Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spanish for Gringas

Free clip art courtesy of
In a previous post in my main blog I mentioned that I was making a more concerted effort to learn Spanish. I started this blog, Montana Gringa, to keep myself on track.  

My Approach

I already have Spanish for Gringos: Level One and Spanish for Gringos: Level Two, so I will work through those first. (I also have the flash cards I mentioned in the post I linked to, above.) I am fortunate to have many Latino students who are happy to help me improve my Spanish with practice, so I am in good stead with practical experience. Once I've finished those two books I will go on to an actual Spanish text book, so I can learn how to properly write (and read) in Spanish. 

I am already able to communicate in the most basic ways with my Latino students, though I wouldn't exactly call it "conversation." I have only the most rudimentary vocabulary, but my pronunciation is actually very good. In fact, a few years ago a Latino student who was not in any of my classes, but whom I greeted daily in Spanish as he passed in the hallway, came up to me and began talking to me in rapid-fire Spanish. I replied, "Yo hablo poco Español." He looked at me, then said in English: "Really? Because you speak Spanish with no American accent." I told him that I appreciated the compliment, but I really could only barely speak Spanish. That was good feedback to get, though--it was the first solid confirmation I had ever received that my Spanish pronunciation was on target. Thank you for the feedback, José. And thanks to Mrs. Brooks, my 9th grade Spanish teacher at Georgia Washington Junior High School in Montgomery, Alabama--everything I know about the rules of Spanish pronunciation I initially learned from her. 

Today's Lesson

Here is the list of words that I am memorizing today (from Spanish for Gringos: Level One, page 19): 
  • agua - water
  • amigo - friend
  • baño - bathroom
  • bueno - good
  • carro - car
  • casa - house
  • comida - food
  • dinero - money
  • grande - big
  • hombre - man
  • más - more
  • mucho - lot
  • mujer - woman
  • muy bien - very well
  • niño - child
  • nombre - name
  • número - number
  • persona - person
  • teléfono - telephone
  • trabajo - work
  • por favor - please 
  • hola - Hi!
  • adiós - Bye!
What? No conjugations? Spanish for Gringos: Level One does not bother with such.  It is interested in getting us speaking in Spanish muy rápido! I'll learn the conjugations later when I follow up the Spanish for Gringos courses with a "real" Spanish textbook. You might wonder why I would bother to do the latter, if the Spanish for Gringos course can get me speaking Spanish muy rápido. Simple: because I want to be able to read and write properly in Spanish as well (and I'll have to pass a written Spanish language exam as part of the requirements for my PhD).  

Another thing you may notice about this list of words is that they might not conform to the strictures of Castilian Spanish. That's because Spanish for Gringos: Level One focuses on American Spanish. Again, I'll learn the more formal variety later, after I've mastered this course. 

One day at a time, though--I'm going to see how often I can use these words correctly today as I go about my Sunday afternoon. 

Until next time, adiós! :-)