Friday, 21 June 2013

Language meltdown

I had a language meltdown on Wednesday. Our teacher speaks to us only in Spanish and so when I ask what something is, the explanation is in Spanish. The challenge is that I'm not very experienced with language teaching methods but this seems to be the 'bombard them with Spanish' method. I think that the theory behind this method is that children learn to speak a language surrounded by the language... the difference with adults is that we know a language already but need to learn the words of another language so I'm not sure I buy it...

Anyhoo, I chose this language school from the internet and the reviews are good and it seems they've taught people to speak Spanish successfully so I just have to chill and go with the flow.

But, I did have a 'freak out' - not crazy in actions -  but in my head I was going ballistic.

I don't mind not being able to communicate fluently, it is not being able to understand everything IN THE LESSONS that I find totally irritating.

When she is talking, talking, talking, talking away in Spanish all I can think of is, "The more you frikkin' keep speaking the less I frikkin' understand!".

And the other part of the frustration is, I guess, that I've been wanting to do this for so many years and perhaps my expectations are too high... But not that I expect to be speaking Spanish after only three days...

Anyway, during our tea break I spoke to the director of the school to tell her that I really wasn't getting this. The lass from the US too - she's in the same boat as me. And I suggested that the Italian lass be moved into a higher class - for her sake and ours. She's too good for us and when she and the teacher are chatting away, we're lost. I also requested more grammar. I think it is important to learn how to build the language so that I can build it on my own. The director said that Day 3 is usually the meltdown day...

I was working through Spanish podcasts from January and I felt like I was remembering and learning and progressing and I like the teaching method used. The first two-and-a-half lessons were just a total bombardment! Disappointment was a big part of what I was feeling.

Today the change was implemented and the class was way more smooth with just me and Danielle (the American lass). We really enjoy the 'board games' where you have to answer questions or conjugate verbs when you land on a block - this kind of thing. Interactive activities. We had an extra two hours of class this afternoon to make up for the missed lesson tomorrow (public holiday and long weekend here) and we've got some homework and also the director thought I'd appreciate some additional lessons / homework related to grammar that I can work on in my own time. The lesson this afternoon was really fun - with a different teacher - who is passionate about grammar and she explains things in English!

We bumped into Sara, the Italian lass, and I asked how her new class was going. She looked pleased (yesterday she said she'd been thinking too that she should be in a more advanced class) and said that this class is faster for her.

Overall, sure, I'm learning and I'm understanding more. I'm learning loads of words daily - I don't remember them all but repetition definitely helps. And I enjoy listening to the people in the hostel speaking at night.

Our teachers are from Buenos Aires and there's quite a different accent and pronunciation from BA. Actually, you get a different 'Spanish' in each of the Spanish-speaking countries - I guess much like the accents and sayings and pronunciations of English - like SA English vs Australia vs Scotland etc.

This BA pronunciation... For example... in the word pollo (chicken) the double 'l' sound that I'm used to (from Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain Spanish, podcasts etc) is said 'poyo' where the 'yo' being much like the 'Yo' of York. In Buenos Aires they say 'sho' - not as in shoe or choose but like the 'che' in porche without the 'e' (replace the 'e' with an 'o' to get the sound. I'm finding this challenging when listening to 'recalculate' what the word is and also to remember to pronounce 'sho' instead of 'yo' (either way is fine but the 'sho' is the local manner).

So, big learning curve and I hope that next week will be more successful. When I'm out running or walking around I make nice sentences in my mind but I'm struggling to spit them out verbally. Four days down and I've got homework and reading and listening and interacting and adventuring ahead this weekend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Adaptarse o morir - Mantener motivado - ser bombardeado por el español es el camino a seguir. Amigos de mi emigraron de Polonia sin otro conocimiento de la lengua - que rápidamente se adaptaron. gracias por compartir tu experiencia