May 9, 2008

Learning the language via the immersion process

EMILIANO ZAPATA, Jalisco, Mexico - It was during lunch Friday that I realized I am living with the poster child for why immersion in a language works so well, when compared to classroom learning.

The Admiral and I were discussing our earlier horseback ride around Ranch Cuixmala (more on that in another blog when I can sit down for a longer period of time to write about it) and I realized that as I was chatting in Spanish, she could understand nearly every word I said.

And earlier in the day, she had asked a question in Spanish of our horseback riding guide using a full sentence, her first since we moved here in December.

Madre mia!

Sylvia at Emiliano Zapata taco stand
Admiral at taco shoppe in Emiliano Zapata

I started my study of Spanish in the mid-1980s when I was lucky enough to land a spot with a team of five faculty going to Spain on a Fulbright. We had to give our lectures there entirely in Spanish, even though one month prior to leaving, none of us spoke a word of Spanish.

The question and answer sessions were pretty hilarious.

Since then, I have studied Spanish on and off (OK, mostly off) trying to memorize phrases, verbs and vocabulary, but it has only been in the last five months that I have been comfortable speaking Spanish.

The Admiral on the other hand had no prior experience with Spanish but clearly has a ear for it already. Next winter and spring the majority of our time will be spent in Arroyo Seco where Spanish rules completely.

Given the speed at which she is learning, maybe the Admiral will be able to translate for me.

Fishing hole for Scott Noble
Fishing spot in la laguna

In our travels back from the horseback riding expedition we drove a back road past El Tecuan where a huge, mostly freshwater lagoon borders the sand dunes. The birds and wildlife back there were incredible and we found a half-dozen interesting fishing holes that I hope to show to Scott Noble when he makes his next foray south. Sadly, that probably won't be until Christmas next year.

The fish were so close to shore it seemed as if you could almost walk out and just grab them - which I was quite tempted to try.

Then I remembered what two French amigos from Arroyo Seco had mentioned to me a few weeks ago about that laguna: There are crocodiles in the water there. Max and Julian know it's true because they ran into a couple of crocs while they were doing some snorkeling.

I think I'll stick to rod-and-reel fishing for now.

Croc in La Manzanilla

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