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Hay una mosca en la sopa!

Well, I never thought that I’d be happy with anything less than 20 out of 20 but I am fairly delighted that I got 17 out of 20 new words right. I wrote them out on cards, stuck a ribbon through the holes and hung them on the fridge. I go to the fridge fairly often it has to be said – which may account for my success.

I’m really fascinated by the expressions that I got wrong. They are fairly close to the correct version and I bet that if I said them quickly I would get by (feedback welcome). But why did I find them so hard? Here are the 3 I found impossible to remember.

1. Servida te mas? – wrong!
¿Te sirvo mas? – correct.
2. Esta delicioso para he yo comido demasiada.- wrong!
Esta delicioso pero ya he comido demasiado. – correct.
3. Gracias, hay esta muy bien pasada.- wrong!
Gr acias, lo he pasada muy bien. – correct.

I don’t know what the little words mean!!

‘He’ & ‘yo’ & ‘hay’ sound like lyrics from a rap song rather than real words. For years I’ve been trying to convince my students that “It doesn’t matter what the little words mean – just learn the phrase” and now I’ve come a cropper! If I don’t know the difference between he and hay then why should my brain care which one I put in a phrase? It doesn’t matter so much when there are just two words like No hay There is / are no… But with great big long sentences it’s all too much for me and I just can’t get the phrases to stick. So I look the word hay up on one of my favourite web sites and then I remember why I tell students “It doesn’t matter what the little words mean ….” Still, I find a completely useless (I would rather eat the fly than complain about it) but memorable sentence Hay una mosca en la sopa! and the word hay is forever etched in my brain.

I don’t know how to conjugate my verbs!!

I’ve been putting this moment off because the thought of conjugating verbs is about as appealing to me as eating worms. No me gusto! In fact I think I have a verb phobia. Seriously! And yet, we all know that at some point there is no getting round it, we have to actually do some hard graft and get the things cemented in our brains. Part of the lesson that I missed was the regular ‘AR’ verbs in Spanish. As I learn best by seeing and hearing I turned to the Internet for inspiration. One of the first videos I found delighted me! I didn’t understand a word of it but it cheered me up no end and after the third reply I could chip in with answers here and there . Still, I know I’m going to have to actually make something in Blue Peter fashion or do something equally embarrassing for it to stick by next week.

Hasta luego mis amigos!

As easy as ABC!

In my last Spanish class, we started to learn the alphabet. I was somewhat perturbed by the fact that there were so many letters to learn (26 is quite enough thank you!) but in fact it was actually fairly painless to remember the letters – especially when we recited them in order, as a class.

But as soon as the teacher asked us to spell our names to each other, my brain went to mush and I pretended to be very busy correcting a previous exercise. As we were ‘in a three’ instead of a pair, I managed to continue with this avoidance strategy until the exercise was over. Pheww!

It’s the same with numbers. I can recite 0 to 100 no problem – but give me a random number or ask me to give you my telephone number and I just can’t do it. Or can’t I? Back in the safety of my own home, I had a go at spelling my name and saying my telephone number and actually, the issue isn’t that I can’t do it– but that it takes a lot longer than I think it should and I make mistakes! Ha! Caught myself out there! How childish of me!

I’m sure that if I’d actually done the exercise in class, I’d have managed to string something together – particularly with the help of my partner. Determined to ‘try harder’ next week, I turned to the internet to see if there were any programmes that could help me learn. The internet abounds with games, songs, videos and tutorials but my personal favourite after searching for about AN HOUR (I actually had a good excuse for surfing the internet…) was this song from the album En Espanol Basho & Friends by Bashe Mosko.…!

Not everyone likes listening to kids songs to learn new things and there are plenty of more ‘serious’ free resources on the net. Do share your favourite learning resource below – they don’t have to be Spanish!

Ah – day – ee- oh- esse!

Le Métro et Moi – Couscous

Lettie's 15th birthday and Colleys 004

As some of you know, I’m fairly ‘gourmande’ (fond of food), so long as I don’t have to cook it and I have just had a culinary experience which ‘a mis en fête mes papilles’ (tickled my taste-buds).

It all started on the Eurostar.  As I was trying to manoeuvre a highly embarrassing number of suitcases on to the train, ‘j’ai confié une mission à ma fille’ (I entrusted my daughter with a task); to claim our window seats from a French mother and daughter team who ‘les convoitaient’ (were lusting after them).  With all the grace of a diplomat ‘expérimentée’ (experienced), she confirmed that they were ‘en effet’ (indeed) our seats, but that the ladies were most welcome to take them.  The ladies, being most ‘courtoises’ (gracious) themselves, took their (proper) places ‘correctes’ and ‘nous nous sommes bien installées’ (we settled in) for the journey.  We quickly introduced ourselves ‘nous nous sommes vite présentées’ and by the time we arrived in Paris we had swapped ‘cartes de visite’ (business cards), ‘racontées nos vies’ (shared life stories) and ‘surtout’ (most importantly) we were ‘invitées à manger’ (invited for dinner) ‘le weekend d’après’ (the following weekend)!

