With the help of mi profesor, Juan, I am learning Spanish. Estoy aprendiendo español. Here he is, patiently writing out my lessons at Spanish Uruguay School.
The best part is the first half hour of our class meeting, where we just talk. Conversation. I get practice listening and trying to come up with the vocabulary to say what I mean. It can be a recitation of what I did that morning (going to the farmacia) or questions about customs or history of Uruguay, or traveling or anything else. Juan just lets me make all the mistakes in the world so as not to interrupt. When I don’t know a word in Spanish, I just say it in English and return to Spanish as quickly as possible.
The rest of the lessons deal with grammar. I know it’s important, or important-ish, but no one ever learned a new language by studying grammar books. You just pick it up. And you try speaking, make mistakes, learn from those.
Today, in grammar mode, we took a step back when I didn’t even understand the meaning of the sentences in the exercise book, so how could I decide whether to put POR or PARA in the blanks? Okay, so it’s freakin’ hard enough to make those decisions when one DOES understand the context! Ay ay. Juan tells me this is the number one stumbling block for English-speaking students, the POR or PARA question. I assume he’s trying to make me feel better, but I just feel inept.
We decided to cut the lessons down from 3 hours a day to 2. In a group class, you get a bit of a rest but one on one, it’s pretty intense, and in the last week, that third hour has been nothing but a collection of diminishing returns. ¡Ay! ¡A mí me duele la cabeza!