Tonight, while the family was sitting around before dinner, amidst a sea of Spanish I heard a tidbit of English. My ears perked up. One of the kids was practicing a list of vocabulary words. She's in highschool, where English is taught to all the students. In fact, it's supposed to be taught in elementary schools too, but I've heard that in reality this isn't always the case. She was struggling with some words, so I went over to help with pronunciation. Then one of the younger kids came over, and we were all practicing numbers. "Thirteen" and "thirty" are especially tricky, but we got them. Eventually an older niece, who'd taken a beginner's English class at a university, joined in. They gave me Spanish words to practice. In turn, I gave them the English pronunciation. This carried on all through dinner and beyond. We listed words for things in the kitchen, body parts, furniture, and foods. We laughed at some language oddities (they have no special word for "thumb," and the word for "wrist" is the same as "babydoll") We practiced some greetings and questions. We quizzed each other. They did much better than me (curse my swiss-cheese memory). Hours later, they say "good night" to me, and I bid them "buenas noches."
I'm not sure how much I'll remember, or how useful it is to know the word for "toe." But we had fun. It was nice to make some sort of connection, to communicate, even at the most basic level.
Labels: costa rica