After a glorious long weekend spent in Boston visiting 2 of my favorite people on the planet and attending one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever seen (seriously, the ceremony was AMAZING), I started Spanish on Tuesday. My class is pretty large in terms of usual class size at the FSI; there are six of us. One guy speaks Portuguese but the rest of us haven’t formally studied Spanish and at least one member of the class has had zero exposure to the language, as surprising as that may sound in this day and age. Needless to say there are varying levels of comprehension in my class. I understand the spoken stuff pretty well and my reading comprehension is decent I think, but I have a little more trouble speaking. I think the problem mostly stems from Arabic being my “default” foreign language so at times today I found myself answering a question by saying “لا” (the Arabic word for no) instead of just saying “no.” I’m not the only person in class mixing up languages so I’m definitely in good company but it’s going to take some time before my default changes. So far my vocabulary is sadly limited but I learn at least a dozen new words each day and we’re finally ending the focus on spelling and the alphabet and moving on to grammar. I’m hopeful that by the end of the week I’ll at least understand how to conjugate regular verbs so I can start expanding my vocabulary.
It’s a pretty intense schedule but they give us plenty of time to absorb information, at least right now. I’m not sure I’ll agree with that statement in four months when I’m learning the subjunctive tense, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 🙂 Currently, I have class for four hours each day and at least one of those hours is spent doing reading comprehension exercises. We’re on a block schedule, so we have class for two hours, then independent study/lunch for two hours, then class for two hours. The labs are open for independent study after the block ends, but so far I’ve been going home to chill for a bit and take a break and then doing my homework in the comfort of my favorite chair with a cup of my favorite tea. The FSI has amazing resources for language learning and luckily most of them are online and available to access from home. Every day I’ve tried out a couple of new ones and I am so amazed at how useful and comprehensive these tools are. I wish that I had had these kinds of online resources when I was learning Arabic.