Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On learning a language

I made it through my first attempt at teaching a Bible story in Spanish. Sorry Sara but no video! I was nervous enough without having a camera pointed at me :-) I spent so much time writing the story and agonizing over the verb endings that I didn't really have much time to practice. And then when Ivan looked it over, he changed ALMOST EVERY SINGLE CONJUGATION. Will I ever get the hang of when to use the subjunctive and when NOT to?

But I am learning. Really. Some things are so counter-intuitive to the way we speak English that it just takes time and hearing it many times before it sinks in. Or at least that's how it works for me.

For example, Americans tend to say "I need to..." or "You need to..." and it's natural to assume you'd do the same in Spanish: "Necesito..." or "Necesitas..." But such is not the case. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but you use the phrase tener que in place of necesitar when referring to something that needs to be done: "Tengo que ir al mercado" (I have to go to the market) or "Tienes que cocinar el pollo" (You have to cook the chicken). You use necesitar if talking about some thing you need -- like a book: "Necesito el libro."

Little things like that.

Lots and lots of little things that pile up into big mountains of things, causing me to feel overwhelmed y entonces tengo que parar y respirar hondo ( and then I have to stop and take a deep breath).

I'd be interested in knowing how others have dealt with learning a language. We all learn at a different pace. Goodness knows I've told a lot of other homeschooling moms that over the years and experienced it with my own kids. Maybe it's normal to be immersed in a language for a year and still feel wholly inadequate to carry on a coherent conversation?

How much does learning aptitute play into it? Our personalities? The way we feel physically?

Any thoughts? Ideas? Snide remarks :-)

Y ahora tengo que encontrar chocolate.


2Thinks said...

I took French in high school. This is what I can say in French today:

Michelle, Anne, vous traivellez? Er, non. Nous regardons the television. Pourquoi? Les Duponts arrive dans une heure. Ah maman.

I think it means:

Michelle, Anne,are you studying? Um, no, we are watching television. Why?
The Duponts arrive in one hour.
Oh, mom.

Pretty sure I haven't spelled the French words correctly. I believe this was a drill we had to do over and over in class and low and behold, it stuck! All these years.

Pretty beneficial, wouldn't you say?

SusanD said...

Ha! Like Heidi, I took French in HS. There were a few of her words I understood. But don't remember much. Good grief....that was eons ago. And the Spanish in your post....I knew that pollo was chicken. hahaha I've really considered taking Spanish but have enough on my plate at the moment. You're doing great...keep up the good work. Blessings, SusanD

rita said...

What story did you choose?
Your language explanations about idioms and differences are right on.
We noticed when Amaia was here how OFTEN we all use idioms. We were constantly trying to explain sayings or expressions.
As for your questions...my answer is: All of the above.
And a favorite quote:
"The best way to learn a language is every method."

rita said...

There is a language teaching/learning tool/technique called TPRS (http://www.tprstories.com/what-is-tprs.htm)
The other similar method, the training I recently went through, is C.O.L.A. See www.lingolynx.com/ more for adults.

Sharon said...

I suddenly have serious doubts as to whether I have said "necesito" instead of "tengo que". (I hope not! that would be too embarrasing! -she said, tongue-in-cheek) I never thought about that rule before. Recently I know for a fact that I used a word incorrectly (made it female when it is always supposed to be male.) Just remember that I've been speaking Spanish for 42 years!

skoots1mom said...

i have no clue
i only speak english, and a little american sign language with my hands.

the rules would overdose me, too

you're doing great, sounds to me.
hope u'r having a great week :)

sara said...

I think that is why English is so hard to learn.

I hate to admit that I was once fairly fluent in spanish and spoke portuguese. I minored in languages and was an exchange student to Spain. However, when you don't use a language for, lets say 20 years, you lose it....quickly.

I do think that some people pick up languages easier than others. and I especially think the younger you are the easier it is!!!!