My journey into learning a fourth language after Dutch, English and German started in ernest yesterday at the James Boswell Institute. Two hours I spent getting to grips with my class mates and a teacher from Colombia. I did not count but I estimate that we were, and so will be for the next ten weeks, a group of fifteen students of which I am the only one over twenty five and not a student. But I felt the equal of my fellow Spanish enthusiasts in state of mind and it was all very jolly.
Our Colombian teacher ms. Jiminez started speaking in Spanish and it was up to us to understand what she was saying. None of us understood everything but we got the jist. But then we had to participate and from then on much more use of English crept into the explanations. It was all still fun though and we had a great time giving fashion advice to a fictional character from our course book: For example. “What do you think Maria should wear to an office reunion?” “I think she has to wear a red dress and black shoes or maybe that blue jacket…” And so forth.
The jocular mood even promted me, at the end of the lessson, to try a joke of my own! In my head I already had the class roaring with laughter and I imagined that as I left the classroom I would be high-fiving people that I had only met two hours before. On the page we had open in front of us there were several pictures of different styles of hats. A police cap, a fedora, a rastafari type beanie, a flat cap…and a set of Micket Mouse ears. Now, the Mickey Mouse ears looked so out of place, and so rediculous that I thought: “What are those doing in a course book for the Spanish language? I have been to spain a couple of times and I have never seen anyone wear a pair of Mickey ears.” I had heard of someone being robbed by someone else in a Donald Duck suit so I decided to ask ms. Jiminez if MM ears were normal head gear in Spain. Or why it was deamed a good example in this book.
…Not even a chucle…Deathly silence and bemused faces all around me.
I had completely and utterly bombed. Aparently my Spanish has a serious undertone and sarcasm is not a language spoken globally. I don’t think anyone in that class will ever take me seriously again. Now I am just the weirdo with the stupid remarks. And That after Oliver had given ‘Maria’ the advice to not wear anything to her office reunion! Next week will be a serious test of character and I will be well advised to think before speaking, especially in Spanish.