanish – Level 2 abilities. Level 2 is a ways off for me right now, but I have it in my sights, and want to take my Spanish speaking to the next level. Vocab on Drops, five minutes a day is great. Español Automatico podcast for an hour a day while I do my basic tasks. And of course, conversational practice participating with fellow Break Divers in the community.

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Rory Laird is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: LINGUIST – SPANISH – LEVEL 1.  Congratulations Rory!  Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kudos to each of you who have written here about your journey!
    And Rory, I’ve just read your story about learning Spanish and I’m glad to know that you never gave up on it (though it was sometimes on a “back-burner” since your first Spanish class 20 years ago)… and I can imagine how wonderful it will feel when you realise that you are “suddenly” speaking Spanish with ease and total fluency. Keep it up! I have every confidence that you’ll get there, especially because you’re enjoying the process and having fun with it. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story!

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