Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Learning Spanish with Professor Ester Tejeda

I met Ester Tejeda through a mutual acquaintance years ago.  She came to Canada from Chile and has taught Spanish at Simon Fraser University.  I've muddled along with learning Spanish for years.  When I talked to Ester about learning Spanish she suggested I take her course at SFU.  I told her that I'd not be able to travel to Burnaby during the week but that if she ever taught at the Harbour Centre SFU downtown I'd be sure to take her up on it. At that time she arranged for a fellow lecturer to tutor me, a 10 hour tune up over the next few weeks  before I next travelled to Mexico.
Now I'm taking Ester's class. It's a whole lot of fun to be with other students studying a language. Spanish is the second most spoken language around the world and a delight to learn. I'm not good at learning languages, mind you.  My nephew Andrew has this gift but I seemed better skilled at chemistry and literature.  There's something about 'pronunciation' and 'generating' the ideas of words that stymies me.  I actually understand much of what I read in Spanish. Partly this is because I studied French as a grade school student, took a year of latin and there really is much overlap between these 'romance' languages.
As for Spanish I first fell in love with the language when I visitted Spain in the early 70's. Later it was time spent in Mexico.  Then my psychologist friend, Marion, from Vancouver Island was fluent in Spanish and forever having Spanish friends and Spanish musicians around her. She always encouraged me to learn Spanish and now I have Ester doing the same.
Yet the class has Chinese, Korean, Polish, English, French students and they're all so enthusiastic and keen.  Of course, I am the oldest in the class. I'm not so prone to 'giggling' as some of the other students.
What makes Spanish such an enjoyable language is how happy the Spanish people are with your trying to speak in their native tongue. I've been one of those tourists who pick  up phrase books in whatever country I am travelling in. More often than not I cause the locals great confusion, even exasperation.   I even  had one Parisian tell me to stop speaking French as my accent was hurting his ears.  In contrast to this,  French speaking people living in rural Quebec  were as happy to have me try to speak French by adding english words as they were to speak to me in English with their own occasional French words.
The Spanish speakers however have always been just delighted to have me  'try' to speak their language. That's what Ester does, too.  There's no 'judgement' ,just a whole lot of support and humor.

I've been to Mexico now several times, having flown to Cancun first in the 80's , then sailed to Baja California in the 90's where I lived in my sailboat for months in the Sea of Cortez.  I also visited the west coast of Mainland Mexico and a few years back had a truly splendid time in Mexico City and on the Caribean Coast.  On one trip for a week to Cancun I took spanish lessons in the morning and scuba lessons in the afternoon.  The spanish class made that trip so enjoyable.
Now thanks to Ester I'm planning a fall or winter vacation in Mexico again, probably coupling it with morning spanish classes, some scuba diving and a whole lot of beach time.  Donde es la playa, por favour?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like that comment that your hurting his ears

that is what my music teacher said about by trumpet