Saturday, 20 June 2009

swimming and studying

My plan to spend every morning/lunchtime last week in the pool was scuppered by an e mail Kate received on Tuesday night. Anabel, the training coordinator at International House, needed some extra students for her course for new Spanish teachers, with the lessons (which would be free for us) running from 9.30am until 11.30am every morning - were we available?

It was very nice of her to think of us - we'd obviously built up a reputation as 'good' students - but I was a little confused as at the end of the last course in May she had told us that there weren't any more until July. When we turned up on Thursday, it became clear that what she had meant was - "there weren't any more for your level." Kate and I, previously among the best students in our Spanish classes, are now firmly chasing the game, having joined a class that is clearly more advanced than our last.

Our very first exercise centered around a tense we'd never come across before, the pluscuamperfecto, which is formed by using the imperfect tense of haber as an auxiliary verb with the main verb in past participle. As this is basically the same as French, and as its usage is the same as the English past perfect, we were quickly able to grasp the salient points, though our usage continued to be clumsy as we'd only just got the hang of past participles, preterito and the imperfect tense, let alone using them in unison. Confused? So were we.

Here's an example:
Cuando llegre al stadio, el partido ya habia empezado = (when I arrived at the stadium, the match had already started.)
'llegre' here is in the preterito indefinido, the Spanish equivalent of the English present simple, 'habia empezado' being the pluscuamperfecto of empezar (to start); like the English past perfect its used to talk about a finished action in the past that had happened before something else happened. So in order to use this tense correctly we had to remember the endings and formation of three other tenses!

Later in the class we were thrown into verb collocations - which verbs are followed by an infinitive and which by a gerund. Seeing as we've never been taught how to form the gerund, this was definitely asking us to run before we can walk.... we're just about keeping up! However, I haven't let all of this set me back; I've still managed to go swimming 6 days out of 7 this week!

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