Monday, September 07, 2015

Learning Experience

Recently we've been pestering Lillian to start learning Spanish. 

She's 13 now, and it's certainly not too soon to be thinking about work experience in her future. And in California, (as in many other places as well) knowing how to speak Spanish can increase her value as an employment candidate tremendously.

And we went to a bi-lingual Mass in August, Lil and Joma and their mama with us; Alex and I kept up with the sermon fairly well; Bernie, Alex and I did fine with liturgical responses in Spanish -- for about five years we attended only Mass in Spanish when Bernie and I worked for a local parish. But for Lil, it was all noise. Only the movements were the same as English Mass.

So Bernie and I were going to spring for a Rosetta course in Spanish for Lil ... and then he found a site that does apparently the same thing -- for free. Duolingo doesn't have the wide scope of languages that Rosetta does, but it has Spanish. Bernie signed up for it, and so did I.

What, wait, am I not half-Mexican? Do I not speak Spanish?

I am, but I don't. At the peak of my linguistic ability, I could read and write Spanish, but had a major mental block about speaking it or hearing it. My mother always -- ALWAYS -- maintained that I should learn Spanish in high school, just as she did. She would not teach me, period.

My brave and intrepid mother was a liar, however; she was a native speaker of Spanish, and while she may have had a class of Spanish in school, even when Alzheimer's was starting to muddle her brain at the tail end of her life, if someone spoke to her in Spanish she understood and responded naturally. That's not book-learning, that's native speaker.

But I'm not a native speaker, and of what Spanish I had, much is lost.

But not all. And Duolingo is really starting to make me forget that I had a hard time hearing and speaking the language. It's a tricky procedure, switching from making me read the words to translating the words to typing what I hear of the words to saying the words. It works almost like a game, and the lessons I've done so far have made me want to do more.

I find myself doing the lessons faster and faster, too, as I learn the format. The first time the little microphone symbol popped up, I had a pang of fear. "Say this: Nosotros leemos los diarios." Now, after only a few days, I'm okay with pronouncing loudly enough to be heard by the machine, and the last lesson I did, the microphone symbol was popping up a lot more of the time.

Even when I had to say, "Mi conejo come pollo." My rabbit eats chicken?

Sure, why not.

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