Saturday, July 21, 2007

Spanish Classes in Antigua

So I sort of decided on a whim to take a week-long Spanish class at the beginning of my trip to Guatemala. At first I wasn´t sure if it would be a waste of my travel time or if it would be beneficial to helping me communicate for the rest of my trip. I figured that Antigua was a place that I would want to spend a little time anyway so it couldn´t hurt to spend some of my time there learning Spanish. And so far it is proving to be very useful.

I´m what you would call a false beginner in Spanish. I´m not completely starting from scratch (I had three years of high school Spanish) but I do need to start learning it again from the beginning. Because of my knowledge of Italian and the Spanish that I have stored deep in the depths of my brain, I am going fairly quickly through the material. Most of the verbs are similar to Italian so I can recognize the immediately. I just need to study them so that I can retrieve them on my own when I need them. Things like phrasing and sentence structure is either similar to Italian or feels natural from having previously stidied Spanish.

For the last two years I have taught kids who speak Spanish as their first language and I have never spoken to either them or their parents in Spanish. I wouldn´t have known how to form a sentence other than Yo soy la maestra de ESL. Now, for the past three days I have been talking with my Spanish teacher (we have one on one classes) at length about my family, life in Arizona, Italy, etc. By no means is any of this grammatically correct but I am starting to be able to speak. Honestly I doubt I ever spoke this much in my high school Spanish class and that was after having learned all of the verb tenses and conjugations (I´m just now starting to refresh on the past tense in Spanish).

All of this makes me realize that I am not that far off from being conversational in Spanish. And it kind of makes me excited to learn. Spanish was never something that I wanted to study. In high school I had expected to take Italian only to find out that it wasn´t offered. So I spent three years in learning it but never really caring about being able to speak it. Once I started learning Italian it was even further on the back burner because all I cared about was speaking Italian and not ´messing it up.´ Even since then I have taken French and Arabic, wanting to learn those before coming back to Spanish. Now it seems that with a summer living in Latin America and focusing on learning Spanish I could be fairly decent in Spanish. Definitely something to consider although I am still pretty set on the idea of teaching in an international school in Egypt so that I can learn Arabic sometime in the near future.

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