So as disappointed as I was by the last attempt at Spanish, I sucked it up and tried again tonight and it was awesome. What a contrast! Short version ends here. Looooong version (that took way longer to type than to live ;) below.
I was targeting the "instant tutoring" again, which limits your choice of instructors to those online at that moment; in my case, there were seven, one of whom was the one I spoke with the previous time. Two of the six remaining options were designated "professional teachers" -- the main difference being certification (although to put this in perspective, by their rules I qualify as a professional teacher too -- thanks CELTA ;) -- there's nothing about actual experience required...
Regardless, I figured I could use pro help and while prices are more, they're still significantly less than I'd expect to pay for qualified teaching around here (convenient as I can't currently afford said qualified teaching here -- AND I'd have to leave my lovely office to get it. All bad really.) So that narrowed my choice to two. Took a quick look at both profiles. One had significantly more experience and a higher degree of English, so I started there. Looking at his availability though (since I do actually want to find a coach I can work with for a bit) was a bit off-putting as he didn't have any times in his schedule that would work for me. Booo. But he was online, so I fired off a message asking if this was a normal time for him to be on and the schedule was maybe out of date?
While waiting for a response I went to the other guy's page -- his video really caught my attention. For one thing, he put some effort into it -- it had a real introduction rather than just a talking head. Second thing that appealed to me, he spoke both in Spanish and English on the video, AND the Spanish was slow enough that much of it I could understand, and that that was beyond me at least was enunciated clearly enough that I could pick up individual words. The English was also entirely reasonable. Could've been reading a script of course, but worth a try. So still having not heard back from guy one (and by this time way more interested in the second one) I looked at his teaching schedule -- and it's basically every weekday evening from 6pm-1am and on Sundays during the day. Ummm perfect.
With that in mind I sent him an instant lesson request and explained as I had last time that the entirety of my experience was due to DuoLingo and online training and that I really wanted to learn to speak but was starting pretty much from scratch. First obvious change - lesson request was accepted within seconds and we were connected. Second obvious change -- he had his video turned on rather than just a picture. Much as I don't love video, I've learned from work how helpful it can be in certain situations so I appreciated it.
So we did the "hi, how are you?" part of the conversation and then he sent me a file with a lesson plan. On first glance it looked like it might be a little basic even for me, but figured I'd go along with it and see. But it was actually awesome. He walked me through some basics (that I actually already knew but no worries) with useful phrases. I had a pretty good clue here that he actually *is* a teacher and not someone who collects certifications *cough* in that his phrases included both the correct pronunciation and what you'd actually hear. It was something I'd never considered until I was taught to teach English but we do, indeed, regularly drop syllables in speech that we include in writing. When was the last time you pronounced all of "Wednesday" (wendsday) or even "business" (biznes)? Similarly we slur multiple words together all the time. "Have" is one of the worst for those -- I'd've, she'd've. Or change them all together: want to = wanna. If you're just learning, that's really hard to deal with. And in my little cheat sheet, it was called out for me -- both the correct version as you'd see written or in formal speech and what you'd actually hear in normal conversation.
So this simple but impressive intro was followed with two scripted conversations which we read. This was actually super helpful as it allowed me to focus on pronunciation and flow rather than trying to think of words. And one of the conversations I knew what I was saying but the other one I didn't have a clue *g* Fortunately he also included translations of both. Then we moved on to unscripted conversation where he helped me fill in blanks that were beyond me. His English was solid and he was easily able to translate the things I asked (incl everything the other guy couldn't the other day) so that was super helpful. The other thing he did that I appreciated was he spoke to me consistently in Spanish. Slow (and presumably simplified) Spanish to be sure, and he would translate for me if I really didn't get it, but he at least gave me a shot at figuring it out on my own. Which is kinda the whole point of this exercise. So I was happy about that.
While my last lesson I was constantly watching the clock waiting for it to be over; this one I didn't even notice we'd run out of time till he told me. I figure that's a good sign :) So I think I'll keep working with this one for a bit; try to get some sort of regular cadence going to lessons. I figure an indoor challenge is a good idea for winter ;-P Doesn't help the fitness issue at all, but should help keep my little mind busy.
Oh and I now have four songs on my Spanish playlist -- hahaha moving up in the world ;) I'm finding it fascinating how my brain interprets. When I really don't know what's going on, it substitutes English words that sound vaguely like what's being said in Spanish. Once it was actually right *g* But that was only cause in that case the Spanish words were nearly identical to the same in English. Have to get lucky occasionally :) And the other thing that's really cool, is what was just a fast jumble of incomprehensible words is starting to slow down in my head so I can pick out individual words (whether or not I know what they mean is a different challenge). It amuses me when my brain finally figures out where to insert spaces so that we have actual words ratherthanjustamumbledjumbleofsounds.