Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Yo Sólo Hablo Un Poco De Español.

Yes, I only speak a little Spanish.

As do the kids.

And this has got to change.

I recently read another Costa Rican Blog describing the authors' aim to conquer the language. To be able to understand and communicate proficiently within a year. He expressed his desire not to be yet another expat that does not learn his host country's' language. And I feel the same. 

Easier said than done.

Whenever we meet locals, they automatically assume that I understand everything that they say to me because DH is fluent in Spanish. If I say "No Entiendo", I am simply ignored and spoken to with even more enthusiasm and gusto. If I plead "Mas despacio por favor" (speak slower please), I am greeted with less speed, but more words!

Now I am told that I understand more than I speak; when DH chats to his Spanish speaking friends and family, I can usually pick up on the gist of the conversation, even if I don't comprehend all of the individual words. Here in CR however, I find that I am often at a complete loss when DH is talking to the locals. I can usually understand what he says, but the Ticos - no idea! Central American Spanish is obviously different to Venezuelan Spanish which in turn is inconsistent with Spanish Spanish. But to top it off, the Ticos drop half of the words in the sentence, so much so that even DH struggles at times to master what is being said to him. I guess the Tico slang/dialect is just as hard to get to grips with as Geordie or Brummie vernacular.

Anyway, I am certainly capable of making myself understood in a restaurant, buying from the deli-counter at the grocery store or other food related establishments. If push came to shove, I would probably be able to communicate with the doctors of where the pain might be or direct a stranger to the nearest  ... (fill in the blank and I hopefully will know the word). However, as I am a bit shy (!) I never really practice any of the words I know and I certainly wouldn't dream of making conversation in Spanish; just too British I guess. Worried that I am making a fool of myself.

Back to the point in hand; reading this guys blog reminded me that learning the language is one of the many reasons we came to this country and as of yet, we have advanced very little. The kids at school all want to practice their English, which is very proficient, with our boys and engage in very little Spanish conversation in return. When we have raised the matter with the school, and asked them to teach our boys more Spanish, the school offers a few lessons, but these are not followed up or seemingly encouraged. 

Added to this, I am quite lazy and I am happy to let DH do most of the talking now (makes a change I know), as it is easier and quicker. Although today, it was down to me to make the cable people understand that we are without internet most afternoons, as DH was out running errands. DH bemoans the fact that we are still habla Inglés en casa, but it is just easier.

So to another resolution that is for the whole of 2014 and not just for the New Year. Me and the boys will crack this language thing! Similarly to the other blogger, I am going to set myself goals and document my progress, or lack of it, in weekly updates; that way it will force me to do what I say I am going to do.

This weeks goal then is to become more or less adept with numbers. Not too hard a task really, but I get confused when it comes to currency: I find when paying for something, I just listen to the first figures said and then hand over a larger bank note to compensate for the fact that I did not fully understand what I was being told. For example, two litres of milk costs one thousand one hundred and fifty colones, which translates as un mil ciento cincuenta - so I hand over a 2000 , note as I only really picked up on the 'un mil'. Stupid of me I know, made worse by the fact that YS totally gets numbers. So this is just a challenge for me and ES and I will report back next week. 

For my second challenge - well that is up to you my reader to decide. Write your easy-to-achieve goals in the comment box!


Gabriela Bernate said...

As an SLPA, helping kids with language difficulties (not that you have any language processing issues) but to do it this way, I am wondering if it will build your foundation for the language: learn your nouns (all) go around the house, garden etc and name it! verbs (all the great action words...) categories (insects, transportation, veg, fruit, etc) antonyms, synonyms, multiple meaning words ( if there are any) fly: a bird can fly, a fly is an insect, a plane can fly.

stella B said...

Thanks Gaby, Nouns are easy to learn. It is those damn verb endings that add to my confusion!

Jane said...

I know that DH is fluent and teaching you but how about going to Spanish lessons. A good way to meet people too.

stella B said...

Yes, that was supposed to happen this month, but was too late to enroll
in local lessons. Have to wait 6-8 weeks til the next course starts.