Monday, May 19, 2008

dancing with español; or, sleep-deprived ramblings of a would-be trilingual

Estela, Cynde, and Katie, you'd be so proud of me: I'm taking a "Spanish for Librarians" class! I want to be able to communicate with the Hispanophone parents of my Reading Buddies without having to resort to tortuous circumlocution. Class started today--and it just felt so good to be taking a concrete step to learn how to communicate for real (not just conjugate) in another language. Seeing how much I could understand from the teacher's rapid-fire all-Spanish directions and explanations turned out to be fun--a welcome change from the challenge of understanding Griffin's all-baby coos and cries. (Unfortunately, he doesn't come with a bilingual infant-parent dictionary.)

Oh, that's one of the new words I learned today! Unfortunately. "Desafortunadamente." What a mouthful! It's so long you regret deciding to tackle it once you get to the middle, but unfortunately, you must continue to the end. "Desafortunadamente." It sounds like a dance--the Macarena, but morose.

But I digress. The teacher kindly told me that my vocabulary and grammar were great considering how little Spanish I've formally studied, but that I sound like a French person when I speak Spanish. Yet isn't that preferable to sounding like an American?! At least they're both Romance languages. (Yay for cognates!)

Don't ask me how I have time for this with a baby around plus my library job plus my tutoring. (I don't. My blog is suffering from neglect! Sorry. And it's been a while since I read my favorite blogs--but I promise I'll drop by soon, Jeanne et al.!)

Oh, and I have a new tutoring client in French: an adult who hopes to study in France eventually. She wants to work primarily on conversation. I can't wait! I think we'll use newspaper articles and websites as a springboard for discussion and to explore French culture.

Okay, I'll admit it: while I love my job at the library, I do miss teaching French (and speaking it to people who don't drool copiously and holler incoherently in my ear). Griffin's adorable, but it's hard to hold a meaningful conversation with him.

Here's Griffin doing the Desafortunadamente dance. See? I told you he was adorable!

All righty, enough of this. It's late and I'm getting loopy. I must go to bed. Desafortunadamente.


  1. Today, this fashion-conscious, vintage-loving baby wears an ensemble furnished by a long-since-closed downtown department store (back before they were all in malls, remember?); it's a faux suede crimson coverall worn by his uber-stylish Uncle Matt in 1978. The train applique adds a timeless, boyish touch. Nothing desafortunadamente about this outfit!

    Okay. Now I REALLY need to get some sleep.

  2. That's great you are learning Spanish! I have a student this year who lived in France for a time and she is always pronouncing Spanish with a French accent.

    Griffin and his ensemble are adorable!

    And, yes, you must stop by my blog when you get a chance and read all my latest brilliant thoughts!

  3. Snort,
    Little guy is headed for the runway with that ensemble!
    Good for you learning Spanish! I've decided to try my hand at Chinese now. I'm just working from a book and CD (I know, I _know_). But I have a lot of Chinese lady friends who are happy to help me (laugh at me) too.

  4. Already dressing in vintage! Sarah, are you raising a hipster baby? Does he have a supply of ironic onesies? :)

    I remember the days of the big downtown department store. My mom would take me to the old Miller & Paine and we'd eat lunch in their restaurant - mac & cheese (the best kind, with the noodles on top all crunchy from baking) and the most amazing cinnamon rolls. People in Nebraska (those over 30, at least) still remember those cinnamon rolls.

  5. Sarah, Your energy and enthusiasm for languages is amazing! That's great that you are studying Spanish and that you'll be able to use what you're learning with library patrons. Although I studied French in college, I really wished that I knew more about Spanish when I started teaching survival English courses for Migrant Farm Workers. Can't wait to hear more about your progress in these new adventures! Griffin is really adorable; thanks for sharing the cute picture!

  6. Jeanne, I promise I'll come visit soon!

    Amy, Chinese?!! Do you ever sleep?

    Tara, today Griffin wore a bright yellow t-shirt that says in 1970s disco letters "Inside this t-shirt is one terrific kid," also a hand-me-down from his uncle. So not ironic, but not opposed to becoming more hipster.

    Thanks for the compliments, Mary!

  7. So, a month into my Spanish class, I have a better grip on ser vs. estar and I know how to conjugate and choose between the preterit and the imperfect (fortunately the rules are very similar to French). But my irregular verbs (in any tense) run wild and I'm still clueless when native speakers speak at a normal rate. On the other hand, I'm a bit less self-conscious about speaking and I've picked up some very useful phrases that I could actually use with a real live library patron!