I am in Buenos Aires province, in the city of La Plata, and my family and I have lived here now for almost four months. I am a missionary in the midst of learning the language in one of the most amazing places on Earth (although I am admittedly biased). I am learning culture and customs while learning the language. This is the fourth post of this series. Language learning must go far beyond language school. So what else can be done to learn the language? Rules are important but practice is just as important if not more important. When our daughters each learned to talk, we never sat them down and explained them what nouns were and when to use them. They heard us speak and slowly started mimicking what we were saying. They could never have explained what prepositions are and when to use them, but they used them frequently. Before long they were talking… A LOT!
We are learning the rules of the language, but we are also practicing. The good news is we are in a country full of people who speak the language. We practice Castellano (Spanish) whenever we interact with anyone, but I believe we have to be more purposed. Therefore I have set up a small “schedule” to practice the language. In the mornings during the week, I go to the Carnicero (a carnicero is a butcher shop). This is from about 9:30 AM to 1 PM. 1pm is when they close for siesta (click the link to read about the siesta from our May 2016 missions letter). Tony and Lily are the proprioters of the carniceria (butchers are called “carniceros”). They have been married for over 30 years. They are an Argentine couple with deep roots in La Plata. They have travelled to many places in Argentina through the years. From 9:30 AM to 1 PM we talk. We talk about places in Argentina, food, customs, sports, the events that transpired the day prior, and of course beef. We talk about anything we can. They are very kind to me. Lily consistently corrects my Spanish and tells me how to say things in a better way (I need it, it is very helpful). In this time, I am learning more than just about how to say the right words, I am learning how to think like an Argentine, I am learning what to do and not to do beyond just words, I am learning how to communicate! I asked God to give me someone who I can spend hours with per day, who will correct me as I speak, who will teach me. God answered my prayers in Tony and Lily. These hours I share with them are progressing my language ability more than I can explain! This is just another way, a huge way, we are learning the language.
There are other ways we are learning the language. More posts are coming. Check back soon.