I had to sit through a roommates meeting last night and for anyone who has ever had to sit through a roommates meeting imagine doing it in a different language. Nightmare.
The Chilean, our two other roommates from Colombia and landlord are all native Spanish speakers so obviously the meeting was in Spanish. My Spanish listening skills far outweigh my speaking skills but that doesn’t mean they are any good. I’m a beginner and a very beginner beginner at that. Like my other posts bemoaning the fact I can’t learn the language of the country I’m living in the majority of my day is going against me. I spend at least 8 hours speaking English at work. I go home and can have basic conversations in Spanish with the Chilean but they are so Spanish textbook role play conversations it’s not the best way to communicate my day with him.
So back to the roommates meeting… listening to people speak another language for a few hours is exhausting. You can’t switch off or scan the conversation for important words and phrases like you can if people are speaking your native language, or at least I can’t. Your head is turning back and forth like a kitten watching tennis on the tv and your brain is constantly processing. Translating directly or trying to guess the word from a context is also a really slow process, by the time you figure out what’s being said they’ve already moved on to the next topic.
After not speaking for a good hour and my landlord apologising profusely about speaking in Spanish, I decided to lighten the mood a little and muttered under my breath the few phrases I know by heart, “Me llamo Kate. Soy canadiense. No hablo espanol”. I kind of meant it only for me but in my usual Kate-ish way I said it far too loud and everyone got a big kick out of it…… I think. It’s still hard for me to distinguish laughing at or laughing with in Spanish.