My neighbour in class this week is a lovely French woman, older then me and with the advantage that she speaks French. Advantage? Yes, some of the tenses in French are closer to Spanish than are those in english. And she sounds so much better than I do when she reads out loud. She applies accents correctly. Me? I read like an 8 year old who is not doing well in reading. Truly. Word by painful word. I have an incessant stream of chatter in Spanish running through my head but that’s not how it seems when I talk or out loud. I become a stuttering and slow mess in class. Outside? Most interactions are at a more basic level and my biggest risk is the other person reaches for english too quickly.
Why don’t I spend time with my very nice French classmate during the break or after school? Well, the awful truth is that it is hard work saying much. We operate in linguistically isolated bubbles to some extent. Despite that, it has been good though to work with her. We are often paired and it works for me. The Italian ex-banker on my other side is less tolerant of my slowness. I understand the concepts but there is a brick wall between my knowledge and my word-using cerebral sections. Climbing that wall takes me time.
Last class with the shouter
The shouter had her last class on Thursday with the three of us who finish this week. Friday she gets the result of imaging tests done on her shoulder last week. Not sorry to finish with her but she was very interesting at times!
For example, the other day she spoke to us at length about bullfights. She doesn’t go or personally like them but she is very well informed and clearly appreciates the skills. She talked about two types of fights, the ones with experienced, licensed, bullfighters and 5 year old purposely bred bulls. The other type is the bull fighters ‘who won’t ever be bull fighters’ the less skilled ones who fight 3 year old bulls that are younger, lighter and less dangerous than their 600kg older siblings. There is also a form of bullfighting conducted by the other type of matador from the back of a horse. Apparently one woman has made it through the ranks in this form of bullfighting but otherwise women have little chance in the very masculine world of bullfighters. Even the statues project this. I particularly remember one outside the bull ring in Sevilla: a hero looking gorgeous, even as a statue, with his tight bullfighter ‘uniform’ and his balls very clearly ‘displayed’ in bronze.
The shouter spoke of the two types of capes they use, the initial heavy, two coloured one to get the bull going and, the much smaller red or fuchsia coloured moleta with a sword at one end. The fight itself has a set number of stages, all fighting bulls are killed with very very few exceptions, and the season in Spain lasts for about 6 months. This is followed by the season in Mexico and the caravan moves on!
Apparently you can’t leave the arena once a fight has started. No matter how much you hate it you just have to not look or learn to transcend the awfulness of an unfair fight and see the poetry in the style and the action. No, I’m not even willing to consider going. I watched a fight once on a TV, reflected intermittently in a mirror on the wall behind me during a group dinner in a bar. That was as close as I want to get.
Anyhow, what she was saying was very interesting. Then an American commented on how awful bullfighting is. And you guessed the response of the class: many asked about the application of the death sentences by a state. Hmm. Relativistic ethical positions are risky!
A very good thing about the classes I’ve been in so far, given the diversity of nationalities, is the way teachers take such careful steps taken around sensitive national issues such as the death penalty. Australia, thankfully, does not seem to have projected any sensitivities that my fellow students know about. Immigration? The focus here is totally local. What’s happening in Europe. No one here knew of the issues around Australia and Asia until the past few days with the Rohinghas.
Reminds me: it became clear that the shouter really enjoys teaching. She prefers teaching and the thought of weeks at home post surgery is not something she looks forwards to. Just a pity we had no opportunity to offer feedback to the school.
My favourite teachers in Don Quijote school this time: Montse in Granada and Edurne in Madrid.
I like going to the same cafe for breakfast when I find a good one. Here it’s a little one not far from school. The camarero is probably about 40 and, unhappy. The same customer comes in most days about 8.20am and my guy is always moaning to him. I assume about life and whatever and the tone of his voice is telling though I can’t hear (or understand) anything. He is quite obsequious, which works for me as a customer wanting the same toast and tomato and, coffee everyday. Not sure I’d like him very much if we were stuck together in a lift for 3 days.
Well, today, I was having my last look through our current text and asked him if my answers to a question were correct. Doesn’t look too hard for me as a foreigner, matching sentences presenting similar sentiments but in different tenses. He looked at it and demurred saying he had too little time. Interesting as if it was in english I could do it in seconds and didn’t think I was asking much of him. So, is the grammar harder than I thought, he is perhaps not highly literate or he is just too hassled to lose a minute. I wonder. Suspect the last but will never know.
Last day of class
I’ve been lucky with my class mates. Those in my class this week: 1 from each of the USA, Brazil, France, Italy, China and South Korea. And me from Aus. I don’t see any out of school but I like them, 3 women and 4 men.
All are interested, involved and committed. There are the usual differences: one who is chronically late, one who always answers or asks questions etc but all are good to work with. We often work in pairs, the person beside you or randomly established pairs or threes. This has been good. Stretching, often, for me.
One of my favourites is a really nice Chinese guy. He studied english in Auckland. So, he gets around. My best conversations this time have been with the American with our shared language. My overall favourite is the Dutch woman I was with for my first week of class in Granada. I was very sorry she was only there for a week as she was fun.
My best hope for the next week is that Jane and I come across a spaniard who wants to walk with us and who speaks zero english. I know. You can’t order this but it would improve my use of Spanish considerably !😊
When we get back to Madrid I have to collect my small bag, full of books and worksheets, from the school. While there I want to collect evidence of my devotion to learning Spanish to facilitate getting a visa! Otherwise, thanks to the Schenghen agreement I’ll run out of the time I can legally spend in Spain this year.
I know they have big problems here and I may get away with a longer time but… Not worth the risk. Not if it means being banned from Spain, or Europe, for a while. 😏
There is a school not far from the language school. So every day I walk with the kids and parents.
For most spaniards wheelies are central in their life. Clearly training starts early and this is a common scene: grandparent + child walking to school. In this case, grandad is pulling granddaughter’s wheelie and grandma is ahead with grandson.