At the ripe old age of forty eight I decided that I needed to communicate with my co-workers better, so this last Tuesday I attended my first Spanish class.
My wife doesn't understand after working for sixteen years in California why now I want to learn Spanish!
Really it's for two thing; one I never want to stop learning (keeps the brain active) and my fellow co-workers are more open to me when I speak a little Spanish. Most speak English some better then others.
I think that is great and shows a lot about your character. Like you said it is not how much or how good you learn the language, but that fact you care.
I learned enough Spanish to get across Mexico alone. I learned most of it in college outside of class (it was not required, so I audited a couple).
My advice is learn phrases- some run of the mill and some fun ones. Every once in a while instead of saying "sí" I will say "Símon que sí esse!" It doesn't mean anything in English, but with a gangster Spanish tone gets my friends to laugh