¿Dijiste Qué?6:05 AM
So that leaves Spanish -- a good thing, too, since I have modest linguistic abilities due to my homeschooling mother's sincerest efforts. Spanish it is. Speaking of requirements, all incoming freshmen must take an online language placement exam in their language of choice. I took mine today.
I could talk to a two-year-old in Spanish, a great fragmented discussion on perritos, leche and el color azul. Oh, and if the two-year-old sang the days and months of the year, by all means, I could belt it out with her. Otherwise my conversational Spanish is nonexistent, so I had no idea what to say to my imaginary friend in the Student Union who asked me something -- or was I supposed to ask? All right, back up: I had no idea how to answer basic questions. Back up further: I had no idea what the basic questions were. I can't read Spanish sentences -- nothing beyond El gato es negro. The two-year-old and I would have great fun with Dick and Jane...except I'm not sure how to conjugate the verbs in See Spot run.
After guessing on the verb forms and skipping the creative writing section (we will never know what I should have said to my friend in the Student Union), I about died at the two big blocks of very confusing, very Spanish narrative. This much I understood: His name was Luis. He was in jail. I don't know why. He was going to die. There was this captain dude (I think I made that up), there was a priest, and there was an urchin who, if I read it right, had many curious boys -- which doesn't make any sense at all, but Hillsdale's Spanish department might be pulling my leg. Oh, don't be impressed at my ability to translate the word urchin from Spanish. It was listed in the vocabulary.
In any case, I closed my eyes and pressed random buttons until "Save and Submit" came into view. I'm definitely taking Spanish 101 this fall.
Which is sad, considering how much I should have learned in the past twelve years. You graduates and wiser students understand the pain once you realize that the things you threw tantrums over at age 7 really did make a difference come high school and college.
I started my Spanish education informally, my mom being from Texas and all, and learned grammatically-illiterate commands and basic vocabulary. We sang the songs from the Family Circus video -- Me gusta la playa! Dulces de chocolate! Me gusta comprar con mama y papa! Volar! Then I sat through tortuous hours of this "see and hear" program for elementary students. You looked at a cartoon (I only remember el hombre gordo) while listening to the Spanish speaker. Brilliant idea -- except sometimes we could understand neither the picture nor the speaker. I could only quote Los bomberos vienen by heart.
The program was, of course, guaranteed to turn us into fluent speakers by Friday, but due to ignorance (and probably a good many tantrums), we quit. I could probably prove any 100% guarantee on a language program as a 100% failure. I think I was born with a Spanish language immunity.
Then came Rosetta Stone. You, homeschooler -- I saw you shudder. Am I the only one who took three hours to learn Spanish directions in that last lesson? To this day, I only remember izquierda and derecha, and the reason I can distinguish between the two is because izquierda sounds weirdly wrong which is the opposite of right which is the opposite of left. I remember derecha means right only because I remember what izquierda means.
Quickly you're seeing why I failed Spanish.
The rest of my Spanish education was a combination of reading the backs of ketchup bottles and taking a community education class. We got candy and learned Spanish commands. (Weirdly, I still have the candy but not the knowledge.)
Need I say it? Spanish will not be my strong point this fall. I'll say it in Spanish too: Español no va a ser mi punto fuerte de este otoño. Thank God for Google Translate!
What are your fond language memories?