Last night was the second Spanish class. I had gotten the impression that the class was only half an hour long, but apparently it goes on for an hour. I only get half an hour of it because I have to go to choir practice. So maybe I am missing the best part. While I was there, the teacher chattered about herself in English most of the time. I do not expect to learn much Spanish. I did, however, learn the difference between “soy” and “estoy,” which I had not previously known.
I knew “soy” because a couple of young men from Mexico once taught me to say “No soy insecto” and “No soy quadrupedo.” They also taught me to dance the ranchero, which was vastly more useful information.
In the new Spanish class I am taking, I have learned to say “Soy —” my name, which seems pretty useless. I already knew “Me llama —” my name, which I think is how people actually introduce themselves. I have also learned to say “Tengo dos perros,” or “I have two dogs.” I guess once I develop some vocabulary, I will be able to announce that I am or am not or have or have not various things. And I can still recite the alphabet from last week.
This is not how I like to teach a language. I taught English as a Second Language for many years. I like to begin with lots of vocabulary and then move directly to practical patterns like greetings, offers and requests, stuff like that. I show the students how to plug the new words into the sentence patterns and let them talk a lot. They can all practice in pairs at the same time while I move among them and help those who need help. Our Spanish teacher presents a sentence, has us all repeat it — “Tengo una uva” — and then rattles on in English for ten minutes before getting to the next bit of Spanish.
Ah, well. I am hoping that I will get to know the people in the class a bit. Tonight I have Chamber Singers, which is not at all a social opportunity for me: it is all about the music. In fact, by Thursday evening (since we are getting up at 4:00 a.m. and I am out on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights) I am tired and don’t want to go at all. I force myself, though, and I enjoy it once I get there.
I am enjoying The Know-It-All, as well. I have learned a few things from it, though not very many. For example, I had not previously heard of Farinelli, a castrato who apparently spent the last years of his life singing the same four songs to King Phillip every night. The same four songs. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? However, The Know-It-All is extremely short on plot. There is a bit of a thread there about the author’s infertility, which may turn out to be the plot. If he and his wife are expecting a baby by the time he gets to “zygote,” then that will perhaps turn out to have been the plot of the book. However, a book which causes its readers to wonder whether there might eventually turn out to have been a plot can fairly be said not to have much of one.
It would make a really good blog.
So I am beginning to read my Book Club book for the month. I had tried to persuade the ladies to read The Time Traveler’s Wife. That is the book for Knitting the Classics (not sure why they are calling it a classic) and I already had it ordered. But there were not many copies in the library, so we are reading The Little Friend. A child dies horribly in this book. For me, this is a reason not to read it. In fact, I would like to see the publishing industry develop a special rating system which would have a warning on all books that involve violence to children, and then I would just not read them.
Of course, I will read my Book Club book. I am the Slave of Duty. But The Know-It-All will provide respite from The Little Friend, just as it will provide respite from the excessive lightness of The Know-It-All. I have it all planned.