I have made quite a bit of progress over the last couple of years in XÃ tiva learning Spanish. Although I still have a huge amount to learn, I no longer worry about having to answer the phone or go to the shops and ask for something. (Thanks to my teachers, AarÃ³n and Saffron)
So I have been contemplating starting to learn the local language, Valenciano (which is almost identical to Catalan, which is spoken in Catalunya, the area around Barcelona). I’d like to be able to understand it, even if I can’t speak it very well. A couple of weeks ago, I went into the local bookshop and asked for the simplest, most basic text book to learn Valenciano. They sold me the one used in the first class of elementary school here.
However, when I looked at it at home I realised learning Valenciano was not going easy. It’s quite difficult anyway – most people I have spoken to here think I’m crazy to try. But there are almost no text books written in Spanish or English for non-Valenciano (or Catalan) speakers to learn the language. The text book is written in Valenciano! It seems you have to grow up in a family which already speaks to the language, and the text book is simply to polish your grammar. The locals are like a secret society – the only way to learn their language is to be born into the inner circle!
This weekend I finally found a second hand textbook with explanations of the vocabulary and grammar in English, so now I might be able to actually start learning the language!