Another Day in the Country
The learning curve
© Another Day in the Country
One of this summer’s new adventures is learning Spanish by way of a fancy app called Duolingo.
My grandson has been using this app for years, learning Korean words and then venturing into Spanish last year — I think because he also was taking Spanish in high school. So, I’m doing it, too.
When I get stuck on pretty elementary stuff, it’s nice to have someone to ask for help. Being a bit of a greenhorn around applications in general, I found myself way over my head when asked by the app to take a test during my regular lesson.
“How am I supposed to know this?” I said to the computer screen. “This is way above my pay grade!”
“Help!” I called out to my grandson.
Of course, he came running, looked at the screen and said, “How did you get here? You aren’t supposed to be here. You haven’t even finished the introductory classes, yet.”
I’d punched some button that I wasn’t supposed to be fiddling with and literally got ahead of myself.
The application tries to get its students to be consistent in their practice with a new language. I’ve had trouble with that concept. I make excuses: “I just go back.” “I’m resting up after all the trouble we had getting from California to Kansas, missing a flight. It’s exhausting.” “I’m busy feeding and entertaining a teenager.”
The app pays no attention and just keeps encouraging me.
“You have a two-day run!” it says. “Good for you!”
What thrills me most when learning a new language is when the word in the new language sounds like the word in my mother tongue. I’m in the food section of the lessons and felt pretty smug that I already knew “agua” and “queso.”
Connecting them up in a sentence is something else. I was thrilled to discover that “sandwich” in English (inglase) is still sándwich in Spanish, and the only addition is an accent over the “a,” which immediately makes the word sound different.
Hearing my practicing, my sister said, “I’m glad English is my mother tongue. Can you imagine what it would be like to learn English as a second language? Worse than learning Spanish.”
You know how children can get a word wrong when they are learning to speak. My friend’s little boy (who is now a doctor) used to say “hopsil” (hospital) and “ambliance” (ambulance) when he was little. I think he’s also the one who said “samich” describing two slices of bread with something in the middle.
We made our own “samiches” for supper last night. It just might have been the first time my grandson actually put one together on his own. His mother is pretty efficient. She knows what her son likes, so she always just does it and hands it to him.
”What do you want on it?” I asked.
He opted for smoked gouda, ham, lettuce, tomato, pepperoncini, mustard, and mayo.
When he was done with his assemblage, my sister asked, “Do you want your sandwich cut in half?”
“Is that necessary?” Dagfinnr wanted to know.
“No, it’s a preference,” my sister said as we moved over and sat at the table, each of us tackling our own creative culinary delight between two slices of bread.
It was quiet for a minute as we savored our food.
“Have you ever noticed how when you bite into a sandwich, all the contents inside run off in the opposite direction and you are left with just bread in your mouth and maybe a little lettuce?” Dagfinnr said.
Jess and I both looked at this tall lanky kid sitting across from us.
“I try all kinds of techniques like biting on one side and then turning the sandwich around and approaching it from the opposite side,” he said in all seriousness, as if he were approaching a math problem, “but the stuff inside is always trying to escape. Am I missing something?”
We were trying not to laugh, but watching his long fingers trying to encase a slippery “samich” without letting anything get away was sort of funny, and then his serious approach was making it even more humorous.
“Maybe cutting it in two helps,” Jess said, “half as much territory to control.”
And that’s the news from Ramona, where we had the best fireworks ever and my neighbor is checking to see if the Jiraks have corn on another day in the country. If they do, we won’t be having “samiches” tonight!