So I am finally an official student of the Spanish language! After more than 2,5 years with O and half-hearted attempts to self-studies, I have my own, private teacher at the Berlitz centre and 65 hours of lessons paid by O’s company!
Last Tuesday was my first lesson, and I did feel a little guilty that I hadn’t prepared better with all the Spanish language books I have at home… Oh well. I had already taken an on-line test for Berlitz, and I was quite proud of the result – level 2 (not beginner, not level 1 but 2!) but I was a little nervous that the teacher would see through my bluff (?? I did the test without any help from O or any books) and tell me that I really was a beginner (as I have never studied Spanish).
The teacher L started immediately speaking to me in Spanish (I like that, no silly speaking of English here!) and questioning me on the numbers (I had to count to 50 before the teacher let me off!), colours – first mistake: calling blue for blu and not azul (I can’t even blame that on Italian – azzuro, however I had been speaking French non-stop for two days with my French friend C and it is bleu in French), second mistake: giallo is definitely Italian and not the Spanish amarillo (yellow).
Then we had a confused discussion about how long I had been / was going to spend in Puerto Rico… llevo un mes y medio en Puerto Rico – llevo desde noviembre – voy a estar un año en Puerto Rico (I spend 1,5 months in PR – I spend since November (bad translation) – I will stay one year in PR). The problem with my Spanish is that I very often understand more or less the meaning of a phrase, but usually I am unsure of the exact meaning. I missed the crucial part here, were we talking about the present or the past? I didn’t want el profe (the teacher) to think that I had already spent a year here and that I was leaving in one month when it is the contrary!
After 1,5 hours of intense concentration and conversations about the months, the days of the week, as well as ayer – hoy – mañana (yesterday – today – tomorrow) and telling the date and time, food and meals, we finished off with the body – my body vocabulary turned out to not be very extensive except for la cabeza, los ojos y la boca (the head, eyes and mouth). I was exhausted! It is my first time with private lessons and my, you have to concentrate – no slacking off, none of that usual loss of concentration when your mind starts to wander off while the other students are talking… Phew!
El profe told me that the first lesson was actually a test to determine my level and that I would get all the study material during the next lesson. Oh no, I was sure that the fact that I didn’t know how to say blue or eyebrow (la ceja) would put me down on the beginner’s level…
On Thursday I was given my books – an exercise book, a dictionary (Berlitz, of course), a grammar book and 3 cds. And I was told that I was on level 3!!! Wow, I really need to get serious about this now – but I am happy, the high level will keep me on my toes, and keep my motivation as I wouldn’t want to continue talking about basic stuff such as colours, the days of the week etc.
El profe is also serious; we started the second lesson with conjugating reflexive verbs!
Yo me despierto a las 7 y media de la mañana, yo me levante de la cama, después me lavo, me peino y me visto. Yo me cepillo con un cepillo… (I wake up at 7.30 in the morning, I get up from the bed, then I wash, comb [my hair] and get dressed. I brush [my hair] with a brush…)
At one point I got so tired and lost my concentration, poor el profe – I think that he started to despair when I kept insisting on saying después de me despiertarme – instead of después de despertarme (after waking up)… He tried to explain that there is only one –me (at the end of the verb) and no i, but I just couldn’t get it! I guess that having a private teacher will help me get over the fear of making a fool of myself when speaking Spanish (I still have that fear when speaking French but not when I speak Italian, I don’t care if it is correct or not as long as people understand me)…
Then the funny part of the lesson: el profe starts talking about O! He says O trabaja mucho – I say sí (as it is so true that O works a lot), no-no, I was supposed to repeat… O está cansado (O is tired) – I say sí (it’s true, he is always tired)… Poor, poor el profe, he didn’t know that it felt like we spoke about my O (how would he know, he was of course just reading from the book).
I am very happy with the lessons so far and am looking forward to my third lesson tomorrow, but first I need to study a little! I have already driven O to despair as well with the conjugation of the verb to wake up… I keep putting an -i where there isn’t one!
My friend C and I escaped to the island of Culebra after the Spanish lesson on Thursday, and I am proud to say that I have now managed to drive to Fajardo (both free- and highway) and back to San Juan again! We spent 2,5 great days on Culebra, but that is another story!
I even dared to drive (with C as the co-pilot and moral support) to the airport on Saturday evening to pick up O who came back from Spain. No more driving for me now for a while as we only have one car and O needs it for work – can’t say that I complain 🙂
*) Of course I don’t get up at 7.30 in the morning, more like 9.30… except when I have Spanish lessons – they start at 9.00 which is good, it forces me to actually get up early twice a week!