I lied!

photo of people walking on street

Photo by Lukas Kloeppel on Pexels.com

So, my last blog I wrote about our plans for Mexico and what not….. was a lie! We have actually arrived back to Ireland at the beginning of June! My last blog was really for my Mum (she is the biggest fan of my blog) and I didn’t want her to suspect anything.  You can check it out here: Looking To The Future

After my parents left Mexico after visiting us, we decided to leave in the next few months. We realised we were in Mexico too long and it just didn’t work out for neither of us. We weren’t able to get a job because we were busy with the weddings (ours and my husbands sister), then we would have had to move to Mexico city because in the city where we were there just weren’t any jobs for me.

I don’t see it as a failure though; I enjoyed my experience there, I came from literally zero Spanish to now being able to have day to day conversations, we got married and had our perfect wedding, and finally my parents came to visit. So some things didn’t work out but a lot of others did. It’s nice to be closer to my family though in Ireland. The weather is crap though, so I do miss the weather in Mexico! But I’ve been enjoying eating lots of white and brown bread.

I’d also like to think we are getting back on course to figuring out where we want to live and all that ‘life’ stuff. Maybe it will be in Ireland or maybe somewhere else in Europe, we will see!

But it’s nice being with my family for a while, with no flight to leave for for a while!

Aisling

Advertisements

Looking To The Future

sky earth galaxy universe

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With our wedding and my husbands sisters wedding over, we have been thinking of what to do. As I’ve mentioned before, we couldn’t really sort out jobs because we knew we had our wedding coming up, and my parents were also going to be here for 3 weeks, so we knew it would be difficult to get jobs with these on the horizon. So we made the decision to wait until all these events were over to look for jobs.

We are quite open to anything though. (country wise!) Because we are now married, it’s easier for my husband to live in Europe with me. It’s not 100% plain sailing, but it’s much easier than if we weren’t together!

We were talking and we are in agreement that if Mexico doesn’t work then both of us are open to any country really. My sister in law was very excited telling us about Paris and how she could help us get jobs. We are interested of course, but we need to think of the pro’s and con’s of moving to France. But the option is there.

Another option is Spain. My husband has an aunt that lives in Madrid and I’m sure she could help if we decided to move there. Also in Barcelona we know someone who lives there. So we have options.

I would prefer to live in Spain because I’m learning the language, but I won’t say France is off the cards though.

I think the fact that we lived in China makes us feel like we can sort of survive in any country now, because really, if you can live in China then you can pretty much live in any country! It doesn’t feel like such a daunting task, especially if you plan to move to somewhere in Europe.

But anyway, Ireland is the most viable option at the moment. For my husband it’s the easiest way to get to Europe as all he needs is a visa that shows we are together, so it’s very easy.

For Mexico, it’s on the cards but probably not in the city where we are right now. Mexico city has more opportunities, so I would just have to learn to love the city if we decided to move!

So, as always, we are still up in the air with everything….

But the good thing is my spanish is improving!

So yay for that!

Aisling

Let’s Get Talking (Spanish) Again!

auditorium benches chairs class

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With my wedding, my parents coming to visit, I had to stop going to my Spanish class with my teacher for at least 1 month! Then there were holidays here so that added to classes being delayed.

When my Mum and Dad were here I rarely spoke Spanish. I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable and left out when everybody was speaking Spanish. I know that feeling! So I just spoke English while there were here.

Then when they did left, I felt as if I forgot loads of things! I forgot words, verb conjugations, how to form the correct sentences. I really did feel like I forgot everything! I started studying again and I’ve found a Mexican TV show to watch on Netflix when the in-laws aren’t using it, and I think it’s helping me quite a bit. I remember a few words from it and simple phrases. It’s called ‘La casa de las flores’ if you are interested! It’s not something I’d want myself, but I’m getting more interested in it and it’s good for my listening practice.

So today was my first class with my teacher and It turned out well. I was a little apprehensive in case I was struggling to talk, but thankfully I spoke fine. I noticed though that I had been confusing él with ella. He and She. So I’d be talking about my husband with ella and my teacher would constantly repeat el! I didn’t even realise I was doing it. (and this used to drive me crazy with my Chinese students when I was teaching!)

I really enjoy my class though; I can make as many mistakes as I want and she won’t mind. That’s what I like. I’m not judged. (I feel I’m constantly being judged when I speak Spanish around others) She was also all praise about my Spanish too. I really do feel like it’s terrible, so when she congratulates me I really don’t know how to respond. I’d love to agree and know that my speaking ability is good, but at the moment I just can’t. When I’m not with her my Spanish hides and I can’t get the words out! So that’s my problem!

