Do you remember learning a foreign language for the first time? The trouble you have to complete sentences, or even to simply understand the people? The fear of saying things the wrong way?
I remember learning Spanish back in 1996. I took a three month course. Containing talking, writing and reading. Thought I would be able to read and speak quite well Spanish. I even bought in the first two weeks Don Quichote, thinking I would be able to read the book at the end of these three months. I have to admit, that I still have not gotten any further then the first 20 pages. But since then I have read all books of Isabel Allende y Carlos Ruiz Safon in the original version.
But I do not want to talk about reading today, but about talkking. Before I finished the three months of study I started working in a hotel in Granada, Hotel Guadalupe. As a waitress in the restaurant and the bar. I thought my Spanish was good by that time….. well, forget about it.
First of all there were all these typical words concerning the restaurant business. “Coja la bandeja.” What do I have to get? “La bandeja” And what is that? That thing on which you serve the glasses. Oh, a tray. By describing things I learned a lot of words.
Second of all, I was working in Andalucia and actually working with only Granainos, inhabitants of Granada. So they did not speak the offical Spanish language, Castellano, but had a huge Andalucian accent. You might know that that means speaking very quickly and ‘eating’ the words. So they do not pronounce for example the s at the end of a word. “Da me dos mas”, becomes “da me do’ma'”. And that is just a simple example.
Imagine having your lunch break, after your shift ends at 4 o ‘clock, being the only quiri (foreigner) in a group of about 10 people, all granainos chatting all at the same time. Heavy discussions, it seems, as Spaniards can do so well. And you are trying the figure out where they are talking about. And then being asked your opinion about the topic. Well, I will reveal you a secret. My main excuse those days for not having an answer was, “Lo siento no estaba escuchando”, ‘sorry I was not listening’. Even though I was trying my very best to figure out where the hell they were talking about.
But these four months, working there the first spring/summer, were a great foundation for improving my Spanish, being able to understand a whole lot of Spanish speaking people, and getting an Andalucian accent. About that……. I can write an enitre new blogpost.
But I love to know, what your experiences are about learning a new foreign language?