Towards the end of the lesson, as Cynthia was conversing with our teacher Anna in Spanish on the topic of countries and nationalities in a convincing fluency, I was looking at the world map so nicely drawn on my Spanish book and couldn’t help but to imagine a game of RISK with my dwindling troops scattered at four corners of the world. Soon, in this lost battle of I against me, all I heard was a foreign language that I was clueless about. As though I was warped into another planet, lost in another reality.
But wait, weren’t Cynthia and I at the same class with supposedly the same progress?
OK. It was not all hard work. I like the part about Spanish culture that Anna took some time and shared with us some of the basic demography of España: the ancient Celtric tribes that settled at the north (Galicia), the capital city Barcelona of an autonomous community (Galicia) that borders with France, and the south of Spain (Andalusia) that is just a good swim away from Morocco. Anna asked us what else we wished to know besides the different peoples in Spain, the Flamenco dance (that is well known as a Spanish dance but in fact only popular in Andalusia at the south), and the 9am to 1pm / 4pm to 8pm working hours (siesta in between), my immediate response was: food.
That got everybody in the classroom feeling hungry, including Anna. Not my fault! It was an innocent question!
The hard part was learning the list of countries, nationalities, and the masculino and femenio forms for the males and females. For example, Spain is España, a Spanish man is Español, and a Spanish woman is Española. In plural form, we have Españols and Españolas. The rules that change the nationalities into the two forms are not that hard; the way a nationality is spelled out is. Some countries are totally unrecognizable. Who would have thought that the words America and American are Estados Unidos and Estadounidense in Spanish? I personally wish that the lesson stresses more on the pronunciation of these Spanish words rather than the rigorous exercise of pen-and-paper.
I guess it will take me a long while to memorize and speak what I’ve learned this lesson. No wonder I spaced out towards the end. How Cynthia managed to memorize on the spot and speak is totally beyond me. Perhaps her brain is wired in a different way.