I know this is a question that people are wondering about us. In short, No hablo Espanol, para Glenn habla un poco Espanol. Actually, Glenn is way better than me, especially since he did his year long travels through Central and South America in 1990-91. He has retained a lot of it and is remembering even more through practice and exposure. Thank God for that as I would be totally lost when when we go to the Doctor’s office or do anything official. Or even just order our meals, shop in a store, ride in a taxi and all the other daily activities we do. Although I too am learning. My pronunciation is horrendous though and Glenn said one day that listening to me try to speak Spanish is excruciating. LOL!! My goal is to make him take those words back.
It is easy to get around San Miguel De Allende with English. People are very forgiving, patient and pleased if you try to speak even a tad of Spanish. Even if you butcher it like I do. But, I have always said that I do not understand people who move to another country and do not attempt to learn the language. Some even after decades. To me it is a disservice to myself and others, and I feel that trying to learn is a bow to the new culture, life and people that I am here to embrace.
When we first came down here we didn’t do anything regarding Spanish lessons for at least the first month. We just needed time to get used to our surroundings, relax and figure out how to do the basics. We found out about the UNAM school in Centro (through the University of Guanajuato) and it’s Spanish workshops through our friends Stanley and Marcia Klein right after we met them a few weeks after arriving. And it fit our requirements as it has small classes and is reasonably priced. They did not have a beginners class when we first went there so I was able to do a separate 2 week beginner workshop as a one-on-one with Gina, one of the great teachers there. It was really helpful as an introduction and I felt that I could continue to learn in their next workshop “False Beginner’s”, quite a bit higher than Beginner’s but not yet Intermediate. This actually worked out well, and both Stanley and Glenn were in it too. Although I was not to their level at all, I was able to figure out a lot of what was being said, and Gina also spoke quite a bit of English in this class. So, I was able to keep up pretty well. I had been working on Babbel and Duolingo before we left the States and I had a bit of vocabulary under my belt at least. But I had dropped out of practicing for awhile. Something I am starting up again. My big problem is memorizing, but I have found that creating flashcards helps. However, boy is that stack growing and getting a bit cumbersome. We were learning a bunch of the regular verbs which I can now conjugate fine, but maybe just not remember what they mean. Then there were some irregular and stem change ones. Those really get me. It is hard enough to remember the first rules, but then they add a bunch of new rules on you that are hard to comprehend especially when there are so many exceptions along the way. Also the whole thing with masculine and feminine and the rules that apply to that confuse me. But the teacher’s are patient so that is good. And bit by bit things are starting to stick. The problem is that once again, English is easy to use in San Miguel and so many people in town speak it. So it can get a bit hard to practice as we slip back so easily.
This past month we have been in another “false beginner’s” class but I found that I was pretty much lost in the first class session. Alejandra Cervantes was our teacher for that class and she is a lot of fun. But she spoke mostly Spanish during the class and everyone was way beyond me. I stuck through the session, which just finished last week, since I was still learning and I could get the general idea of what was being said. It is interesting that through expressions and the general drift of the words in the sentence I did know or I could guess at I did pick up a lot.
The last day of our first session found us in our teacher, Gina’s house for brunch. We were also able to meet her husband who is a fabulous artist. And the last day of this session was a field trip to the mercado’s and tiendas. We learned about all the fruits and vegetables and then came back to the classroom to sample them all. Our cousin Chad was visiting for a week and we were able to have him join the group for a little treat.
Glenn is going to continue with the same class next session and I was going back to a beginner’s class but they didn’t have enough participants for that one. I hear another is starting in October. If anyone is interested in attending Spanish workshops at UNAM they should contact Alejandra Cervantes at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. The new workshop sessions start the first week of September. The classes are 2 hours a day 2-3 times a week depending on what class you join.