Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wondering why we--I--don't get it right the first time.

This question can apply to almost anything in my life, but today it has to do with learning Spanish.

We have an up and down relationship, Spanish and I. From 6th to 8th grade, I was Cristinita, shy, smart girl who got 104 on every test; master of basic Spanish. I would pay money if I could remember the name of my freshman year Spanish teacher. It was her last year in our school, she wore a lot of colorful make-up and had quite a head of white, coiffed hair. She was also very hard of hearing, which we sadly took advantage of on more than one occasion. I still was able to pull off high 90's.

Then. Came. Spanish 3. If you have ever played Boggle or Scrabble with me or watched me struggle with crossword puzzles, you are well aware that my brain has a hard time when there is one correct answer (also the reason I never excelled in algebra or chemistry). All of a sudden I was supposed to memorize, remember and correctly sort out multiple verb tenses. Needless to say, it was over. I got the first C of my life and promptly decided that I didn't need to continue my Spanish education.

All went well at Miami University. In my first 3 majors (ha) I didn't need Spanish. Then all of a sudden I found myself an English major with a foreign language requirement that would take me 3 semesters to complete. I was a junior in a freshmen class taught by a 22 year old. The one bright spot in the first two semesters was that Jana, one of my housemates, took it with me and somehow our TA's *loved* us. Then Jana "had" to take the last semester over the summer and left me to squirm in the reincarnation of my sophomore year experience in high school: I can't memorize to save my life. I cursed myself for giving up in high school and causing myself this kind of pain my senior year of college. I got another C.

But. I have to admit that when I arrived in New York 5 months later, I enjoyed being able to recognize some of the words in the Spanish advertisements. I began having students who spoke Spanish as their first language. Basically in the past 5 and a half years, I have fallen in love with Espanol. My students make fun of me when I try to speak in class and correct my horrible accent and vocabulary blunders.

Now I am planning a trip to Spain this summer and a possible language immersion program in Latin America next year. I just came home from the bookstore with "Essential Spanish Grammar," "The Spanish Verb Book," and a Spanish Verb Tenses workbook. And I'm excited about them all. Truly. Pumped.

I just wish that I stuck it out back in 1997 and perhaps I'd be a little more advanced at this point.

1 comment:

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