The class kind of reminded me that it’s still in my head somewhere…. I haven’t forgotten it…. and that I can talk with some degree of fluency…. with confidence I might add!

Aisling

Getting Used To The City

architecture clouds daylight houses

Photo by André Cook on Pexels.com

When I first came to Mexico and the city where I am staying with my in-laws, I didn’t really feel comfortable here. I wanted to try out Mexico city; there are lots of things to do, there are more foreigners, there are cheaper places to learn Spanish, and it will be easier to get a job. Although I really like Cuernavaca, where I am now…. I just thought that I would enjoy Mexico city more.

For the past few weeks now however, my attitude is changing! I think I’m settling in more and I’m getting more comfortable with my surroundings.

I know where I can buy medicines in the pharmacy, I know where the doctors and dentists are. I know which restaurants I can go to for cheap food. I know where I can get things photocopied, I know (pretty much) the layout of the centre. I know how to get to my therapist and to my spanish classes. I know more roads and where they lead to…

Although the city is much quieter than Mexico, I’m starting to like it more and more. Before I didn’t really want to find a job here, but now that I’m more familiar with the area, I feel that I actually could stay here if both of us found jobs. We’d have to rent somewhere if we plan on staying longer so that is something we would need to think about!

But at the moment, In the city I just don’t really see a job here for me. Maybe I’ll be teaching English (yet again), but there aren’t too many schools around here, except drastically overpriced schools for spanish learners.

But as always, everything isn’t concrete, so we’ll see what happens when the time comes!

Aisling

 

I’m Going To Try Again

person doing thumbs up

Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

When I first arrived here in October, I wrote a blog about how I joined a Spanish class in a University; 1 hour a day, 5 days a week. I explained how I didn’t enjoy the class and I didn’t want to continue going to it. You can read about it here: No, It Didn’t Go Well

So anyway, I ended up not going to the classes and I just studied on my own for the past 5 months. I began to get frustrated with my lack of progress and got angry with myself because I just can’t learn the language, so there were days where I really did want to just quit!

I started realising that in order to improve my Spanish, I’d have to go back to having Spanish classes. I guess the first experience just kind of put me off going to classes. I really didn’t enjoy myself, I didn’t particularly like the teacher, and I was apprehensive about going to another one and it ended up the same. So that’s why I never tried again.

Plus they are just SO expensive! I wanted to come to Mexico to learn the language, I come, and then I realise I can’t even join any because they are too expensive. That annoyed me as well, I can’t even go to to classes because I can’t afford it.

So I started looking around online for private companies and of course there a loads. There’s one literally down the road from me, but of course I can’t afford to go.

While we were driving we saw a language school that we decided to look at. It’s about €11 for 1 hour (still expensive I might add) but I don’t have to pay for 20 hours a week like in the other schools.

We decided to go for a try class of 15 minutes to see what it was like. The house is nice with a good atmosphere, plus they have a cute puppy and a very fat cat sleeping in the porch. (We thought it was pregnant but it’s actually a male).

I met the teacher and she asked me a few things about myself and what she would be teaching me. She said that she plans on doing conversation exercises, which I definitely need. I really like the teacher and I was very happy with the short class.

And……

One thing that I do realise…….. I have improved since October and my first try class with the other teacher!

In my first experience, I could hardly speak; I didn’t know the conjugations of verbs whatsoever, I didn’t understand pretty much any of her questions, and I could hardly string a basic sentence together about myself.

This time round it was a totally different experience; I could understand pretty much all of what the teacher asked me, I was able to conjugate some verbs (I’m still quite terrible at them though), I could easily explain my life in China, what I did, where I lived, about my husband, and it was just shocking that I was actually able to talk to her in a conversation!

During it, I was thinking to myself “God I’m actually talking to her….. I can hold a conversation with her…. I definitely wasn’t able to do this with the first class I had in October…. I have improved!”

I know I would have improved faster if I went to classes, but with the wedding coming up, the lack of jobs for both of us, expenses that we didn’t count on having… I just didn’t want to spend over €400 a week for classes. I just can’t afford it.

So with this current teacher, I go for 2 hours a week. It’s definitely not as good as 20 hours, but it’s something at least. Maybe when I get a job I’ll be able to try one of those immersion classes.

