Monday, June 10, 2013

Shopping in Spanish and Rosetta Stone - a Review

Shopping at Bravo Market

You may have read my previous post titled “Struggling in Spanish”. The struggling was going from bad to worse and I was getting really discouraged. I have tried to maintain a positive attitude. I was studying and trying to communicate at every opportunity, but the taxi driver definitely did not understand where I wanted to go, the teen-aged girls in the produce market fell off their stools laughing while they tried to figure out what I was asking for, and I still don’t know how to tell the very attentive store clerks that I am “just looking.” Even my English seemed to be falling short. When I ordered 4 bottles of water to be delivered on Wednesday morning we got 2 bottles on Thursday afternoon. When I asked for 16 meters of cordage I got 60. Both times my request was repeated back to me in perfect English. Maybe their grasp of English is no better than mine of Spanish.
Mike kept trying to encourage me saying that I had just reached a plateau and I needed only to persevere. He excels in persistence and perseverance. I, on the other hand, do not. But he was right! Suddenly yesterday I was speaking Spanish and I was being understood! I ordered freshly squeezed orange juice with ice for Mike and without ice for me. I told the clerk in the fabric store exactly what we wanted to buy and also asked her where the fabric was made. I told the man in the clothing store that I was looking for a shirt that was lightweight and cool. I asked a dock hand if he knew whether or not the supermarket is open on Sundays.
There are several large supermarkets in La Paz (including a Wal Mart) and, yes, they are all open on Sundays
After months of studying and struggling it was a surprising breakthrough. What a great feeling to finally understand and be understood! Maybe there is something to this persistence and perseverance stuff.
Scene of my success!
People often ask me what I think of Rosetta Stone so maybe you who read my blog are interested as well. I am using the 5-level Latin American Spanish which my dear friend Margy generously shared with me. (Thank you, darlin’. Your kindness has enhanced this journey so very much more than you could ever imagine.) One of the nice aspects of Rosetta Stone is that the program can be installed on two different computers and each computer can accommodate several learners (10, I think). Speech recognition has been the most valuable feature of the program for me. It is a real confidence booster and especially useful if you have no one to practice with. Even with previous language learning experience, I don’t find Rosetta Stone to be as intuitive as they claim it to be. Sometimes I don’t know what the pictures are supposed to represent so I just have to guess. And, because it is total immersion, no grammar rules are explained. I often learn how to say a specific phrase or sentence but not the rule that would enable me to apply it to other situations. Rosetta Stone has been invaluable for learning pronunciation and vocabulary but, in my opinion, it is not a stand-alone program. I am also using a workbook of Spanish verb tenses, a vocabulary workbook, and a textbook of basic grammar. It really feels like work sometimes, but I’m getting there and it is well worth the effort.

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