Thursday 11 March 2010

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

My intention was to spend a month learning Spanish at the start of my trip. I’m reaching the end of my fourth week of lessons. At the outset, I was confident I could utilise the spare brain space freed up by my exit from the gambling industry and quickly assimilate the new information.

It turns out it's not quite that simple. I didn’t fully appreciate how tricky it would be. I mean, why would anyone want to learn a language that has fifteen different tenses?

I've always been a fairly quick learner, so it is unsettling and unfamiliar to sit in a classroom not understanding a word the guy says, and completely unable to see a way out of the maze of ignorance I've unwittingly led myself into.

My normal approach is to try and impose reason and structure upon things. Once you grasp how they work, what their rules are, then you can identify and understand the irregularities. In principle, I think, this works perfectly with a language. In practice, of course, it doesn't. My mind is overflowing with vocabulary, verbs and conjugations.

First I struggle to find the verb, then to decide upon the tense and finally I have to rake through the reams of conjugations and irregularities before arriving at my decision. The result? One word. Try making a sentence like that, or worst still holding a conversation.

Honestly, I really did think I could learn enough to get me by in a month. Hilarious I know. For now, I've just finished my tarea and might just have an early night in the hope that a restorative ten hours' kip is just what my poor little mind might need.

One thing's for sure - no Spanish lessons next week. Instead, I think a week free of commitment, just enjoying Buenos Aires. Up until now, I've struggled to find the time to enjoy it. That together with some serious Spanish consolidation, if the past month's miniscule advances are not to have been in vain.

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