Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ir de vacaciones

In less than a week we fly to Cozumel, Mexico for our vacation. I've never been on a standard tropical-beach vacation before, but after the winter we've had it seems like a VERY good idea. It is fun to have "buy bikini" as part of the pre-trip checklist, because it reminds me how different the weather and the priorities are going to be down there. Having this to look forward to is helping my mood because it encourages me to brush away the little annoyances before they build up. Mental conversation example snippet: "This email I got highlights a problem with my design that I couldn't have anticipated. That's unfortunate, but I'm not going to let it get to me today because I'm going to Mexico next week."

I studied Spanish formally for four years, but never really felt like I "got" it. I'm not great at retaining memorized information, so when they would leave one verb tense to teach another, I'd forget the details of the first one. What works better for me is listening, reading, and absorbing from context. When used in addition to "book learning" grammar and vocabulary lessons, I do much better. My upcoming vacation prompted me to give Spanish another try.

Because of the demographics of the town we live in, I hear Spanish spoken frequently by the people around me in everyday situations. I can choose between several Spanish-language radio stations here as well. Plus, with the internet I can now get, for free, Spanish reading material from all over the world. So, even though my formal instruction is a set of Intermediate/Advanced CDs for the car and some review/practice books, I feel like I'm actually learning and progressing this time.

The last, biggest hurdle is getting over my hesitancy to actually use the small bit of language that I know. Cozumel is a tourist destination, so English is all we really need. Will I be able to get over my fear of saying something really stupid, or in the wrong tense, to a total stranger?

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