Halfway through our sabbatical, Pete and I are a little frustrated and disappointed with how much progress we’ve made learning Spanish. In my case, I had unrealistic expectations. My background in French allowed me to understand a lot relative to how much Spanish I knew. I tried to speak and realized I couldn’t say anything. And when I started to speak, I realized how confusing and confused I sounded. Two days ago I thought I did well speaking in class, and later told Pete that if I could just get the verb conjugations down I could probably have some decent conversations. Then we went to tae kwon do and I made ridiculous errors talking to Valeria. Yesterday in class I was acutely aware of how haltingly I spoke and how often I screwed up verb conjugations and tenses. It’s painful for everyone.
Because he is already conversational and can find a way to say whatever he is thinking, Pete’s language goals were to clean up his Spanish: to eliminate silly errors that have dogged him for years and to perfect his use of “por” and “para” (both mean “for” or “by”) and “ser” and “estar” (both mean “to be”). He’s at a point where the distinctions in usage are stylistic and can’t necessarily be explained by rules, which makes it difficult at times for a teacher to help him. And now it’s hard to find a teacher. He lost the first one to a ski vacation in Europe and the second to an extended visit to Buenos Aires, and others are on vacation until the new year.
Both of us wish, at times, that we weren’t living with each other. It’s too easy to come home from school and speak English for the rest of the day. At the same time, being here together with Lou has led to interactions and created opportunities that we otherwise wouldn’t have: daycare, tae kwon do, play dates.
Lou is our rock star. He’s una esponja (a sponge) and comes home using new words like “squat down” and “super scary plants” (from Ciro, who told Lou there are man-eating plants next to La Montaña). Lou speaks confidently and correctly, and he offers me gentle corrections. I think he truly likes being able to speak two different languages.
For me, the only way to advance is to spend less time using English and more time using Spanish. So from now on, this blog will be in Spanish. Thanks for understanding.