“Talk Like A Hoosier Pirate” Spanish
By Cindy Paul
In my thirty-six years living at Lakeside, I’ve heard hundreds of newly ensconced ex-pats make the same rash promise: “I’m going to learn Spanish this year.”Flushed with excitement and love for a new life and a new culture, they always say this as if learning a language was simply a chore on their To-Do list. Unpack. Buy a Mexican-plated car. Find a maid. Learn Spanish.
The disappointing truth is that it’s not that easy. Few Gringos possess the ear required to hear and pronounce a musical romance language. The vast majority of Gringos speak English, a language targeted more at doing business than hearts and flowers.
Death by Soft Consonant
Nothing induces a new Spanish student to quit class faster than not being able to understand anything the teacher says in Spanish. Whatever Spanish teacher you end up with will invariably speak with either a native Spanish accent or a decent approximation of one. Their “r’s” and “t’s” will sound indistinguishably like soft “d’s,” for example, their “b’s” like “v’s” and their “v’s” like “b’s.”
This confusing difference alone makes it very hard for a native of, say, Indiana to understand half the Spanish words the teacher pronounces. Now, if the beginning Spanish teacher were to pronounce Spanish words the way an Indiana Hoosier would pronounce them, they might keep their students longer.
In “Talk like a Hoosier Pirate” Spanish, the student is encouraged to pronounce everything the way a pirate would, harsh “r’s” and all. More importantly, the teacher also uses Hoosier-pirate pronunciation, so that the beginning student can understand it.
For example, the “Talk like a Hoosier Pirate” Spanish teacher saying the sentence ”La vaca no usa una bata” would employ harsh “v’s” and “b’s,” and the student would be much more likely to understand that cows do not wear bathrobes, and therefore, more likely to come back to class again.
Death by Conjugation
The Spanish class dropout rate is hardest hit by outright panic over conjugations. Since Spanish involves a complicated method for conjugating verbs, teachers force new students to memorize that method, a Herculean task for the beginner. To make things even harder, they must memorize each conjugation for each verb’s “person” when an irregular verb is involved. And, as we all know by now, the most-used verbs are almost always irregular.
Basic “Talk like a Hoosier Pirate” Spanish Method
“Talk like a Hoosier Pirate” Spanish requires zero conjugation. The method is simplicity itself:
Memorize the 100 most-used nouns and verbs.
Use only infinitives.
When speaking in the past, say “Ayer” before the sentence.
When speaking in the future, say “Mañana” before the sentence.
“Talk like a Hoosier Pirate” Spanish students can learn a few verb infinitives and a few nouns the first session, and speak to their new gardener that very day. You are not fooling your listeners; they are well aware that your Spanish is awful. But you will be able to communicate quite a few ideas, and that’s the whole point.
The fundamental basis of “Talk like a Hoosier Pirate” Spanish is to accumulate enough rudimentary Spanish to get through your first year in Mexico. That way, instead of running for the hills, you will be motivated to go to a real Spanish course later, without panicking, and master the real stuff.
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