12 February 2010

Catch Phrase and Carnaval

Learning Spanish is one huge game of Catch Phrase; it's all about circumlocution. If you don't know the word for something, you have to describe it, and this is done with varying degrees of difficulty. This game-like nature of learning is why I love the language exchange we have here on Thursday nights. I get to talk to Spanish people who describe things to me in English when they don't know the word, and then they return the favor and assist me in my descriptions and identification in Spanish. The great thing is this keeps the conversation going because it's like chasing one rabbit after another. It's the same in my classes when someone doesn't understand a concept. Either the teacher will explain it or ask one of us to do so, but every description is a test of vocabulary. When I come home I expect to be the Catch Phrase queen, so be prepared to lose if you aren't on my team.

And on the topic of language exchange, I will soon begin making money to speak English, one of my favorite things to do. I will be working two days a week with a 12-year-old girl, simply speaking English. I met her and her mother yesterday, and in the 30 minutes I spent getting to know the family I could tell it's going to be fun. On top of that, I'm waiting for an email from a lady who wants someone to speak in English with her 3 or 4 year old. It will basically be playing with the little girl and only speaking English. The prospect of income and getting to know kids who actually live here in Santiago and are growing up in this city and school system that are so foreign (literally) to me is exciting.

As for foreign things, I will soon experience my very first Carnaval, the festival leading up to Lent. Since Wednesday night I've seen a few people dressed up here in Santiago, but tomorrow we're planning to go to Ourense where the festival is a little more elaborate. We don't have classes Monday or Tuesday, so I will be trying to participate fully since this isn't something we have in Tennessee and is very different from Mardi Gras. Everyone dresses up, people throw flour (I'm still not clear on why), and there are parades, along with many other things I'm looking forward to experiencing. But more on this once I figure out exactly what Carnaval entails here.

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