Saturday, October 17, 2009

Travels, Day 23, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 11, 1972
"[Homer-Dog] + I went to the laundry. [Dad] went to the bank + opened an account. [Brother] fixed a flat tire on his cycle. Stem was pulled out.
We swam in the pool, sunned for awhile, then we looked at some furniture. Found some we like.
After supper [Dad] + I went to Spanish Lesson. I think I am impossible. Spanish sure seems hard."
I learned Spanish by watching the television. At least, that's how I started. When I started school in Guatemala, soon after moving in to our new rental house, I suffered through Spanish classes.

A funny thing happened when I first started school. My parents were contacted by the school. They were concerned that I may have a problem. I was misbehaving, talking to the other students, and I wasn't obeying or even responding to my teachers. My Mom asked them what language my teachers were talking to me in. The school representative said Spanish of course. Apparently no one had told my teachers that I didn't understand Spanish. I didn't find out about this until recently. I do remember being taken out of classes by someone, I remember her being very nice, and helping me with my Spanish. Being a young boy I picked it up rather quickly. It is always easier for children.

There is one thing that irritates the Wife. I always tell her that I don't speak Spanish very well. It's the truth. Most of my Spanish was picked up by watching television, not a very interactive way of learning a language. I was very shy growing up and I tried my best not to have to speak Spanish in front of people. I got in trouble more than once for refusing to read aloud in class. I though my accent was terrible and my vocabulary often was lacking. To make it worse, I surrounded myself with friends who spoke English. So I became pretty good at understanding Spanish but I've never been comfortable speaking it.

I then moved back to the States and in the twenty-eight years since I have slowly lost my vocabulary. I read posts from old Guatemalan classmates on Facebook and I can hardly understand them, though a lot of the problem are the idioms (i.e. the slang). I've had to use
Google Translate to read some of them. I guess I'm an example of "use it or loose it."

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