First of all, thank you to everyone who commented on my last post and showed such concern and support after our little emergency room trip yesterday morning. Gregg still feels a bit of a pinching pain in his side, but he's much better today. He went to work this morning (at the pet store) with a large bottle of ice water and promises to come home early if he needs to. Kidney stones are no joke!
I thought I'd write about my Spanish class today. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I leave work at 4:30 (my normal time) and go straight to my class, which is across town and starts at 5pm. If the traffic isn't too bad and I have time I swing through a Dunkin' Donuts drive thru for a cup of coffee to bring. I need the pick-me-up after a long day at work followed by a two hour class!
As some of you here may remember, I've been playing around with some Spanish language lesson CDs for a while now and trying to communicate in Spanish to native speakers I meet. If I'm being perfectly honest, most of my effort towards learning Spanish up until this point has been pretty half-assed. I'm ready to move up a level in fluency now, though. I have several casual friends/workmates/acquaintances who speak it, not to mention almost daily contact with Hispanic parents in the school office, many of whom don't speak English very well. Plus, I think it's a beautiful language! To my ears, it's much prettier than English, both the sound of the words and the way the sentences are put together.
Back to my class. It's a conversational Spanish class, and since we only have a total of 32 hours together, la maestra covers a lot of material each time. It's an informal group of around 8 adults, with varying levels of Spanish. One lady, a pretty middle aged black woman, speaks Spanish so well I keep wondering what the heck she's even doing there, while this one young white guy who introduced himself as "Pastor Brian" has struggled with the most basic phrases and concepts. I usually sit next to a big, affable, likeable guy named Ben who's a city police officer, as it turns out. I was surprised by that. He's taking the class to be able to serve the Spanish speakers in our community better, which I admire him for. Another middle aged lady (who teaches high school English) wears a headscarf and so I wonder if she's Muslim. It's a diverse little group, as you can see! Everyone is supportive of each other, which is a good thing, because we have to do a lot of group practicing and exercises.
The teacher is a pretty, slender, fifty-something lady from Mexico who carries a large black lace fan that she often uses to point to the board or to the student she's calling on. She's a bit quirky and I like that! She uses as little English as possible and forces us to follow suit. If we're stuck trying to understand something she'll act it out as if we're playing charades. It's fun. She also explains concepts about culture to us; the very first class she explained the double last name thing and how the mother's and father's names get passed along to the next generation.
Already I can tell I'm benefiting from listening to spoken Spanish. That's my biggest weakness, understanding what I hear. I'm much better at translating the written word. And I often refrain from trying to speak it out of embarrassment, but the class is helping me get over that too. As la maestra says, emphatically and often, "Try. Try..."
On Wednesday of this past week, the mother and grandmother of a sweet Mexican student named Luis came to the front office to sign him out of school. I've known Luis and these two ladies for almost 2 years now and we're very friendly. In fact, whenever I see the grandmother, I say, "Abuela!!!" and she always gives me a hug and a kiss on both cheeks. Anyway, when I saw them I started speaking in Spanish, as I always try to do, and they both said, "Wow, you are getting better!" I told them I was taking a class, and they said they could tell. The truth is, though, that their English is improving by leaps and bounds while my Spanish progresses by baby steps at a snail's pace! It made me feel good that they claimed to notice a difference, though.
I'm glad I signed up for the class.