Thursday, July 22, 2010

A random analogy for language learning

Pretty much since the beginning of this journey of learning Spanish, I've been thinking about an analogy to help describe the language learning process.  A few Star Wars characters stand out to me as emblematic of certain levels of language fluency.  WARNING:  this may prove completely senseless for some people but may turn out somewhat coherent (or at least mildly entertaining) for others.

CHEWBACCA:  The furry Wookiee who speaks a completely unintelligible language for us humans to understand.  When we first arrived to Spain, this is pretty much how people sounded to me.  I simply could not make much sense of what they wanted to tell me, and I couldn't express what I wanted to to them.  It was like trying to have a conversation with a Wookiee:  'GrrrrrHughhhghgWaawwaawwwwww...':  huh?

HAN SOLO:  He's the daring intergalactic companion of Chewie who is one of the few humans who can actually understand the giant fur ball.  I'm not sure if he really speaks the Wookiee language, but it's clear that he understands enough to be able to translate for Chewie.  After about 6 months of living here in Spain, I was beginning to get to this 'Han Solo' stage, understanding a good deal of what my neighbors were trying to tell me and being able to respond in simple and broken ways to them, even being able to translate a bit, as long as the Spanish speaker wasn't going too fast.

YODA:  Yeah, he's the little green guy who is the Grand Jedi Master who trains Luke Skywalker.  But for our purposes here, his language abilities in English are quite adequate although he often messes up the word order and expresses things in awkward and funny ways.  At McDonald's, instead of saying, 'I'd like to have a Big Mac with fries,' he'll say, 'Mmmm, a Big Mac and fries I would like to eat, mmmm....'  I'm guessing that that's what I sound like many days when I'm speaking Spanish:  pretty much intelligible, but awkward and a bit funny to listen to.

The good news is that the longer I'm here, the more I live among and interact with people, and the more I focus on perfecting the language, the more progress I see, especially when I look back to the days just after our arrival.  There are still days of frustration (even after 10 or 11 months of language school and even longer of just living here), even days when people sound like Chewie to me, but those days are fewer and farther between.  So if you think of it, pray that God will help me to continue learning well, to be patient with myself and to pay attention to the way Spaniards express themselves.  The Lord has been faithful and is equipping me to be able to share His good news relevantly with people He loves.

Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup Champions!

In case you missed it, on Sunday Spain won the World Cup Championship for the first time ever.  Above you can enjoy the winning goal by Andrés Iniesta towards the end of the overtime's in Spanish (albeit with a Mexican accent), but that will give you a better feel for what it was like to watch it here.  To see the goal on Spanish TV, click HERE.

Today the champions return to Madrid to formally initiate the grand celebration, though it's been going strong since about 11:30 last night when we passed a group of young guys running around in their tighty-whities yelling 'Soy español!' or 'I am Spanish!'.  So today is a big day not only for fútbol fans in Spain but also for all Spaniards:  nothing brings out the Spanish flags and makes nationalism run high like World Cup soccer (Americans, think 4th of July meets the weeks following 9/11).

No super deep spiritual reflection to give here, and though I could go on about the idolatry of soccer and its stars, I won't.  Suffice it to ask you to pray that Spaniards come to prize Jesus as highly as they do their national sport.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Miriam Joy!

It's been a few weeks since we've posted anything here because, well, we've been a little busy with having a baby and getting used to being sleep-deprived parents.  So here is a little slideshow of photos to catch you up on our new little addition to the family, Miriam Joy, born on June 17th (two weeks ago today).  Enjoy!