In 2015, David Bottomley found himself in a unique and frustrating situation. Earlier in the year, his son Stewart had fallen for a Spanish woman named Atenea, sparking a whirlwind trip to Spain to meet their future in-laws. With the language gap meaning that neither family could understand each other, it was left to Atenea to frantically translate all conversations, placing a strain on the new families. As Stewart and Atenea’s romance blossomed, David made the decision to learn Spanish, without anticipating just how powerful his new skill set would be.

David and his wife Carol kick-started their Spanish with once-a-week classes at their local leisure centre. Thirsty for a more proficient grip on the language, the couple then supplemented their classes with language-learning app, Babbel. Completing mobile lessons and testing each other over a cup of tea, David and Carol managed to fit learning into their daily routines easily, with helpful nudges from Babbel’s cheerful prompts.

Soon after, Stewart and Atenea got engaged and began planning their wedding in sunny Spain. By this point, David was confident in basic conversational Spanish such as ordering food and asking for directions. Curious to take it a step further though, he  set himself a personal goal to deliver his ‘father-of-the-groom’ speech in Spanish in front of a sea of locals. The big day arrived on October 2017 and, full of nerves and excitement,  his skills were put to the ultimate test. Looking out to a crowd of wedding guests, David went blank.  Months of practice seemed to fall away to nothing in a matter of seconds.

It wasn’t until he scanned the room for his son and, seeing the happiness on his face, that the Spanish began to flow. David’s consistency and dedication to immersing himself in a new language made his son incredibly proud and even the Spanish guests were impressed with his new party trick. Most encouraging for Dave was that many took the time to congratulate him following the speech, praising him for his fluency.

Eager to upskill on their Spanish,, David and Carol continued to develop after the wedding, by venturing on a road trip around the country.  The two found that they were able to easily communicate and befriend the locals.

“One of the kindest gestures you can make when visiting a new country is to speak the local language. By showing the local community that you care and respect their culture, you can open up conversations and develop new relationships,” David commented about his and Carol’s continued dedication to learning Spanish.

David’s advice for those wanting to take on the challenge is to tackle new information in bite-size lessons, set realistic goals, and learn with others. Knowing that he can comfortably converse in Spanish means that he looks forward to his family adventures more than ever.


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