Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Estoy Aprendiendo Español

To translate: I am learning Spanish. I'm not sure that's true, but I'm certainly trying.

For Christmas last year, Eustacia gave me a language kit that suggests you can learn Spanish in 3 months, and I have finally started using it. The kit's CD is for hearing the proper pronunciation as you work your way through the book, but this CD doesn't include explanations. And it doesn't tell you to slow down, that the chapters designed to be completed in one week are not meant to be completed in one evening.

I can't help myself, though. As I worked on the first chapter, Week 1, it seemed so simple that I whizzed right through it, and I was reminded of the Spanish I learned in high school. But I didn't stop to actually memorize the vocabulary or the sentence structure that would come in handy later. Week 2 brought even more words and grammar rules, and by Week 5—or Day 5, in my case—I am in over my head. I now have to start over and quiz myself and actually work at it. Lo tengo que estudiar.

The teacher of the English class where I volunteer says a student needs to write something five times in order for the thing to sink in. When she introduces new words, she makes the students write them down five times no matter their level. Whether they are learning names for colors or more complicated, multi-syllable concept words, the Five Rule applies. So, I am now trying to apply that rule to my Spanish learning.

Even if this program isn't effective, and I don't learn to speak or read Spanish, I am at least reminded of how difficult it is for an adult to learn another language. I don't think I have been impatient with the Latin students in class, but this week I have been much more sympathetic to their struggles. Yesterday, I worked with a woman in an early reading level, and she was learning when to use words like in, on, up and at. We worked on how a person is in a river but on a street. You pick up an apple, but you don't pick at an apple unless it has worms. It all seems so obvious to someone who knows the language, but it really isn't obvious at all when it's all new.

I recognize my situation hardly compares to those of the immigrants in this class—I'm trying to learn for fun, and I have had many years of official schooling. These people are learning out of dire necessity, and many of them have only had four or five years of school. And now they are parents of children who are already surpassing them.

Well, I'll start over with Week 1 and write everything five times. We'll see.

Es difficil.


dive said...

Learning languages is fun!
When you've done with Spanish, come join me in my Japanese class, Robyn.

Lynn said...

Si es difficil, desafordunatemente, pero es muy bien! Felicitations, Robyn.

I studied it at university but never get to use it, so let's use each other to practise. How about emails in Spanish, no matter how basic at first? Or on Facebook? :) I miss using my languages (French I use most days but hardly ever Spanish) so it would be good for me too.