Just the boost we needed…

After Christmas, we changed our routine up a bit in order to give our language-learning a boost.  For the first few months, we commuted about an hour in order to attend a spanish school for several hours each morning.  Things were going pretty well, but as we started figuring out which things helped us learn the language best, we decided to switch things up in order to make the most of our year of intensive language study.

So in the middle of January, we started with a new professor who kicked things up a notch.  She has 25 years experience teaching both spanish and english, so she knows her stuff.  She also has alot of experience teaching missionaries, so she is able to teach us some language and vocabulary helpful to our ministry.  But most of all, she’s TOUGH.   And she assigns ALOT of homework.   But she’s good at her job, and it’s worth it.

Clara, our professor
Clara, our professor

With the new professor, our schedule changed a bit.  Now our class is immediately after lunch (during naptime), so our mornings are free to study.  Spending several hours studying on my own before I walk into class has made a world of difference!  Plus, now that I’m not running out the door quite so early in the mornings, I have a good bit of time to sit and talk (and drink coffee) with the niñera, Hilda.  She has become an amazing language partner for me, and I think that has boosted my spanish as much as the new professor has.  Most days we spend almost an hour chatting in spanish over our coffee — it’s the best practice I could possibly get!

Then she takes the kids to the park for a few hours, and I crack the books while the house is quiet until lunch.  We all eat lunch together (more spanish practice with Hilda!) and spend some time rough-housing with the boys, then Hilda puts them down for their nap while we start our class at 1:30.

Our class lasts 2 hours and is pretty intense.  The entire thing is in Spanish, including any questions we ask.  Each night for homework I read a chapter of the book I’m working on (Cautiva by Clara Rojas) and write a summary of the chapter.  I also have to write an entry in the spanish journal I am keeping.  Most evenings, we have some other type of writing assignment as well (a few paragraphs on a specific topic), and some practice worksheets on whatever grammatical theme we’re studying at the time.   Then the next day, I have to read aloud whatever I’ve written and give an oral summary of the book I’m reading, and answer questions on any and all of it.  Plus she pulls out her red pen and marks up all of my mistakes.  Usually there’s quite a bit of red ink (:    Nate’s homework looks a little different from mine since we have found that our learning styles are a bit different.  He usually has some reading/writing assignments based on a systematic theology book in spanish that he’s reading, as well as some translation work in the book of Acts.

A little taste of my spanish homework:  my spanish journal, practice worksheets, and the first page of the chapter I'm reading for night in my book.
A little taste of my spanish homework: my spanish journal (lots of red markups!!), practice worksheets, and the first page of the chapter I’m reading for night in my book.
nate spanish hw
A little sample of Nate’s homework: theology book in spanish, the book of Acts, and his translation notebook.

The boys usually sleep for another half our or so after we finish class, so we have a few minutes of down time before they wake up.  Of course, after a morning of chatting in spanish with Hilda, studying for a few hours, then having 2 hours of class, we are TIRED by 4pm!  We usually take an hour or two to play with the kids before dinner just to give our minds a break.  After the kids go to bed, we usually do a little more work (on homework, missions stuff, adoption stuff, or other various things), spend some time reading, and occasionally pull up something on Netflix if we have time before we crash.   And that’s a day!

The new schedule gives us a bit more flexibility if we need it in the mornings, although we usually spend the time studying.  Plus, it gives us more time with the kids since we’re not away from the house as much.  It will also be a little more workable when the adoption goes through, which is a huge answer to prayer.

So far, the change has proven to be a good decision.  I’m a little more exhausted at the end of each day, but as Hilda always reminds me, “Vale la pena!”

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