Saturday, January 25, 2014

Learning Spanish, Update the First

You may have noticed that one of my New Year resolutions was to learn Spanish. Since it was such an awesome thing I added it to this year too. But how is that really going?

Hmmm…. Last year actually went pretty well. Not so much the beginning of the year when I flailed around trying to find something to do that wouldn’t blow my budget. Towards the end I was able to sign up for a class at the community college to start me off.

Confession moment, okay? I hated that class. I love the idea of learning Spanish and actually knowing some Spanish, but the in between of actually learning was not my favorite. Languages are hard at the best of time and this was the first class I’d been in officially in years. My brain felt broken. On top of that, it was Monday nights from 6:30 to 9:50. Late nights on Mondays…. Do I really need to explain why that would suck? It turned from difficult to insanely stressful near the end of the semester when there was some form of exam every class. When you only have one class a week, it’s kind of inevitable. So I worked hard, freaked out a lot, got a good grade, and called it done.

Except it wasn’t done. Not until I was fluent, anyway. Learning Spanish isn’t the goal, speaking Spanish is. That’s years of work in the future. So I signed on for Spanish 102.

No one could have been less excited for a class then I was for this one. To make it worse, everyone I knew was excited for me. This was great, right? The few weeks I’d spent without the class had felt very restful. I must have fantasized about dropping it a thousand times, but I stuck it out.

So I walk in the first day of my new Spanish class feeling a little grumpy. That turns into a lot grumpy when the professor turns out to be a jerk and a borderline sexist pig. He yelled at me for disagreeing with him on the meaning of an English word, told us about the failings of his ex-wives, and ridiculed a student until she almost cried. During the break I tried to find a different class. A different day, hopefully a different professor. No such luck. His was the only class available on campus this semester. So I was torn. Do I stick it out? Then, after class was dismissed, he ripped my tablet out of my hands and yelled about how I wasn’t supposed to use cell phones in class. Something just snapped in my head. Why would I put up with this if I didn’t have to? Maybe the other kids needed it for their degree, but I was taking the class for fun. I’d already felt overloaded by adding a class on top of the rest of the things going on in my life. I’d wait until summer semester and take it then.

So I quit. But that left me in a sticky place. I know how often a temporary quit turns into a permanent quit. How was I going to keep from giving up completely? Because whenever I really want to do something it tends work out after all. You’d think I’d learn that and stop stressing myself out. When a friend needed help with one of her own classes I offered to be her study buddy. When I whined about my woes she offered to help me keep learning in exchange for the help I was giving her. A native Spanish speaker, her mother was a language professor in her home country. She was more than happy to help as long as she got to correct my grammar. She’s one of those fiends who thinks that’s fun.
So this now, another class in the summer, and maybe someday fluency. I can dream, right?


  1. Ugh. That professor sounds like a tool. I hope you reported him to some higher ups. Good luck with learning Spanish! I suck at languages.

  2. Jennavier, have you heard of Duolingo? If not, it can be downloaded on tablets and cellular devices. I swear by their approach to language learning and exercises. And best part, some portions are completely free and other are as little as $10.00 for three months. Go get em' girl!