Friday, August 08, 2008
a rose in spanish grammar
Factor #6 -- the challenge of a new language
This may seem like one of those factors that would apply to every area of Mexico. But, as every tourist discovers, you can easily visit Mexico without speaking a word of Spanish.
The services that count on tourist dollars hire people who can speak a number of tourist languages -- some extremely well. I remember a young waiter I met this year who spoke impeccable English. It turned out he was in Mexico only temporarily. He was raised in Fort Collins, Colorado.
There are plenty of stories like that. And people who are content with being permanent tourists in Mexico, there is no need to learn a single word of Spanish. We all know people who have been in Mexico for years who have gladly accepted that challenge.
Of course, they do not live in Mexico -- they cannot live when they cannot communicate. I always imagine that Mexico must seem to them about as incomprehensible as Gary Larson's Ginger the cartoon dog, who hears everything as: "Blah blah blah, Ginger." (Sorry for the petty larceny, Jonna.)
I know my limitations. Even though I have dabbled in a few languages over the years, I have been able to use them only after I learn the basics, put them to use on a regular basis (just like a child), and eventually learn to think in the language.
On a blog recently, someone posted a rule related to animal training -- horses, I think. It takes 30 days to teach a horse a command -- and it can be lost with one mere inconsistency. That is me. I cannot have too many English safety valves available or I will never learn Spanish.
I have picked up some great hints on how to start thinking in Spanish. The Learnables offers a good first step. I also have tools to build my vocabulary. I will try to get as much of that accomplished before I head south. But I know I will need to put what I learn in consistent use daily or it will simply slip away from me.
Is this factor still important to me?
Extremely. This is a make or break factor for me.
Grade for Melaque:
Melaque has a very small English-speaking expatriate community. And they do not huddle together as teeming masses. As far as I can tell, the English-speakers are spread throughout the town. As a Mexican tourist town, Spanish is the lingua franca. To survive, I will need to learn and to be brave enough to try out my language skills. And they will develop.
Who knows, I may be teaching that course in Western Civilization 201 at some Mexican university before I am put to my final rest. I may as well aim high.
Next post: time to read; time to learn; time to rest