Monday, May 23, 2011

Not-so-relaxing summer

So far, my summer has actually been kind of stressful. I started a two-week intensive Spanish course on last Monday. I'm really enjoying it, but it's 3 hours per day and that, combined with my 10 hours of tutoring per week (and the 10 different lesson plans required), my GA, and a new baby-sitting job have left me with much less free time than I anticipated. After this week, things should slow down quite a bit, though. And Darby and I are looking forward to a mini-vacation to Madison, WI over the holiday weekend.

Even though it's causing me a little stress, I'm so glad I decided to take this Spanish class. It's very focused on conversation, and that's what I desperately need to practice. It's sad to realize how much of my vocabulary I've lost through lack of use. I'm definitely motivated to practice more on my own. I'm also realizing that all of my ESL courses have really changed the way I look at learning languages. Before, I kind of thought of learning Spanish as a finite goal. One day, I would wake up and say, "I know Spanish." But now I view it much more as a continuum. I'll always be learning Spanish. In some ways that is daunting, but it's also very freeing. Before, I had somewhat unrealistic expectations about what I could achieve in Spanish. But now that I've worked with students who have been learning English as a second language for many, many years, I see that perfection is unrealistic. My goal should be to communicate effectively. I'll always make mistakes, but that shouldn't stop me from speaking with native Spanish speakers. And I have so much more empathy for the international students I work with now. After three hours of listening and speaking solely in Spanish, my brain is fried. Next, I want to take some courses in a language from a completely different language family (e.g., Korean, Mandarin, or Arabic). I think that will help me identify even more with my students.

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