Monday, 2 March 2009

proceando paso a paso

This Saturday past, our wonderful and multi-lingual friends Belen and Cesar invited us over to their house for a dinner party. Along with David and Natalie, a charming Venezuelan couple whose company we've enjoyed several times before, they had invited a Spanish couple, Alberto and Marito, whose English was rather limited. Thrillingly, however, we were able to communicate (with some generous understanding) for the entire night (9 til 2) in Spanish. Impressive really, especially considering we only really know two tenses - el preterito perfecto and the future with "ir". Better still, we could understand a fair amount of what was said - not only to us, but between the Spanish speakers as well. Naturally we had to ask for clarification at times and there was a great deal of "como se dice (English word) en espanol?" but it's all very exciting!

For the past three weeks we had been attending 90 minute classes nearly every morning at International House, where trainee Spanish teachers were able hone their skills on us (as a result the lessons were free). While the early start was a pain - especially last week when Cathy and Tish (Kate's mother and Godmother) were visiting and we would rather have been spending time with them - the benefits are already showing. We're on that steep learning curve all beginners experience where you easily tell that you are progressing; soon (I hope) we'll hit the Intermediate Plateau, where progression becomes less tangible. By then you have the structure of the language more or less under command and it's a case of improving pronunciation and receptive skills, learning vocabulary and getting to grips with the less everyday grammar points (e.g. when to use "cual" for 'which', rather than the usually ubiquitous "que").

That's a way off yet though - as we can presently only talk about things we have done (hemos hecho) and things we are going to do (vamos a hacer) there are a few tenses (was doing, did, would do, are doing) we need to learn before we get to the dizzy heights of intermediate proficiency.

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