As I mentioned in the previous post, I got a lead from the husband of the hair stylist I visited (see the Haircut --> Spanish Lessons post) for an expat who teaches Spanish classes at his house – for free. The teacher’s name is Steve and I contacted him to let him know we’d like to attend.
The only drawback to the Spanish lessons is that Steve and his wife, Joanne, live in a different part of town (a different “barrio”) and it’s probably a mile and a half or so from our apartment. However, that didn’t deter us.
We had a map to Steve’s house but we weren’t sure how long it would take to walk there. We gave ourselves a half hour, which turned out to not quite be enough. We were hoofin’ it, trying to make it on time. Between the hills and the hot Costa Rican sun, we were pretty much a sweaty mess when we got there. Nonetheless, we joined the 8-9 other people that were already there and felt right at home.
We didn't know ahead of time but it turns out Steve and Joanne (aka Estaban and Juanita) attend the church we found, as do many of the other students in the class.
Steve is a retired medical doctor and knows his way around the Spanish language very well. We are working through verb conjugations and things like that – more “technical” than the basic Spanish we’re initially learning from our software program (although the program progresses through advanced Spanish).
The class is for 2 hours every Thursday morning. Not only do we get to learn more Spanish, we also get a pretty good workout, since the walk is about 40 minutes. Usually, we can get a ride back into town (about halfway home) from someone in the class that is headed back that way. We typically have them drop us at the "Coop" ("co' op", for cooperative, not like a chicken coop), which is our favorite grocery store. We pick up groceries and head home, completing the trifecta: exercise, Spanish lessons, and grocery shopping.
One of the fun and more unusual parts of the Spanish class is a Spanish language drama (semi soap opera) we watch the last 30-40 minutes of class. The series is divided into many episodes (I think there are 20 or more) and it's designed to help people learn Spanish. The story line follows a female attorney who is hired by a wealthy old man in Mexico to try to find his long-lost love. You see, they were separated during the war and he was never able to find her afterward. The trail of clues leads the attorney on a hunt through a number of countries: Mexico, Spain, Argentina, etc. This gives the viewer an opportunity to hear different dialects and styles of Spanish. Parts of the episodes have subtitles but they are in Spanish as well. It lets you see what the actors are saying, to associate the words and pronunciation. The show will stop every now and then to ask questions, so see if you picked up on different events ("Whom did the sailor say might know where the son lives?"). The series helps you start to understand conversational Spanish by using context and picking up on key words or phrases. It also helps to expand vocabulary (The fish market owner tells the attorney he has shrimp, and tuna, and mussels, and cod, and sea bass, and lobster, and salmon, and clams - but has never seen the man in the photograph. You get the idea...). There's also a love story that is beginning to emerge... It's a fun and interesting way to begin to develop an "ear" for conversational Spanish.
Posted by Mark