Wow, I can't believe it is already December! The city is all decked out in lights and Christmas is in the air! This past Friday my school had our Christmas dinner and it just revalidated that I am so lucky to be working at this school. Everyone I work with is so nice and fun! We had a great meal consisting of jamón y queso, croquetas, steak, flan and ofcourse plenty of wine. At one point in the night the teachers began hitting the table with their hands and chanting 'Que habla Jaime!' (they took turns filling in the name of the 4 English assistants) Once our name was the one being chanted we had to stand up and make a toast. Having to stand up in front of 25 natives and speak Spanish is quite intimidating but I survived with only a few errors. We all talked and laughed at the restaurant until 1 am and then the teachers decided it was time to go dancing. So we all made our way out to various bars and clubs, dancing into the early morning.
Teaching is still going wonderfully and I am always so happy to be at school! This past week one of the teachers, Alberto, has began staying after school on Tuesdays to help me with my Spanish. One aspect I need the most work on is pronunciation and the accent. Here in Spain they speak Castellano which is a bit different from what we hear from Mexican and South American speakers. For example, they pronounce their c´s and z´s as th. So Barcelona is pronounced Barthelona. Or cerveca is pronounced thervetha. In addition they pronounce their j´s and g´s using their throat (think of German speakers). I personally have the most trouble with the 'jota' sound and feel like I am coughing something up everytime I try to say jamón or Sergio. I feel bad for any of my students with a j or g in their name because I never call on them.
Last week a group of 3rd grade girls came up to me in class and said 'Jaime, do this...' then they began making the throaty jota sound. Alberto had told the 3rd graders that English speakers, like Jaime, have a hard time pronouncing the jota. So now their favorite thing to do is try to teach me how to do it.
The way I described their accents and pronunciation made it seem that their language is ugly, but it is really very pretty. I actually prefer it to Mexican and South American Spanish. It only begins to sound butchered when an English speaker, like me, is trying to learn it. Hopefully in time I will get it down. :) Here is a short interview of Alejandro Sanz, a singer from Madrid. You can hear him speak Castellano. I personally could listen to him speak alllll day long! Hope you enjoy!
This week I have off of work due to the country's Constitution Day and some other holiday that I am not sure about. Maggie, Justin and I are taking advantage of all the free time and heading to Belgium on Wednesday! We will be spending 2 nights in Brugge and a day in Brussels. Belgium is the chocolate capital of the world, and for those of you who know how much I love chocolate know that this could be a bad combination. I may come back 15 pounds heavier! Hope everyone back home in the U.S. are doing great and getting into the Christmas spirit! Wishing I could be there with you all!