The last time we chatted, I was nervous about my uncontrolled, spinning descent to earth via my Spanish language parachute (or lack of). To be fair and balanced in my reporting of FSI language training, I thought I'd write about the opposite swing of this linguistic pendulum.
I'm loving my Spanish class now. Yup, I've said it, and have probably cursed myself in the process. We have a new teacher as of this week, and it's not that I didn't like the others - because I did, really! - but this new one combines enough structure to let us feel like we're not meandering, with regular reinforcement of the lessons we're learning and enough correction so that we understand our errors without being humiliated and shamed into not wanting to open our mouths. I'm using "our" and "we" here because in conversation with my two other classmates (#3 went off to post last week), I learned that they feel the same way. He set the bar on day one by writing on the board that two words no longer existed: "cosa" (thing) and "dinero" (money).
What's the matter with these words? They're either extremely lazy or inaccurate and lazy.
How many times have you said, "Can you hand me that thing?" "There's this thing that I've been thinking of doing," "That thing in the Middle East that has been in the news lately." When you really need to be learning to say: pencil sharpener, trip to the museum and ongoing geopolitical warfare.
What's the matter with "dinero" you ask? Well, it depends on the situation. Remember, we're diplomats in language training. We're not going to talk about how the USG gives dinero to Sudan, but rather "monetary assistance," "fiscal support," or "humanitarian aid." Dinero you can give to your ten-year-old for their allowance, but to state that the USG gave dinero to Kosovo, well now you're insinuating something a bit unethical.
After he laid down this law, we (the class, of our own volition) added "problema" to the list (I really don't need to translate that, do I?). Because how Level 3 Spanish does it sound to say that Israel has a problema with their neighbors?
Suffice it to say that we're learning to advance our vocabulary by replacing old, tired nouns and verbs with more subtle and accurate ones. I feel like I'm gaining traction in my language acquisition (see - I didn't just say "learning new stuff"!) and I wanted to share that there are indeed, precious few perhaps, times of confidence and growth.
And he's giving us good insight into the methods (I didn't say tricks and traps!) that the language examiners use to gauge our skills. I'm all for that!
I'll sign off for now, feeling like I have a clear view of the horizon and a steady descent to earth. If you're lost with that last sentence, please read previous post.
PS And it's not just me - please read my A-100 classmate's version of his language training.