Matamoros, Mexico: Washington, D.C.:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thoughts on Spanish Class

Shortly after becoming a Foreign Service Officer, I took a language test to see just how well (or poorly) I spoke Spanish. I ended up with a 2+/2+ (that's State Department lingo in Speaking/Reading, which means I'm just below "professionally proficient", which would be a 3/3.) That resulted in me being assigned to eight weeks of Spanish classes, which should bring me up to the required 3/3 for my position in Monterrey.

Let me just get something out in the open: I. Love. Spanish. I really do. Ever since my first Spanish class in high school, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Spanish language and the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries. The Spanish language is fun, dynamic, and fluid. But, I think one of the things I enjoy the most about learning languages is the feeling you get when you are just suddenly on a roll and every word is flowing off your tongue and your grammar and pronunciation is spot-on.

Then come the days when you feel like you have no idea what Spanish even is. For about half of this afternoon, I felt like that. In fact, the four of us in my class felt the same way. We were all stumbling over words, making huge grammatical mistakes, and just generally sucking it up. But, those times can also sometimes be the most fun. Let me share with you the following two misspoken phrases that caused me to crack up in hysterics. Note: they're probably not too funny if you haven't studied Spanish yourself, but oh well.

First up: This is one of those situations where your mind just screws up because it's Friday afternoon and you're tired. One of my classmates was trying to say "What are we going to do on Thursday?" which should've been "¿Qué vamos a hacer el jueves?" What she actually said was "¿Qué vamos a hacer el huevo?", which means "What are we going to do the egg?" (or, if you don't have the most innocent of minds, egg could be translated a little more crudely. Google it if you really want to know.) It's certainly an understandable mistake... jueves and huevo are pronounced quite similarly. As soon as she said it, we all cracked up.

Second up: We did a debate with another class this afternoon, so there were eight students and two professors. We were arguing whether or not the U.S. should legalize drugs, so we were talking about harmful effects, society, and the narcotraffickers of Mexico and other countries. Another of my classmates was having trouble pronouncing the word "dañinos," meaning "harmful", which is certainly a difficult word to work with. Our class was already having way too much fun with our debate, laughing it up the entire way through. So when that word came up, it quickly turned into "da niños", which ends up being "gives children." So the phrase "marijuana is harmful" turned into "marijuana gives children." Hysterical laughter ensued.

Spanish classes are great, especially the way that FSI does them. I'm pumped about the rest of my time here before heading out to post.

Hastla la próxima vez... paz.

No comments:

Post a Comment