But for now, 2 hours makes me more than happy!

Aisling

My Husband Speaks English TOO Well!

 

photo of couple inside the coffee shop

Photo by Eduardo Simões Neto Junior on Pexels.com

So, you would think that me being with a Mexican person I would pick up Spanish just like that…. well…..

No…. if ONLY it was like that! You see the problem with our relationship is that my husband is pretty much a native English speaker….. only that he looks Mexican and grew up in the country. His English is perfect and doesn’t have an accent at all. He actually never studied abroad or anything like that and just studied it when he was young, which amazes me!

So….. him being able to converse perfectly with me creates a problem when I’m trying to learn Spanish.

When we met in China, I didn’t have the urge to learn the language, I didn’t even know if I would be with him long! Then when it became 3+ years together I thought “Oh hang on, I think I’ll actually have to learn it now”.

While in China, I was busy studying Chinese and I just didn’t want to get the two languages mixed up, so that was the main reason for not studying it. Plus I didn’t need Spanish at the time. So throughout our time in China we always spoke English to each other.

Then when we arrived to Mexico, he STILL talked to me in English. I had to remind him “In Spanish….in spanish..” and then he would say it again. Our relationship for over 4 years was completely in English, so now it was just difficult for him to switch to Spanish. He’s too used to speaking English with me.

So this is a big problem!

I think now he’s getting used to speaking more to me in Spanish, but it’s still very common to hear him talking to me in English. And it would be simple things he would say to me in English and I would think “He can easily just say that in Spanish and I would be able to understand”

I understand pretty much everything that he says to me, so there’s no problem with me not understanding…. it’s just this habit that we’ve picked up.

Sometimes I wish his English was crap so then I’d be forced to learn it, but then I think “Well if his English wasn’t good then he wouldn’t have gone to China and taught English… I wouldn’t even have met him if that was the case”.

We will break this habit one day!

Aisling

Learning Spanish Routine; Updated

So a few weeks ago I posted about how I study Spanish and what my routine was. Well, it has sort of changed since that time; I realised some methods just weren’t working, so I’ve adapted it and I feel it is helping me more. Click the link to find my old post: Learning Spanish in Mexico: My Study Routine

In the morning I’d usually do 2 wheels from Duolingo. It’s not too taxing for me in the morning and I like seeing how my wheels change colour when I’ve studied them. I’m going down my tree turning every wheel one colour, so the whole tree will be green/blue….. Then I go back up to the top and start turning them another colour. It depends on the theme/ grammar point in each wheel, but usually 2 wheels will take me between 30-45 minutes to complete. (Especially the harder ones which are lower on the tree, also if I keep getting them wrong).

(UPDATED): I’m still doing my Duolingo, but I’m not doing 2 wheels anymore to make them change colour. On level 2, you have to do the same wheel 8 times, so instead, what I’m doing now is just 1/8 of the wheel, then moving to another wheel. So I do 5 wheels instead of just 1 or 2. I thought it got boring doing the same exercise 8 times in a row.

I also sometimes read some Duolingo Stories, but these are really when I’m in the mood. I don’t feel like they help me much for studying, but some stories are interesting to read.

Then we usually have lunch and I try and speak Spanish, but usually I just eat in silence because I’m not particularly talkative even in English! But this is a good time for some listening practice, as my fiancé and his parents LOVE to talk, so that’s good for my listening! I know I need to work on this though, so I’ll try and make an extra effort in speaking during this time.

I find that after lunch is the most difficult time to study. I’m tired (maybe due to lunch) and just want to take a nap really! So I end up usually just procrastinating during the hours of 2pm-4pm. So again, another thing I need to improve on.

Later on in the afternoon I sort of get my energy back up again and I start studying grammar. I have one book called ‘Collins, easy learning; Spanish Grammar & Practice’ and it teaches basic spanish grammar. What I like to do is read every thing that I’ve studied before in the book, and then start a new grammar point. I try and understand it and then do some written exercises which are in the book. I get my fiancé to go through them and explain to me if I got something wrong.

(UPDATED): I’ve sort of given up on the grammar book for the moment. There are still a lot of grammar points I can’t get my head around, so sometimes I’ll have a look at it when I want, but I don’t study from it as much now.

I have another easier book to use which I switch back and forth. This one is a classroom based book with dialogues and what not.

