Learning the rules of a language and learning the language are not the same. The rules are important, but learning to communicate is far more important. This series on language learning is not just something I think might work, it is what I am doing right now. I am in the midst of learning Spanish. This involves language school, but it continues far beyond our short time we have with our language school teacher.
On Monday and Tuesday nights, I have the unique opportunity to attend the seminary that is a ministry of the church we attend here. Classes are from 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM. The leaders of the seminary are very kind to let me attend classes there. These classes are more opportunities to learn and practice Spanish. I don’t say very much, most of my learning is by way of listening and watching the interaction between teacher and students. I can see the progression. When I first started going I was more engaged at specific words that were being said. At some point there has been a dramatic shift. Now I have arrived at the place of paying attention to the topic and what is being communicated (which is far better). I find myself wanting to interject some thought here and there (although I am not quite sure my mouth can say what my mind wants to say). I sit there on those nights learning what is being said! I probably understand 80-85% of what is being communicated in class. It helps that the subject matter is something I am familiar with, but I am learning. I still write down the words that I hear but don’t know the meaning. I look those words up in a dictionary afterwards. We have a break about halfway through the night. This is an opportunity to converse for me. I try to stand outside in the cold night (it is winter at this time) and talk to someone about whatever I can. We almost always talk about how cold it is. We have talked about class and what we were just discussing in class. We talk about upcoming days. Anything I can find to talk about I try to do so. We resume class after the break and I finish listening to the last portion of class. At 10:00 PM, we dismiss and I start for home (about a 15 minute drive). I arrive home to a dark house. Leslie and the kids have already eaten and are now in bed. There is a plate of food left out for me to eat. Leslie will usually get out of bed to greet me and tell me about dinner. I will eat at the table and think about how incredible my life is! We get to learn a language and get to do so in some amazing ways!
At the time of this blog, it is winter break. Right now is is a very nasty, rainy day. Winter break lasts 2 weeks. We resume classes next week. I am looking forward to it. The leaders of the seminary have asked me to teach a short class in November/December in the seminary! I should be fluent by then, at least fluent enough to teach a class! This is just another way I am learning the language!