Hal and the boys are teaching English at a nearby volunteer school. They go twice a week: once teaching adults, once teaching teens. The adults are easier just because they show up voluntarily. The teens have been coerced by either parents or school so are pretty disinterested in mastering English. All they really want to do is eat candy, drink soda, text message and flirt. The only English they care to learn are the bad words. Sounds like a bunch of gringo teens to me.
In the last adult class, Hal was teaching how to order a coke. He wrote it on the board and asked them to read it. Coke came out cock. Hal had to explain that cock is "lo mismo de pene pero más vulgar"… like saying penis only more vulgar. This got a huge laugh, of course. That Hal, he’s a funny guy. Too bad the teens missed it.
The real challenge is ordering shrimp. Any word that starts with the "shr" sound is flat out impossible for native Spanish speakers. "Sh" is hard enough. Add an "r" and it’s ridiculous. Apparently, tongues and lips and entire faces were screwed up to a fare-thee-well. Fortunately, shrimp is rarely on the menu. And how often do you say shrub, shrew and shrug?
Learning Spanish is hard. Just mastering the verb endings and the gender makes me nuts. Everything has a gender: tables, chairs, the sky, birds, fingers, nuts. Whenever I have to make up a sentence on the spot, I invariably get the gender wrong just because I’m trying too hard. I mean, there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll screw it up. Even when I’m talking about myself: "Yo soy rubio." I am blonde. Since I’m a woman, I would be rubia, ending with an a… Hal would be rubio (if he had any hair). But I can’t think that fast. I’m so thrilled to remember the word for blonde and the verb for I am (soy), by the time I get to sorting out gender, the sentence is out of my mouth and I’ve confirmed my gringo-hood beyond reasonable doubt.
But learning English… English is really hard. Spanish has few dipthongs. Vowels and consonants, as a rule, have one sound and one sound only. Other than words beginning with "h", there are almost no silent letters. If a letter is there, it has it’s own sound. If there are two vowels or two consonants together, they each have their own unique sound. Even the rules in Spanish are simple and relatively few.
But English. Explain how light and lite are pronounced the same. Explain cough. To a Spanish speaker, it’s pronounced co-ooog. Take them from co-ooog to cawf. The rules in English? Oy vey, where do you begin? After just a few weeks teaching English, learning Spanish seems like the easy way out. Next time you meet a native speaker of another tongue who is speaking any English at all, show some respect. They’ve earned it.
at the risk of getting banned and/or getting my post edited
cock= picha or verga
pain of learning English in/on/at are all different , Spanish ‘en’ works all the time, I still struggle with this one after bunches of years of speaking English and worse yet, living with an American, if you come into my house its actually hard to find stuff in Spanish 😐
also, I never know how to pronunce ANYTHING until I hear it BUT I will take that versus having to use tildes (accents on the words, those silly ‘ on top of the vowels)
The boys are always on the lookout for “bad” words in Spanish – thank you! Yeah, my hat’s off to you!!!
Looking for “bad” Spanish words? Googling “bad Spanish words” turned up some potentially “useful” sites, such as this one: http://www.alternative-dictionaries.net/dictionary/Mexican%20Spanish/1.html
Mexican Spanish cussing seems to be more popular.
I would agree that English is much harder to learn as a second language. From my limited exposure to Spanish, it seems to be much easier than English. I like how vowels are almost always pronounced the same way, making sounding out words much easier. I think there are fewer irregular verbs too. The gender of nouns is a pita – and will probably take me a lifetime to get all right – but it’s such a smaller detail than irregular verbs. And the different ways to pronounce vowels – like ‘zine vs nine. It must confuse the hell out of ESL students.
btw – I predict fluency for myself in Spanish in one year after moving 😛
one year, eh? I’ll take that bet…
Well, Chuck, you got me started down a very bad road… how about this page?
I had to stop reading, I was practically blushing…
Speaking Spanish with a southern accent, everything ends in “a”. Like galla mas galla, sure, no one knows what the hell I’m saying but I have fun watching them try to figure it out! When it’s serious, I do muster up the correct pronunciation, just not proper grammer. Pura Vida.
“Chocolate RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!” now I hear that song when it rains thanks to your post a year ago!
I can relate, as a native southerner living in the north I get teased all the time. My reply is that, I am ‘vowel challenged.’ I also love the fact that Spanish vowels have only one sound. I know a lot of palabras y verbos. I can usually decipher most of what I read in Spanish, but I have a hard time making myself be understood. Even though I know the correct sounds for the vowels I just add that southern twang!
I love to keep practicing and face to face I can usually get my point across. On the phone it is a nightmare. I’ll just have to keep visiting Spanish speaking countries.
I have great admiration for anyone who speaks English as a second language. Even Americans cannot speak properly. It is a HARD language. example: bough
rough – rouge
– and no fast rule governing pronounciation. Then there are the 5 sounds that each vowel may have – depending on location in the word and the surrounding consonants!!!
I do enjoy your blog and look forwward to your posting.
Thanks, Aunt Bebe! Yeah, I can hardly read those words when they are all put together like that!!! You know, in KY we tried to just stick with three and four letter words, one vowel at a time…