Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ranting in Spanish

Necesito practicar hablar y escribir in espanol. Por ese, yo estoy tratando a escribir un breve blog in espanol. Yo espero que esto me ayude a habler en espanol.

I hope this makes at least a little bit of sense. I don't know how to add correct Spanish punctuation.

I never know what we are going to do in Spanish class until I get there, so there is no way to prepare. I like to know what I am facing so I can be prepared. That isn't possible with this class, and this greatly increases my stress level.

Necesito practicar el vocabulario porque iremos tener una prueba.

Mi bisabuela era aleman.
El maestro de espanol siempre escribe muchas palabras en la pizarra.
Siempre tengo hambre despues de mis clases.
Necesito una perfil para mis blogs.
Yo vi muchos los logartos cuando visite Louisiana.
Es el calentamiento global un problema real o no?
Es el reciclaje una solucion para el efecto invernadero?

Bastante por ahora.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rant #5

I was in the depths of despair (remember Anne Shirley?) Friday as I drove to school. I was mentally calculating exactly how many more times I would have to go to Spanish class over the remainder of the semester, eleven more weeks. Twenty-nine more times x fifty minutes per class equals a whole lot of misery. But it's too late to turn back now.

When I got to class, I told CP that I if the teacher yelled "Venga,Venga" or "Rapido" one more time, I just might have to kick him in the shin. She pointed out the he had been really "pissy" lately. I thought that was an understatement. I usually don't know what is going on in class anyway, and an angry, impatient teacher does not help. Whatever I do know how to say in Spanish gets buried under the terror I feel when required to speak in this class. As a result, something stupid usually comes out of my mouth, and I know it as soon as I've said it, but it is too late to take it back.

Fortunately, we had a new teacher in class Friday. He looked just the same as the original teacher, but he was much nicer. He smiled, he was friendly, and he didn't yell, not even when he said "Rapido". And most shocking of all, he spoke English! Not much English, but a few sentences. It was more English than I have heard in class since he read the syllabus to us the first week of school. If this nice teacher stays, I just might survive the semester with my sanity intact, and he won't have to fear for the safety of his shins.

It's no big surprise that I'm the oldest student in class. And I'm older than the teacher. All the students are about twenty, and for the most part, have taken Spanish all through high school, which wasn't very long ago for them. I can't even begin to speak as well as they do, and I feel very intimidated by this fact. Added to this is an intimidating teacher (and I'm not alone in this feeling)and my overall feeling is that I'm swimming in the ocean with no life jacket.

I respect his decision to forbid English being spoken in class, and he is entitled to hand out avisos (warnings) to anyone who does. And it is not entirely his fault that I feel so terrorized in class (partly his fault, but not entirely). It's not his fault that I apparently don't perform well under pressure. When we have the nice teacher, he calls on me to speak, I guess to try to draw me out of my wall-flower mode. This is when I become paralyzed with fear and say stupid things. If only there was a rewind button. I don't know if my age is an issue, or if it is my overall lack of experience with speaking the language, but it takes me a little time to get my thoughts together in Spanish to be able to answer a question. I have to think about it longer than the other students; I can't just spit out sentences like they do.

It isn't all bad news. I'm actually getting good grades on the quizzes and on the skit we had to write and perform in class. That was terrifying as well, but at least I knew in advance what I was supposed to say. We had very little time to prepare, but we pulled it off anyway!

Only eleven more weeks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rant #4

No, I am not going to teach. Thank you for asking.

This is the one question I always receive when people ask about my major. I know better than to say "never" about anything, but teaching is not in my plans. Most people seem to think there is nothing to do with a history degree besides teach, but there are many other options for history majors. Many go into politics or become attorneys. Also not in my plans. Many work for museums, libraries, or the National Park Service. These options are more interesting to me.

The truth is, I don't know what I'm going to do when I graduate. That isn't my focus right now. I'm not going to school because of what I might be able to do with my degree when I graduate. I'm going to school because I want to complete the education that I didn't finish when I was young. It's about the education itself, it's about the completion of something important to me. It's about learning and learning how to learn. It's about learning to think. That's all it's about. At least, for now. I don't have time to think about what comes after.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rant #3

And so I have survived two weeks of school.

The history classes are interesting, although I find it hard to stay awake in the three hour evening class. The Spanish class is a terror. Being quite determined that we learn to speak Spanish, our teacher absolutely insists we speak nothing except Spanish in class, and I only understand about half of what he says. That is why I found myself wandering around the room one afternoon, not knowing where I was supposed to be. I knew he had split us up into groups, I just didn't know what group I was in or which side of the room I was supposed to be on. As it turns out, I didn't need to move from my seat at all; I was already where I needed to be. So I had wandered around the room like an idiot for nothing.

My Spanish teacher thinks I brought a sex book to class. It wasn't a sex book. Really. It wasn't. It's called "A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband", written in 1917, and it is a cookbook. Most editions go on to say on the book cover "...With Bettina's Best Recipes". My edition does not.

Our assignment was to bring to class tres cosas (three things) that were important to us. I agonized over my choices, finally selecting a picture of my grandson, my great-grandmother's birthday book, and the first book in my collection of old cookbooks. (Many students chose their phones and iPods; talk about a generation gap!). We then broke up into groups of four and were instructed to tell each other about our tres cosas and ask each other question about them (all in Spanish, of course). Chins hit the floor when I held up my old cookbook, and the entire group started laughing. As I was holding it up, my teacher was looking at it intently (from several feet away), and I guess was reading the cover. He then quickly turned away and headed rapidly in the other direction. Apparently he did not want to know about my book or why it was so important to me.

I wasn't worried about what he thought because I knew we would all soon have a turn in the front of the class telling everyone about our tres cosas. Of course, I was too chicken to rush up front to take my turn before I absolutely had to and then, guess what? My turn never came. We ran out of time and at our next meeting we moved on to the group thing where I wandered around the room like an idiot. So now he thinks I'm an idiot who brought a sex book to class.

I can always count on Spanish class for adventure and outright terror. And whenever I feel the need to make a fool of myself, I know exactly where to go.