and this is...


Monday, January 9, 2012

By Golly, I will be fluent!!! Even if it!

So let me keep this really...real. I cannot speak Spanish! Well...about two months ago, I spoke NO Spanish. That is not to say that I am suddenly and miraculously fluent...hell no! But I have been inching my way along trying to make myself at least semi-coherent in this new language on the hope that I will need it soon to make it through daily life.

So…when I started this whole thing, I could have such rousing conversations as:

Me: Hola. Como esta?
Someone else: Muy bien, gracias. Y tu?
Me: Mas o menos.

(That last line used to really make me feel ahead of the curve…sad, huh?)

So why would I choose Spain with such abysmal language skills? Simply put, it just feels like it’s where I’m supposed to be. Yes, I’m aware of how heebity-jeebity that sounds, but it’s true. You know how people feel like they are supposed to be in New York City, sipping manhattans and chasing that Broadway dream (this is plan B lol)? Or that they should dart off to California and become famous for…I don’t know…living in the same city as the Kardashians? Most of these people never had to go to these places before making the big leap to move there. And for the most part, we consider this behavior normal…mostly. So it’s the same for me…just a little further away.

Now I will be honest. My original goal was just to make it to Europe. Anywhere in Europe really! Just get me there. I’m aware that, once you’re on the continent, the rest of the continent is just a hop, skip, and plane ride away. So the decision for Spain came from my need to challenge myself. I like the idea of jumping completely out of my box and daring myself to make it amazing.

Like I said in my last post, I teach middle school. I teach Language Arts in a violence and ignorance driven economically challenged middle school. Without going into too much complaining detail, I will just say that I have been very unhappy in this job. The irony is that I am actually really good at this job. I could love this job. But the place and the people make it not so. Therefore, I am determined to try it somewhere different. If, halfway across the world and in a new language I STILL hate this job then I know that I tried and gave it my all and can walk away feeling somewhat like less of a failure. Besides, how else would I see the world on a teacher’s salary? Better to let the job work for me, I say!

Besides who wouldn’t want to live here every day:

I would love to live somewhere that incorporates art everywhere....A little taste of Atlanta home shall meet me abroad

I wanna live in a box of crayons!!!

I want this to feel like normal everyday life...

If I can't find something to write about there...where can I find it? Good starting place at the very least...

So… back to the language deal. Again the teacher job is a hindrance. I do not have the time for extra classes and it’s not really in my budget to go buying some expensive program that promises me fluency by next week. So I’m doing my own method…and while slower than a methodical program, its coming along rather nicely. I can have basic conversations now at about a 4th grade level (awesome considering I was like a toddler about two months ago). Here is how I’m doing it: The actual website kind of sucks to me but the app for Android and iPhone is pretty awesome! Its main focus is memorization, grammar, reading, writing and listening. Not very much practice speaking but it’s really fun and an easy way to keep up practice on the go.

Spanish practice workbooks- I have hit up the Spanish teacher at my school like a crack fiend on several occasions to get new activity books. Doing puzzles and games are just a fun way to practice and test myself to see what I have retained.

Libros en espanol on my Kindle- It is a very long a tedious process, but I am forcing myself to translate El Jardin Secreto. It’s a novel that I am very familiar with in English so I know the gist of the story, plus I am learning Spanish in the same way that I usually learn new words in English…context clues.

Searching for pisos in my dream cities- Not only does this get me used to daily vocabulary and learning the names of daily items…but it keeps me really excited about the prospect of moving abroad and keeps me motivated through all the crappy red tape stuff.

And my favorite method: TV! - I am addicted to a few Spanish novellas now and I have relearned a love of cartoons (Go, Diego, Go! in Spanish is a little bit like awesome)

Skype- Pretty simple...go on Facebook or and find someone that lives in Spain or is from there. Ask them to be your skyping buddy and start having conversation! Its a really sad process at first and I'm sure that I sounded like a stroke victim...but I suck a little less each time (or so Juan tells me)...and I choose people who are learning English too so we can trade off on helping each other...not to mention that this is great practice for the job that I'm attempting to have.

So yeah…it’s a hodge-podge of mess but somehow I keep making mental connections and randomly knowing words that I didn’t remember learning. There is a special sort of pleasure that I get from knowing that I did something on my own. And it’s a wonderful distraction from the mundaneness of everyday life. I have even gotten my students involved. Several of them are now trying to learn with me and we try to beat each other to see who can find the most amounts of cool new words every day. Having that game together has even helped improve classroom behavior as we have this fun new connection...

As far as I can tell, Spain has already brightened some things up!

*Disclaimer- - I do not expect Spain or Europe to be the Holy Grail and cure all my woes…I just know that I am long overdue for a refreshing change*

Hasta pronto!

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