No Habla Español

by S.C. Torrington on January 8, 2010

greekNow, don’t go getting your hackles up. This isn’t some diatribe about illegal immigration. It’s about my inadequacies in teaching Spanish to Morgan.

Even though I’m confident Morgan will pass the semester, I’m not sure he’ll come away with alotta useful, conversational Spanish. Several of the tech programs at the local community college include Spanish in the Workplace classes. Funny, when I saw that curriculum in the Non-Credit Courses Catalogue, I felt a little less racist by having suggested he learn a little Español for future job situations.

Trying to learn another language feels like decoding a cipher. Because when we look at the written words, it’s easier to see the English connections that give you clues about the word, phrase or at least the meaning of the sentence. But when we watch El Gordo y La Flaca on the Spanish cable station or even Dora the Explorer on Nick Jr., it’s Greek to me.

Spanish is also the only academic class in which I ever got a D, consistently. Ah, si, Señor Carríon, the former bullfighter that would pull up his shirt to show you his nasty gore scars. All those verb tenses and pronoun plurals and masculine and feminine forms just did not translate in my brain. And my ability to “sound out” a written Spanish word was worse than the way I’d butcher English.

Déjà vu’, I’m reading a Spanish paragraph to M and I’m stumbling through it as best I can and I hit a word with a sequence of letters that stops me in my tracks. I’m speechless. I can’t even make phonetic “sounds.” So I look at it again, take a running start and get through it.

I can still hear my father yelling, “Read what’s there!” after I’d insert mystery vowels and extra syllables into words (of any language) as I’d tried to read my homework aloud. And now, Morgan hears the same rant from me.

It’s not a disorder. It’s in our DNA.

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