Filed under: Bloggidy Blog | Tags: higher education, post-it notes, rosetta stone, spanish
I found out a month or so ago that Don’s employer is going to send us to Mexico again next February. This is really excellent news as it was rumored that last year’s trip was the final one. Chiefly among the things I wished I had done before the last trip is learn Spanish. Some Spanish. Enough to get by and sound polite. Now that the wedding is out of the way that’s what I’m trying to do, again, in my spare time-learning Spanish from books. My learning tool of choice would have been that interactive Rosetta Stone computer program. That seems good to me because it’s visual. From it’s on line tutorial I still remember that “adam” is Turkish for “man”. Can’t take that away from me. The program is really spendy, though, and there’s about 30-100 holds on all of the copies of it at the library so, so much for that. Unless one of you guys owns a copy? Just thought I’d ask.
Yeah, back about twenty years ago in college I knew Spanish–enough to get by anyway. My knowledge has been reduced to a random smattering of words like “to the right”, “to the left” and “then”. They’re pretty much useless to me. The best analogy I can draw to illustrate the utility of my college education (or what’s left of it now-everything but art has fallen by the wayside) is comparing it to a big walk-in closet that doesn’t have a light in it. I go in there frequently looking for stuff that I remember putting there, but, if I happen to find something at the time that I was looking for it, it is completely by chance. More often facts just kinda fall out of it unexpectedly, like a lone shoe you forgot you owned, without benefit of references or explanations to back up their existenence. When I do find something I’m looking for it makes me so happy. Four and a half years well spent, I think. I try to put it back in a place where I can find it again but you know how that goes.
But back to the Spanish learning. I got a book off of Amazon by a guy who refers to himself as the Language Heretic. If it proves helpful I will recommend it to you. He’s into teaching Spanish vocabulary by using lots and lots of cognates (words that are similar in Spanish and English). I kinda skipped that part because a lot of those words like stalagmite, prehensile-I didn’t need them taking up room in my closet. The L.H. keeps the number of conjugated verbs that you need to memorize to a manageable size, a dozen, which is nice. Verb tenses are something else again. I haven’t thought about that stuff in a long time-perfect pasts and imperfect pasts. The book does have lots of little cut and dried rules applying to tenses that are quite helpful, so we have that going for us once we figure out which tense we’re looking at.
So far the most helpful thing for me has been the colored post-it note flashcards with the English on one side and the Espanol on the other. I’m going with nouns and stuff first so I can have something to talk about once I memorize the conjegutated verbs. Now when I think “onion” in my head I see a pink post-it note upon which is written in blue pen a word that starts with a “C” and ends with an “A” and has a double “L” in it. There are other equally important letters that I’m not seeing, but let’s not diminish my accomplishments thus far. The point is I need a picture of a word in my head to remember it. I see “lechuga” when I think “lettuce” and “sandia” when I think watermelon. I hope like hell I run into some peanuts in Mexico because it was a long time before I was able to see “cacahuetes” when I thought of those. What I really like about my post-it notes is that the pile of words that I know gets larger and more colorful all the time. It’s a very tangible and satisfying way to measure progress.
The funny thing about this whole movie is that I know Don is going to kick my ass at learning Spanish. He doesn’t really care about learning it all that much–he just wants me to write up a list of the conjugated verbs from the book and leave it in the bathroom so he can study them during his free time when he’s on the toilet. Don’s a word person. And he’s really regular. Without resorting to colored squares he can remember this stuff easy in the time allotted. One day he will emerge from the can talking like a native. Hopefully by then I’ll have moved on to “fork”. That one starts with a “T” and ends with a “R” and it’s on a green post it note. (Green is for nouns you can’t eat.) Yup.
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