I find that writing things on my body is helping me in my mission to learn the Spanish language here in Buenos Aires. Of course, it’s not ideal when you’re flirting with a hot waiter and you forget you have the words for left and right written on your hands, as he tends to think you’re a bit of a retard who shouldn’t be out in public. But the rest of the time, it’s very helpful (ahem).
The first lesson of my first week with Expanish (I’m doing a four week intense course!) started with a whiteboard full of things we didn’t understand… which is why we had some useful pictures to help us on our way.
We delighted in learning how to say ‘My name is…’, ‘I am ? years old’ and ‘I live in Buenos Aires’. We congratulated each other, smiled a lot, felt generally very good about ourselves. And then it got harder. MUCH harder.
Lionel (our awesome teacher here) speaks to us only in Spanish, so the mind literally boggles. I admit, on the first day there were a few moments when I welled up, thought “screw this, get thee to a pub, an IRISH pub, where people understand me!!” But after a few hours, strangely, I started to understand more and more. I guess when you HAVE to learn something, you really do just learn it. I haven’t run away to the pub yet.
As soon as you walk into the Expanish building in the middle of the city, you get the impression that they kind of want to help you, because you’ll find things like this everywhere:
See? Nothing says “we care” like the promise of a discounted pub crawl. But the truth is, there’s a lot of homework, and if you really want to learn a language it’s probably best if you do less boozing and more of things like… well… like pretending you understand everything on the whiteboard…
…and then studying to make sure you really DO understand everything on the whiteboard.
There’s a nice common room in the Expanish building up on the 6th floor with free WIFI/computers/water, which is where I have been
checking Facebook… I mean studying every day from 1-4pm.
At 4pm I head to my crash course, which is an AWESOME 2-hour class to learn the basic conversational stuff you need to get by. “Tienen solucion para lentes de contacto por favor?” helped me out a lot, but not nearly as much as knowing a “foca” is actually a sea lion, and not my homestay host’s blatant disrespect for the creatures in my photos from the Galapagos.
Three more weeks to go!