Helen and I started class today at UBA. We took the #110 colectivo to Palermo where there is a private Armenian school. The kids are on summer vacation, so UBA uses it as an extension campus.
The photo is of the professora, Andrea. We are in the beginners class. We didn´t even need to take the placement exam to get placed here. We are at the bottom of the bottom of extanjeros studying español.
It is a bit of a dissapointment for me. I took Spanish for three semesters and a summer just to end up at the beginning. I mean, there are people in this class who cannot even count to 10 or say "good morning, how are you?" in Spanish. I guess I am more embarrassed than anything else. I now have a better understanding of how my students feel when they are tested in reading and writing and we place them in developmental classes. It is discouraging and embarrassing.
Helen thinks that it is because Argentine Spanish is soooo much different than other Latin American countries. The accent is very different and many words we learned are not used here. For example, I went out buy a pen and asked for a "bolígrafo." Well, here they are called "birome" (thanks for the correction, Juan).
I know I didn´t do well on the written exam, but I thought I did very well with the interview. Helen thinks that the placement examiners just didn´t understand my vocabulary or accent. I disagree, though. These are really smart Argentine professoras who understand the variations of vocabulary and accent throughout the Spanish-speaking world. I just didn´t do well.
Rather, I think I was placed here because I slacked off after Thanksgiving. I was getting behind in my own classes with my own students and stopped going to class and studying to catch up with them. I was also getting ready fo the holidays (Felices Fiestas) and making final preparations for the trip. By the time I got here, I had forgotten quite a bit.
But, seriously, I am in a class where some people have no clue. Helen says I should request a higher placement, but I recall the famous words of President George W. Bush, "Be careful what you wish for." (Well, he should have said that).
I will take this beginners class in January and then move up in February. After that, summer is over here and the regular semester begins. I don´t know if I will be here long enough to take a regular semester course. I may have to hire a private tutor.
The class is suppossed to have 14 people in it. Ten showed up today. It is all in Spanish; there is no English spoken. But then, why would there be? We are not all North Americans. There are four North Americans, including Helen and me. The others are Guy, a "retired" lawyer from LA about our age who is soon to open a hotel in Equador; and Elizabeth Ann, (Elise) a young blond from Okahoma who prefers Texas steak and is craving some Tex-Mex right about now.
There are two other men: Jonah, a marketing director from Finland; and Owen, who is from Dublin and works on the Irish stock exchange. Both are in their 20s. There are two German women, Barbara, a film and TV producer, and Julie, a lawyer. Maria, a hi-tech worker, is from Switzerland, and Eva, and international studies student, is from Shanghi. Of all of us, the guy from Finland and I seem to have the strongest skills. But the Chinese girl is really smart.
Class meets Monday through Friday for three hours a day, for four weeks. I´ll keep you posted.
Buenas noches mis amigos, hasta mañana.