Since my afternoons are free and my need is growing, I've inquired about taking Spanish classes here. Unfortunately, I've discovered that courses at reputable schools cost well over $200 per week (with discounts for multiple weeks). That's for four hours a day, five days a week of complete Spanish immersion. I'm sure they're worthwhile, but the price is a bit beyond this poor man's budget at this point. That's quite a bit more than Ticos are paying for English classes, I believe. Such is the curse of supply and demand.
It's been suggested that I could try looking for classes at some of the local universities. But to do that, I would need to know enough Spanish to either navigate the schools' websites or wander their campuses and register somehow. Possible, but difficult, I think. Others have said I should try to find a private tutor. But I have a feeling the price for that would be high, too.
I brought some language CDs with me, and I have the Rosetta Stone software on my laptop. I've just been lazy about using them. Now that I know my alternative is to shell out $200+ a week, I've gained a new appreciation for them. That was the slap in the face that I needed. I'll try to get a decent foundation using the resources I have. A little studying combined with real-life immersion should provide me with the basics, at least. I just need to put forth the effort. Later on, if I still need more help, I'll reconsider paying for lessons.
On the flip side of things, I'm starting to worry that my English skills are being affected by lack of use. I'm finding that even though I still think in English, I'm using simpler syntax. Since I only know certain structures in Spanish (I'm stuck in the present tense: I need X, I want X, I have X), I'm starting to think within those boundaries. When I have a chance to talk with another English-speaker, such as my fellow teachers, I have to make a conscious effort to add complexity to my sentences.
It doesn't help that most of the time when I'm speaking English, I'm talking to my students, so I have to grade my speech to their level. That habit carries over to "normal" conversations. I guess it's an occupational hazard. Hopefully I'll be able to keep myself sharp by reading the few books I brought with me and by writing here regularly. It'd be a shame for an English teacher to lose his English skills!
Labels: costa rica