When you are learning something new, you go through a few phases before reaching your goal of mastering whatever you set out to master. You start out knowing nothing, then you know a little bit…and then you reach that dangerous phase where you know just enough to allow you to feel arrogant that you have made a lot of improvement. The arrogant phase is followed by the fall-flat-on-your-face phase where your conception of what you are learning improves and you become aware of how little you actually know.
After living in Santiago for a month, I am in the fall-flat-on-your-face phase with learning Spanish. I know enough Spanish words to get super confused and to know that there are still many, many words that I have yet to learn.
The reason I am confused, is because whoever invented Spanish, must have been a sadist; the type of person who would ask you a riddle without giving you the answer, just to see you suffer! Allow me to better explain my frustration:
‘este’ means east, ‘éste’ means this one, ‘esta’ means this
‘ciudad’ (pronounced with an ‘s’ sound) means city, ‘cuidado’ (pronounced with a ‘k’ sound) means danger
‘pero’ means but, ‘perro’ means dog, ‘pera’ means pear, ‘para’ means to or for
And most ridiculously: guess what number is ‘mil’….no, it’s not a million, it’s a thousand!
Surprisingly, I found that attending a pilates class is a great way to refresh Spanish words in my mind: every movement is repeated six times, so there’s counting, the words for body parts (such as arm, leg, head) are repeated throughout the class, the words left and right are part of every instruction…It seems that I will give exercise to my brain and body if I carry on with the pilates classes!