Linguistic Breakthrough

Today marks day five (non-consecutive) of construction on the property. Work is suffering and I am getting fed up. However, I did get a hole though my office wall today for my booster cable, meaning I can shut the window and block out some noise, so I’m not as cranky as I was a few hours ago. 🙂

The man dealing with all the work just keeps speaking to me in rapid fire Spanish. One thing that has changed since I got here about six weeks ago is that I no longer go into “OMG, Spanish! Red alert! Tell them to slow down!” mode when this happens, which keeps me from hearing anything.

Instead, I now let the words wash over me and, guess what? I usually get the gist of what’s being said to me! If I really have no clue by the time they are done, then I ask for clarification. But nine times out of ten, I don’t need to get anywhere near the whole thing to understand what is being said.

For instance, this afternoon he knocked on the door, apologized for disturbing me, and then spoke for about a minute about something having to do with the wiring for the washing machine, its outlet (for which the word is caja, so no wonder the internet guy thought my Spanish is better than it is!), outside, and a wall in my office

The washing machine had been plugged into an extension cord that went through my office window and plugged into an outlet in here. I would say that I didn’t get 80% of what he said to me, but what  I understood was that he wanted to install an exterior outlet for the washing machine and needed to come into the office to make a hole and when he was done, I wouldn’t have the extension cord coming into the office anymore.

I brought him and his helper into the office, pointed to the extension cord, and told him that the cord was going outside to a new box, correct? Exactly.

He asked me to shut down my equipment while he got his drill ready. I ran for some towels to cover my desk!

It took about a half hour for them to do everything they needed to do, including drilling the hole for my booster cable and cleaning up all the dust.

When he was done, I got another big spiel from which I gathered that he was done in the office, still had five minutes of work to do outside and I’d have power back in about 10 minutes. Of that spiel, I’d say that I caught maybe 10% of the words, but that’s all I needed.

This feels like a linguistic breakthrough to me even though I’ve been doing the same thing when reading for years.  I really do need to find a conversation teacher to help me increase my vocabulary and correct my errors, but the leaps that I have made in oral comprehension in mere weeks is astonishing. My Spanish teachers were right. I didn’t need more private lessons. I needed to get immersed.

10 thoughts on “Linguistic Breakthrough

  1. That was my problem. If I missed one word, I would stop them and try to get them to repeat or explain. I should have just picked what I could out of their words and gone from there.

    • So many words are filler, really! 😀

      And I find that it’s more useful to repeat back in my own words what I understood and get confirmation that that’s correct than it is for the speakers to repeat themselves.

  2. I spoke a little Spanish to one of the workers here today and her mouth fell open. She said my accent was very good. I felt proud of me even though I am no where near as fluent as you are so I can imagine how good this makes you feel to understand enough to get the gist of what is being said. Good for you!

  3. Muy bueno. It would help me to have more conversation around me so I could listen in. But, I don’t go out very much. Glad to hear of your progress.

  4. I asked while in town today. By the way I also picked up a Dec. copy of the M Magazine for you. Other than my morning beach walk I will be hear all day, don’t plan on leaving at all at all. Need to recover from the bustle of the city.

    • I appreciate you confirming it. Yay, decent coffee may be within walking distance. 🙂 I don’t know if I’ll have time to pop in today, I’ve got a lot of work and am still thinking of going to the spaghetti dinner.

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