Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Lovely Challenge

I am undertaking an awesome personal endeavor: reading my first Spanish novel! :) I am about 10 chapters (~60 pages) in, and the story is great! I had bought the book at a mall about a year ago, thinking that I would learn Spanish by looking up every word I didn't know (which was pretty much how I had learned English as a kid). But, very soon I realized that, as an adult, I am now much busier and have much less patience for looking up every single word in the dictionary. So, I struggled through about one chapter and gave up promptly. The book had since sat on my shelf, collecting dust.

Randomly, last weekend, on my way out to catch a flight to Austin for my friends' wedding, I grabbed the book since I didn't have any other handy reading material for the plane. I didn't bring a dictionary (it seemed like a hassle), so I tried to read the story using only context clues. Amazingly, it's now entirely do-able for me! Of course, there are still words I don't know, and still some verb tenses that I'm not familiar with, but as a whole, the novel is very enjoyable in all of its banter and irony even though I'm just reading it straight up without a dictionary. --HOW EXCITING!! (A year ago, I had started to write down the list of words I didn't know, that I was encountering in the first chapter of the book. Now looking back at that same list, those words seem really easy, so my Spanish has made a lot of progress! yay.)

Anyway, the book is really good so far; it's a translated American novel called La Loteria, and it's about a man who's mentally handicapped, who lived with his grandma until she passed away. After she passed away, the rest of the family swooped down to divy up her few worldly possessions, but didn't want to take care of him... until he wins the lottery. The really charming part about the book is that he would always state something as it appears, and then state it again in his own blunt understanding of the situation (without all the smoke and mirrors), which is extra cool for me as a language learner, because I get to see the same situation described with and without ill-intentioned euphemisms.

Yesterday, at school, we had a "Drop everything and read!" half-period to celebrate National Reading Day. I told some of my kids that I was slowly reading a Spanish book, and I think they were genuinely impressed! I too often forget that we're supposed to model for our kids that we, too, spend time learning things that are not easy for us. What is it that you do to model that mentality for your kids?

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