Spanish lessons

I have been working through my second book in Spanish for over a month now. It’s been great for my pronunciation. Though I am only now beginning to become intelligible to others. The next big step for me is in listening comprehension. This challenge is two-fold. The speed (Mexicans, particularly those in the north, speak too fast), and Spanish syntax. The latter is a particular challenge for me.

English has a SVO syntax. That is, subjects always come before verbs, which always come before objects (with some rare exceptions). Spanish has an entirely different order, particularly when pronouns are introduced. Therefore, objects often make an appearance in a sentence before the subject and the verb. My brain is programmed for English. So it anticipates a subject first (which Spanish often has) and once a subject is found, it immediately anticipates a verb. So when the object appears before both of these, my brain stumbles.

This had a challenge for me initially with adjectives. They follow nouns here (except in rare cases). Then it was with negatives. They always come before the verb. It took me forever to wean myself off “Es no bueno”, rather than the correct, “No es bueno”.

But I do feel like I am coming along. I spent a considerable amount of time with people this week who did not speak English and I did not have Yun as my crutch. I managed pretty well I think. At least in light of how much I have struggled in the past.

So my Spanish lessons are incorporating a lot of listening comprehension these days. Particularly from the book I am reading. I have my instructor read my book and I interpret to her in English. This has been a good place to start as I have been extracting all the new vocabulary from this book and making lists (which we also review). This has been really helpful in nailing down the syntactic issues I’ve been struggling with for so long.

The audio clip above (or here if that doesn’t work) is from the book I am reading. Preserving it will hopefully encourage me later when I am able to improve my pronunciation as I’ll have it as a contrast.

The book is helpful in that it contains a seemingly unlimited use of auxiliary verbs. I had previously no experience in how to use these, but after a couple days, found they’re actually quite easy. The general auxiliary verb is haber (to have) in the present and in the past (have/had + past participle). It’s used all the time, and given that Hs are silent, it’s quite easy to confuse their use with another word.

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