Spanglish Matters

Mar 1st 2010: Travel

Having just sat through the first four hours of my Spanish class I realized how profoundly happy I had been with my good-for-almost-nothing language skills. After taking two placement tests (I had aced the first one. Sorta.) I ended up in the fourth level class. I felt great hoping there would only be five levels or so and that I was close to mastering the language, being able to join the political discussions at the next table, and to be able to laugh and cry while following the dramatic unfolding of events in Schwartzenegger’s masterpiece: Daño Colateral.

In a cruel twist of fate, however, there turn out to be about fourteen levels. Worse yet, in a class of seven I am definitely at the bottom of the language pit. And it’s dark down here. My saving grace, which had landed me in this level in the first place, is my excellent sense of grammar. As my parents had promised, those seven years of Latin I had sweated through (literally) in middle school and that I had (successfully) worked hard on forgetting using the ancient technique of killing brain cell by brain cell using nothing but college grade beer, finally started coming in handy. Turns out a neuron or two had survived the torterous treatment and they, even though I would not have held it against them if they hadn’t, overcame their mutual hate for me and helped out.

However, even though it might sound exciting to be able to recognize gramatical patterns based on previous life, out-of-body like experiences, it quickly became painfully obvious that my complete lack of vocabulary made me the worst student in the class. By far. The last time I felt this uncomfortable in a class was when I was 12 and thought that my poor drumming skills would allow me to play in a jazz band and signed up for a jazz elective. Fortunately for everyone involved, there was a guy who actually knew how to play and I spent my semester reading in a corner while the class rehearsed. But no such luck today. I actually have to answer questions. Which assumes I understood what was being asked. As my friends and relatives can attest, there is no salvation in sight neither: the drowning of the memory section of my brain was quite complete.

As I face the remaining 56 hours with a sense of imminent doom, I brace myself, hope for the school to burn down (a snow day would do too), and decide to swallow the bitter pill (and my pride while I’m at it) and am signing up for the beginner vocabulary club.

Posted in Travel by Ernst Bruening on March 1st, 2010 at 3:58 pm.

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