Friday, October 12, 2007

Raise a hand for embarrassment!

So last night was my Spanish class. I have it from 6-9pm every Thursday. It makes for a long day but usually pretty enjoyable. I'm in an introductory spanish class, as I've never taken it before. When deciding upon which class to take I was torn between conversational spanish and introductory spanish. I was advised to take the intro course since it covered grammer and the other class does not. Well, grammer is great and knowing how to say things are great but what's really important is pronunciation and accentuation. We don't cover that because it's not the focus of the course according to the government. Apparently my class does more grammer than it's really supposed to, which I should be thankful for. However, for the first time in a long time, I got really embarassed in a language class.

I took German for about four years and even lived over there for a while. True, I haven't spoken it regularly in about six years but I still remember much of the basics. Also, I've had the ability to pick up some of the languages of places that I've traveled, most notably in Turkey. Spanish, for the most part, has been the same, except I seem to have trouble with the translation part. Anyways, that all leads up to my embarassment. There's about 25 people in my class and all comprised of working professionals. They come from various jobs, mostly governmental and you can tell they're all intelligent. This is not a typical community college language class. You've got to be on the ball here. Well I don't usually voluntarily answer questions in the class because I'm not as quick as some at answering. I'm still figuring out what the exercise is even asking when they begin to answer. So last night my teacher decided to have me interact a little more and did so by having me read this paragraph in Spanish that was about Costa Rica.

It was a disastor. As I went along I could feel myself getting redder and redder in the face (and for those who know me, I can get pretty red). I felt like everyone was watching and thinking, "Man, she's horrible, please stop, or come on already." I just wanted to be swallowe d up by the floor. I felt like I was in the slow kindergarten readers class, which I've never been in. I stumbled over the words, even basic ones especially as I got more and more embarrassed and kept pronouncing words and letters wrong. I felt like it was never going to end. Granted I had some very difficult words and I am a beginner but it was bad.

I then realized later that night after class was over that part of the problem was we don't learn about pronunication or accents. It's not covered. So here I am trying to say the words in what I think is the proper way without having learned the proper way. This just seems like I serious lack in the grammer aspect. Maybe it's just me...

Finally, I realized part of the problem relates to the overall language learning aspect in America. We don't teach foreign languages at early ages, unlike every other major country in the world. Asia, Europe, South America, and even places in Africa all begin teaching children very early. Yet here we are asking adults to learn a language. It makes no sense. This was evidenced by a girl in my class, and she incidently sits at the same table with me. She's Russian and not only speaks Russian and English but also German and French. Plus she knows some Italian, Polish and is currently learning Spanish. She said it's just a natural part of their educational system. They learn English from an early age and as they get older they add other languages. I saw this in Germany, too. My host family's daughter, Eva, spoke English, German, and French. Personally, I feel this is a serious breach in our educational system and believe that it should be changed. Who's with me?

That's enough about my language embarrassment. I know we've all felt embarrassed at some point. So raise your hand if you have!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Hint of Fall

Today was the first real taste of fall. I love this time of the year. Fall is my favorite season; however, having grown up in the Midwest I know this year's fall will be different. I've always heard that the trees on the Eastern Coast are so beautiful when they begin to change. Now I finally get to see if that's true. I live next door to a park, literally next door. When I went for a hike a few days ago the leaves hadn't begun to change. Last night I noticed the first hints of red, gold, and orange. Fall's coming! Woohoo! My friend here says that soon we'll go apple picking for Macintosh apples, the preferred apple around these parts. That should be fun and delicious. Although the fall season did make me think of corn mazes from back home. I wonder what this year's theme will be. Last year is was pirates... alas good times.

Fall is such a great time to see the beauty displayed in the world. As I was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue today to go to work I looked and saw a very gorgeous deep blue sky. It was littered with large white cumulous clouds and was so picturesque. I stopped on a street corner to see the White House and Capitol amid this lovely sky and it took my breath away. They just stood out so much. The beauty of nature was enhancing the beauty of man. It's was great. This is also the first fall where I've never had school. This will be a nice change as I'll be able to truly appreciate the season, feel the leaves crunch as I hike through the park and have the time to see the change into winter. Usually I'm so busy with work and school that I miss it. Alas, no longer. I can't wait.

Fall truly is a beautiful time. Take some time to go on a stroll, look up into the sky, and see what beauty the world has to behold.