After almost six years of living in Mexico and learning Spanish on my own, I am thrilled to have started classes with a real teacher. My first private lesson was on Monday with a lovely American woman who has been living in Mexico for more than 30 years. She used to work with me at the English school and we always got along well, I knew she would be a great choice. She's a grammar and pronunciation taskmaster but kind and funny which takes away some of the pain.
Having always communicated with each other in English, the first couple of classes have been about evaluating my level of Spanish and finding my bad habits. We're starting from scratch, working our way through a text book, first step being general pronunciation and lists and lists and lists of vocabulary which I must repeat. We've discovered my problem areas and I am busting my jaw trying to break free of years of mispronouncing the letter "i". No one has ever corrected me, I am astonished I got away with it for so long. My face actually hurts with all the pronunciation exercises, the mouth takes a very different shape with the Spanish vowels and the "new" muscles are getting a work out. I feel like I am back in kindergarten, but it's a good feeling, who didn't love kindergarten?
While I am capable of carrying on conversations in Spanish, I know that without any formal classes I am making mistakes. If I don't know the correct way to phrase what I want to say, I cheat or I mumble. And I have been allowed to do this. Everyone says "Hablas bien, te entiendo!" ("You speak well, I understand you!"). I think what they are really saying is "You make a lot of mistakes, but we get your point". That's alright, it is communication and I can get what I need or share my ideas, but I am at the point where I should be speaking like a high school student, not a 5 year old.
And so it begins, with the "Ah, Beh, Ceh's", fix the bad pronunciation habits first then move on to my ugly grammar. My teacher has assured me that in a very short time I will be that much closer to fluency. I have all the words, my vocabulary is pretty extensive, but now it's time to put it all in order and make me sound like a grown up when I speak.
I feel really good about this, not only am I moving ahead with my secondary language development, but I am doing something that is just for ME. Any of you parents out there know how difficult it is to find time and money for things not related to the kids, the house, the job, etc, etc, so having a couple of hours a week that are solely for Canucka is a dream. It's really the first time since Max was born that I am doing something for myself and it feels divine, I'm invigorated and excited and grateful for the opportunity.
Ok, off to do some homework, I'll have Max check it when he gets home. He's such a stickler for perfection! And your homework for the day is to learn the vowels in Spanish, here's a little video to help you out.....