We crossed Paris the following Sunday morning with ‘un narcisse en paquet cadeau’ (gift-wrapped narcissus), a bottle of wine ‘pour la cave’ (for the cellar), and ‘mon tricot’ (my knitting) as I had found a fellow ‘passionnée’ (enthusiast).  Our hosts had prepared an authentic couscous – not the boil, pour and stir variety that I know and love – but a proper hand-steamed-started-cooking-while-you-were-still-in-bed ‘délice’ (delight)‘Nous nous sommes régalées! (We had a real feast!)  Fatalement (inevitably – not fatally) it was our turn to invite them for a meal and ‘mon cœur sombrait à cette seule pensée’ (my heart sank at the prospect).  My cooking ability “n’a rien à voir avec le vôtre’ (is nothing like yours) I confessed to our hostess. “What about Fish and Chips?” she suggested.

To ‘contrebalancer’ (counter balance) my couscous and croissant lifestyle, I have recently taken on ‘un coach privé’ (a personal trainer).  We ‘échange’ a French lesson ‘contre’ (for) a ‘séance d’entrainement’ (workout) and I really feel that she has ‘la plus grosse part du gâteau’ (the better part of the bargain) – a particularly ‘pertinent’ (relevant) translation as we shall see…  She sips tea while I instruct her in ‘les mystères’ (the mysteries) of the French language; then the following hour she hovers with a stop-watch while I stagger about on various combinations of ‘membres’ (limbs) before ‘m’écrouler’ (collapsing) in a heap ‘à ses pieds’ ( at her feet).  She had ‘l’audace’ (the gall) to suggest that I might want to stop treats for a while ‘pour retrouver ma ligne’ (to get back in shape.  Unfortunately her advice coincided with me having just made the biggest, pinkest birthday cake ever.  Chaque chose en son temps! (First things first!)


Le Métro et moi: Four Times table

Le Métro et moi – Week 9 – Four Times tables

‘Pour résumer’ (to cut it short) ‘je ne vais pas rentrer dans le détail’ (I’ll spare you the details), we arrived in France with just the contents of a Kangoo car and a cellar full of ‘objets de famille’ (family heirlooms). My sister-in-law ‘nous a depanné’ (helped us out) with ‘un grille-pain’ (a toaster), une poêle (a frying pan) and various ‘affaires’ (bits and bobs). We bought a bed from our ‘anciens locataires’ (former lodgers) and they kindly gave us another one ‘un acheté, un gratuit’ (Buy One Get One Free or BOGOF)! ‘Les trouvailles’ (the treasure) from the cellar ‘comprenait’ (included) ‘un jeu de casseroles’ (a set of saucepans), ‘un pétrin’ (a trough for making dough), some ‘assiettes avariées’ (an assortment of mismatched plates), ‘un buffet’ from the ‘50’s and a (matching) table ‘assortie’ – but without legs. Now call me old-fashioned, but I like my tables off the floor with ‘espace pour les jambes’ (legroom) underneath. We tried to ‘mettre en équilibre’ (perch) the table on top of the ‘pétrin’, but after a (close call) ‘on l’a échappé belle!’ when an unsuspecting guest ’s’accoudait’ (put their elbows on) the table, we abandoned the idea.

And so, armed with some ‘pendre la cremaillère’ (house-warming) money, I found our first table in Emmäus. This old (folding and extendable) pine table ‘pliable avec rallonges’ gave our kitchen an ‘air de campagne’ (country feel). However, as it is in fact a city kitchen, ‘il n’y avait pas la place’ there was no room left to actually sit at it! So off I went in search of a smaller one.

Back in Emmäus, I spotted a smaller, (oval shaped) table ‘en forme ovale’ – perfect. ‘J’aurais dû m’en rendre compte’ (alarm bells should have started to ring) when I couldn’t get this one in to the car because it didn’t fold but I was so ‘séduite’ (bewitched) by the beautiful (carved) feet ‘en bois sculptée’ and the price (18 euros) that I simply secured the ‘coffre’ (boot) in a possibly illegal fashion with some ‘lanières’ (elastic chords with hooks) and drove home very slowly. ‘Une fois rentrée’ Back home, I realised that ‘ça ne rentrait pas’ (it wouldn’t fit through the door). And then I realised that it didn’t fold. Thankfully, we squeezed it through the ‘porte-fenêtre’ (French doors) and there it sits, too small for when we have guests to dine and too big to get in to the kitchen.

‘Je suis tenace!’ (I don’t give up easily) and table number three was spotted at a charitable sale for a local church. I handed my money over to the ‘grande dame’ (“A woman who is socially prominent, respected, and experienced, especially one who is haughty and advanced in age”, and carried off my ‘trophée’ (trophy) and manoeuvred it expertly in to the boot. ‘En le renversant’ (as I turned it upside down) one of the feet crumbled in my hands. All four legs were ‘bourrées de’ (riddled with) ‘ver de bois’ (woodworm). I brought it back to the stand, just minutes after my purchase and showed it to the woman. “On ne peut pas vous rembourser” (“We can’t give you your money back). “Rien ne vous empêchait de’ (Nothing was stopping you from) turning it over and checking the feet. This is a charity event don’t you know.’ ‘Je me suis à peine retenue’ (I only just stopped myself from) turning the woman upside down and walked away ‘les mains vides’ (empty-handed).

I don’t think that I can face a fourth table any time in the near future. Meanwhile, when guests join us we ‘se serrent’ (squeeze ourselves) in to the kitchen. We have food to put on it, friends to gather round it and ‘c’est tout ce qui compte’ (that’s all that matters).  Oh, and we don’t have champagne and croissants for breakfast every morning …