Finally Starting Spanish Lessons
After being here a little over a month, I took the plunge on Monday and went down to IBL to register for Spanish classes. I made the mistake of walking in and speaking in English when I arrived -- a habit I developed at my office. If I know someone speaks English I just start talking to them in English and not in Spanish.
Well, they pegged me as a beginner and handed me a placement test. Thirty minutes later I had finished the test and turned it in. It was the "level 1" test and so I scored a perfect score. Seeing that, they gave me the test for level 2. This time I had 2 or 3 errors. They apologized again and brought in the test for level 3. This time I managed to get only about 50-60% of the answers right -- putting me level 3 territory.
After they started going over my incorrect answers on the level 3 test, the teacher stopped herself and said, "Wait a minute, you are taking a level 3 test, we should be talking in Spanish." Well, the moral of this story is -- when you go in to a language school, try to speak as much of the language as you know -- otherwise you'll be spending an hour and a half taking language tests.
After being here a month, I've been amazed at just how little Spanish I've actually been forced to use -- much less than the average tourist or immigrant. Here in Argentina they have English-language TV, an English newspaper, and English menus in restaurants. In addition to that, I work with English-speaking coworkers who are focused all day on selling services to English-speaking customers. It just so happens that all my friends here speak English as well. When I go see a movie this weekend, that'll be in English too.
So, here come the Spanish lessons. It looks like I'm going to need to make a concerted effort to actually learn Spanish while I'm here. It's not just going to arrive in my brain through osmosis. Darn, and I thought it was going to be so easy!