Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No Bueno

Life's been hectic (hence the lack of posting), and to add to it all, Anthony and I have decided to take a Spanish class on Monday nights at the University. Our first class was this week.

We were standing with the other students, milling outside the classroom door, when our instructor showed up. "Hello, I'm Patricio!" she said. "Not really! Patricio is a man's name. I'm Christina, and I'll be teaching the class." Well, Anthony selected this particular class based on Patricio's bio, thinking he would be ideal for teaching neophytes from his background. We filed into the desks. "Buenas Noches," said Christina, followed by a long sentence in rapid Spanish. We twittered nervously.

"All of you have had some Spanish, yes? This class is just to loosen you up?"

No, this class is for beginners, we told her.

"Yes, beginning conversation, which means you have some background?"

Uh, no, beginning Spanish for beginners.

"Oh, that is not what Patricio told me. Are you sure?"

Fortunately, someone brought the class description from the catalog with them and read to her, "...a class for those with no prior knowledge of Spanish. Emphasis will be on correct pronunciation and basics..."

So now, she believed us, and then told us a long explanation of her background. She is from Peru and just earned her PhD in social psychology (not language). Then she told us she would introduce herself in Spanish, and we would go around the room and do the same, saying where we were from, what our profession was, and why we wanted to learn espanol.

There were 12 of us in the class, and this took TWO HOURS because when someone said, "I want to learn Spanish because I am taking a class in Mexico City this summer and I am learning photography," she translated the whole thing and explained it, even verbs like "will be taking." Ditto for "because my sister is getting married in Venezuela and I want to speak with the family," and "because I took Spanish in high school and want to remember it," or "my finance has business in Mexico and I am tired of going and him doing all the talking." Never mind that we didn't know articles, or pronunciation, or conjugation, she plowed ahead and taught us complex sentences, and had us all repeat them.

I said I wanted to learn Spanish because I live in Texas (yo vivo in Texas), and Anthony said for his job (para trabajo). Keep it simple, stupid.

Christina was actually very charming and enthusiastic, but we were a little disappointed at how under prepared she was (although it wasn't her fault - apparently Patricio threw this class at her the day before). She had no handouts and couldn't even tell us what text we would be using, but said she would email it to us once she had a plan.

At the break, Anthony asked if she would go over the alphabet, and she did, emphasizing pronunciation, and that was great. Then in the last 10 minutes of class, she quickly showed us the conjugation of 4 different verbs (amar, beber, cantar, and tener) without telling us what these verbs mean, or explaining the different types of verbs (tener is quite irregular), or even telling us what the different verbs were for (I, you, they??). She also showed us all the pronouns without saying specifically what they were, either. I could keep up from all the lessons I've had in Latin and Italian. I whispered to Anthony I'd explain when we got home, because he, like most of the class, was left behind.

This class is quite expensive for us, since we are paying 2 tuitions AND a babysitter. I hope it gets better next week. Por favor.


Jess said...

Oh my!!! That sounds like a crazy hope it gets better too!!! Please don't think learning a Spanish is a mistake simply from your first class, hopefully your teacher gets the hang of it and learns that your class is really a class for a BEGINNERS!!! grrr.

Buena Suerte! (Good Luck!)

Cousin Bevie said...

I'm sure it will get better. Surely after she has a plan her teaching skills will improve.

I know amar means " to love"
beber means " to drink"
cantar means " to sing"
and tener means " to have"

Weird, I took Spanish One last year and these verbs came back to me almost automatically!

Hang in there, guys!


A.Norma said...

I well remember one particular phrase that I learnt when I went to Spanish classes,Jenn..."Donde esta la retrataz?" ...'Where is the lavatory?' the Spanish lady that I used this phrase on kept pointing to the nearet pub!! there was me saying "no no " she was nodding saying "yes yes" ...turned out (as you may have guessed) that the loo was in the Taverna :o( anyway I tried. :o)

Lisa said...

Drop it, drop it, drop it.
Complain/explain to the office until you get a full refund. If you spent this much time on your post telling us how disappointing & frustrating it was, I doubt it will improve all that much next time.

Or am I just Negative Nancy?

Emily said...

I kinda agree with Negative Nancy, I mean Lisa.

Don't give up the idea of learning Spanish, but don't settle for less than you paid for either.

I remember from my Spanish classes, the conjugation usually goes:
Yo (I)
Usted (you formal)
Tu (you informal)
Ustedes (you plural)
Nosotros (us)
But I might have switched the Usted and Tu.

Leah said...

tacos, burittos, fajitas and tortillas...ummm yep thats about all I know in spanish...ha ha....That would be fun to take a class together. Maybe my hubby and I should do something like that.

Leigh-Ann said...

It sounds as if the teacher is very unorganized, which wasn't her fault in the first lesson, but she didn't even seem to have a common-sense approach to teaching a language when she was winging it. I'd consider dropping the class as well.

It's not the same as being in a classroom, but have you explored the Rosetta Stone language DVDs? You can order a free sample DVD on their website. I've been thinking of learning Japanese and I think the DVDs are great, especially when you want to learn a conversational version of a language.

john diehard said...

It's always best to get pushed in the deep end if you want to learn Spanish or any language, get the brain going!