It’s starting to get dark outside now and I move onto something else. I’ve set each day of the week (bar 1) where I learn 10 new words . So maybe on Monday I look at my calendar and see I have to learn nouns, so I learn 10 nouns for that day. I have 5 things to learn; nouns, adjectives, verbs, tenses and tense conjugations. So first I will learn my nouns, then I will review everything that I’ve learned from these 5 categories. For example,  I’ve lots of nouns that I’ve already learned so I go back to the beginning and re-read them all. Sometimes It’s boring but I realised I remember pretty much all of them just by reading them everyday.

The same goes for adjectives and what not.  I think maybe I could push to 20 words per day, so I think I might slowly increase my new vocab. At the beginning I was learning 30 words everyday and by the end, having to learn so many made me dread that time of day! So now 10 is very easy for me.

So all that takes me a while to do, but It really does help me. I’m not stressing myself if I forget an adjective or tense, because I know I’ll review them tomorrow and the next day, so they will stick one day!

(UPDATED): I upped it again to 30 words but(once again) it got too much for me. For the moment I’m not learning new words.

After this, I might dabble a bit with some listening practice by watching YouTube videos. I usually do this sporadically during the day.

Then, I have a list of questions in Spanish on my computer and I have to write an answer and learn them off by heart. The latest one I learned was ‘Que hiciste ayer?’ …’What did you do yesterday?’. So I try and write it in spanish, and then my fiancé comes and corrects the mistakes. It’s great having him nearby to fix all of my errors! After that I try and learn every sentence off by heart, until I know the whole answer. Sometimes It’s difficult as I’m using tenses that I’ve haven’t studied yet, but I don’t want simple answers, I want answers that are complicated and so I learn new vocab and tenses.

(UPDATED) Although I enjoyed writing out the sentences to the questions, I felt like I just wasn’t remembering the phrases. I would need to read and re-read them over and over, and I just couldn’t remember them. So I’ve realised this wasn’t the most useful way for me to learn.

Sometime during the evening I try and spend an hour speaking with my fiancé about a topic in Spanish. I’m grateful he takes the time out to help me with my spanish, as he’s busy doing his own things.

I might also use another book which is an Irish exam paper. There are two levels, higher and ordinary,  with higher level being more difficult. In it there are exam papers that student’s do for their Leaving Cert to get into University. Every practice exam paper has stories to read and then questions to answer underneath. I enjoy doing this and I can notice they are getting easier to read, especially when I remember reading them while I was in China!

Finally, I like to read at night so I downloaded some free spanish kindle books to read. I really enjoy reading so this isn’t a chore for me at all, unless it’s super difficult! I’ve watched some tv shows in Spanish with the family but I lose interest after a while because I just don’t understand anything. Watching a film in Spanish that I’ve already seen before in English helps though, as I already know what it’s about so it’s not as bad. Plus sometimes a programme/film will be in English with Spanish subtitles, which I would rather not watch!

So I kept some of the methods from my previous and got rid of others. Below are 4 more methods that I’ve started using!

One of the things that surprised me a lot was how much I enjoy writing a diary in Spanish. I usually write one page and a half about what I did yesterday, what I plan to do, my feelings…. you know, stuff you’d put in a diary. It’s helped me a lot and it’s not a chore to do at all. It helps me to practice the conjugations and I have noticed my writing is improving. So that’s one thing I really like doing now.

Recently I’ve started writing 3 sentences with a verb/ adjective or noun I’ve chosen. I’ve just started this, but I think I may stick to writing sentences using just a verb instead of using adjectives and nouns. I can practice with the conjugations of the verbs and that will help me to remember them. I enjoy doing this also.

I’ve subscribed to lots of Spanish speakers YouTube accounts. Tonnes are about them being AuPairs and moving to a different country and telling their experiences. Some of them speak slow while others speak very fast, so I think it’s really good listening practice and it’s ‘everyday’ Spanish that I’m listening to.

Finally, I’ve forgotten that I used to use Memrise to study Chinese, so I’ve picked that back up again and I’ve started using it. I usually do this after I’ve done my Duolingo. I like that Memrise has full, and often very useful sentences that you practice.

So, that’s it, another spanish routine! A few weeks ago I was studying quite a lot, but now I usually don’t do all that I’ve mentioned in one day. I’ve stressed myself out too much so I just do what I feel like doing. Maybe I’ll only do 2 things from the list but I just need a break and not to push myself too hard.

Let me know if you use any of these methods while studying a language and if they are helpful!

Aisling