Continued from Part I. Since I’ve given a long-winded answer to the first question, let’s make the rest short and sweet.
2. Is it easy? Is it fun?
The answer is yes for both. When something is easy it is always fun to do. The fun bit makes it even easier.
As I said in my previous entry, in Spanish what you read is what you say i.e. "ba" is always pronounced "bah", not "bei" or "bur". It's somewhat similar to Malay.
Verb conjugation can be quite tough at first. Like English, Spanish has many tenses - present, past, future, perfect, conditional, subjunctive etc. But not to worry, there's always a pattern in every tense which makes them easier to remember.
The fun part is also from getting a glimpse of Spanish life. In every lesson there's a theme i.e. going to the cinema, shopping, dining. I learn not only how to strike a conversation in those situations but also the unique things about them in Spain. Do you know that when you buy shoes in Spain, you don't ask if they have the shoes in your "size", but your "number"?
3. Where do you go to class? How long? How much?
My class is at Instituto Cervantes de Kuala Lumpur. It resides in Help University College at Jalan Dungun. There are many levels to the course (A, B, C etc.); from what I have experienced the first level (A1) took 10 weeks for RM650. Now I'm doing level A2 for another 10 weeks for another RM650. You need to go through A3 and A4 before proceeding to level B; hence it's a long way to go. In the end if you finish all levels you can sit for an exam for a diploma in learning Spanish as a foreign language. I can't remember exactly how many levels a student has to go through to reach that stage, but I'm pretty sure it's up to D or E, definitely not till Z ;-)
If you are interested, call the centre and ask for Señora Susana Martinez Vellon. Or speak to Gladys who handles the admin stuff. The number is +603-20947835 ext 5207. Hey maybe I should ask Susana for commission for promoting this ;-)
4. Are the teachers good?
My professor's name is Señor Gonzalo Broto. He's from Zaragoza, in the north of Spain. He's a wonderful teacher. He was my teacher for level A1 and now he's teaching level A2. I might be biased as I've only learned from him so far, but for what it's worth his teaching method is very effective. I started from almost zero knowledge in Spanish to scoring 92% for my A1 exam. Some of my classmates say he speaks too fast, but I think it's a good thing coz it makes me pay full attention every time he opens his mouth coz I don't want to miss any word that might be important to what he has to say.
I don't know how many teachers they have in total but so far I've seen another teacher called David (he teaches another class during the same time slot as my class) and of course Susana the headmistress. My classmate Perrin told me she did ask the office whether the teachers are qualified and the answer is a resounding yes. These teachers are actually university professors, they come Malaysia under some kind of program by Spanish government to promote Spanish language and culture abroad. So I guess with such excellent teachers if you don't do well you only have yourself to blame!
5. Is the certificate recognized?
Of course it is, I won't be studying there if it isn't. The institute was established under the Spanish government. Just Google "Instituto Cervantes" you'll find a lot of info on it.
6. Is it even useful?
The usefulness of a language is up to the person. For me knowing another language be it Spanish or others is highly useful coz it opens up doors to greater knowledge. When you understand the language, it's easier to understand the culture. When you understand the culture, you will be able to relate to their daily lives and learn why they do certain things in a certain way.
From a more practical angle, knowing an extra language will definitely help when travelling, finding a job, getting a business deal etc., everyone knows that. Perhaps some languages are more useful than the others, so if you learn to speak Swahili don't expect an advantage when you go to Czechoslovakia or Tibet or Papua New Guinea for that matter.
Learn a language that you have interest in and of use to you. Though I don't watch telenovelas anymore, I still find Spanish useful. I can read the Spanish version of FC Barcelona website which is far more interesting than the English one. I can better understand the words to Shakira's songs. I can read Hola Magazine in addition to Hello Magazine. Work wise, I can apply for a transfer to MAS office in Buenos Aires and proudly say that I have the advantage of being able to communicate in the local language (though I still have a long way to go before I can make that claim but hey, I'm getting there!). Needless to say being proficient in another language will definitely look good on my CV.
7. Are you planning to go to Spain?
Yes, a vacation in Spain is definitely in mind. It would be interesting to see how I fair among Spaniards who only speak Spanish and nothing else. Will they be able to understand me for whatever little Spanish I know?
If you are talking about going for a longer term i.e. work or study or even migrate, the answer is I don't know. Not until and unless I've been there will I know if it's the right place for a long term stay. For now, I'm content with the idea of going to Spain for a holiday.
8. Are you trying to get Latin men?
Does everything have to be about men? Do you learn English in school so that you can date an American or an Englishman? By now you should already get a good idea of why I learn Spanish. If anything extra comes out of it, I'll take it as a bonus!
So there you go, several simple facts about me learning Spanish. Starting to learn a new language in your adulthood can be nerve wrecking, trust me I know how it feels. If you still have any burning question that you wish to ask or thoughts you want to share, just drop a comment, I'll try to reply to it the soonest I can. ¡Adios! @ Bye!