Sunday, August 9, 2009

Guanajuato, Mexico - GUEST BLOGGER

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Why Would I Want to Learn Spanish?

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Posted by Linda Watson Lauer on July 2, 2009 at 4:31pm

Reading George Puckett's blog re "How"s Your Spanish, led me to ask another question. Why would I even WANT to learn Spanish?

Now that is the question I really want to answer. Consider how we in Canada and the US feel when "foreigners" make no effort to adapt. Communication is what brings people together. Try to speak Spanish to a local and notice the friendliness in their eyes. Although my sentences may not be grammatically correct, my Mexican friends get an idea of what I am saying and are thrilled that I am willing to try. It shows my honest desire to be part of their culture. Speaking even a little Spanish creates an open door to the hearts of my new neighbors. Even they are proud of me.

Spanish is a beautiful language. I love listening to the young women as they have so much feeling in their spoken words. There are certain phrases and inflections that I long to copy for I recognize these as being characteristic of Spanish speaking people. Someday I will know how to use the word "mira" just as they do.

Of course I will make mistakes as I learn. I learned my Spanish on the street as I searched for a house. I spoke to every Mexican person I came across as I walked up and down the dusty roads. They welcomed me as I struggled with "Lo se una casa por renta o vende." It was my way of asking do you know of a house for rent or sale. The question led to meeting uncles, cousins, whole families as they all worked to help me find my little house. A single phone call would bring someone to pick us up and take us to look at a tiny casa in the Mexican area of Bucerias, or down the arroyo, or out near the jungle. No one spoke English, but they safely transported me to their home for sale, showed me around and deposited me back where I had come from. What amazing experiences I enjoyed while on that search. Even my poor Spanish was welcomed by these good people.

Today I use my Spanish a little as I teach the children English at the Bucerias Bilingual Community Centre. This year I also took a wonderful Spanish course there and it appears that its a good thing I did. To my chagrin, I learned two important new words... or more importantly, two "proper" words. I learned that calor and caliente did not mean the same things and that I had in fact been walking around telling people I was "hot" in a not very nice way. I wouldn't have wanted other people using that word about me and here I thought I was merely commenting on the weather. Apparently I wasn't! Only a certain "kind of woman" is that kind of hot!

And my second mistake... after two years I finally learned that crayons were colors and not "couleres" as I had been saying to my preschoolers. Fortnately none of them noticed that teacher was saying to use their a#@ho#@ instead of their crayons. Was my face red!

So yes, I'll make mistakes, but in the long run I will learn. I will have had the joy of challenging my brain and learning a new language; communicating with my neighbors and earning their respect; and finally, knowing that I am not a tourist who just stepped into Mexico for a short time. I'm a community member who will do whatever she can to be part of this wonderful Mexican culture.



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