My host parents always do their best to make me feel comfortable. For example, they invite me to all family activities, offer me all sorts of food, and listen patiently when I tell them a story that takes 5 minutes when, for an adept Spanish speaker, the story would only take 45 seconds. What I appreciate the most, however, is when they try to speak English. ¨Try¨is the operative word.
Between my Mom, Dad, and Sister, my Mom knows the most English. She can construct basic sentences and imitate pronunciation. When I help them with English, my Mom also tries to teach. Sometimes she is spot on with pronunciation, sometimes… not so much. My sister hides her English. She seems to know some phrases, but almost never says them if front of me. Maybe she is embarrassed. I don´t know how she can be embarrassed, though, considering she always listens to me vomiting a combination of Spanglish and nonsense. Which brings me to my Dad…
Papi is the worst at English, but, ironically, tries to speak it the most. When he gets home from driving, he greets me with ¨¿Cómo le how are you?¨ I always answer with ¨Muy well, ¿and you?¨ His favorite word is ¨delicious,¨ but he also says my love, let´s go, very good, and other short phrases. He has a lot of trouble distinguishing ¨sh¨and ¨ch,¨ as well as making the English ¨r¨ sound. For example, tree and three sound exactly the same when he says it.
The other night at dinner we were having a somewhat extended English lesson. Papi was really putting on an impressive show. He counted all the way to 26. I taught him how to say ¨I drove 16 hours.¨ We probably spent 10 minutes on that phrase alone. Next, he started naming random objects in the room. Window, table, plate, flower. He then attempted, bless him, ¨The flower is purple.¨ It came out ¨Dee flow´r ees perpoo.¨ My Mom chastised him about ¨perpoo¨ to no avail. After 6 or 7 tries, he still wasn´t getting it. My Mom threw her hands in the air and said that she was giving up. Papi turned to me, an ornery twinkle in his eye. Giggling like a child, he said, ¨Teacher is bad.¨
Now I feel a little better about my Spanish. And here is the family! Left is my sister María Fernanda, (aka Fer, Nana, Mary, Princess, and Meme.) Middle is my dad Raúl (aka Negro, Dadi, Papi, and Gordo.) Right is my mom Gera (aka Mami, Gordis, Negris, Negra, and Mam.) On a side note, Papi always looks derpy in pictures. As soon as you aim a camera at him, he takes on the expression of an 8 year old confronted with quantum physics.