Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Language lessons.

The summer before last, my father went on a trip to Costa Rica all by himself. It was a study abroad program for adults, of sorts, and he did it so he could practice his Spanish. (And also to have an adventure.)

Right before he left, I remember him telling me his daily itinerary.  "First," he said, "I attend a Spanish language intensive class in the morning, and it lasts until early afternoon.  And then," pausing for emphasis, "I have the option to sign up for extra afternoon practice.  Which I DID."  I was impressed.

"And then," dramatic flourish, "I go home to my host family, where we talk about our day using more Spanish!" He was truly thrilled.

One of the most wonderful things about my father is that his job puts him into contact with many ESL individuals.  He is an attorney in San Antonio who works largely with the Hispanic community, and while he's long spoken just a bit of Spanish with them, this trip would imbue him with more.  Much more.

My dad can now hold his own with native Spanish speakers, and while you wouldn't necessarily want him to direct your next heart surgery, you could certainly rely on him to get your Mexican food order right.  To tell you where the nearest bathroom is.  It all comes out in his twangy Dallas accent of course, but it's Spanish alright.  The real deal.

So when my friend Margaret told me recently that she and her language teacher friends were starting up a Spanish and French school here in town, my ears immediately perked up.  "Maybe I'll finally learn Spanish once and for all," I thought.  I, like many Texans, possess only the faintest traces of Spanish fluency.  But I think I would be more motivated in a setting like this school.

Freestyle Language Center is pretty darling.  Every Saturday morning, they host "Coffee and Croissants," which is a little table for breakfast from La Boite, and French conversation.  I peeked in last Saturday.

Elizabeth and Lilia - the French teacher and Spanish teacher at Freestyle - showed me around their sweet space.  Every Friday night they host Foreign Film Night (which I have already deemed a future Date Night for husband and I), Lilia teaches cooking classes (in Spanish!) and next year, they are going to start offering ESL, too.

Elizabeth told me, "all of us wanted to teach language and culture in a different way than we had been from the university setting.  We wanted to do it in a relevant, fun, and social way."  Which is why, on top of their basic core classes, the ladies host multiple drop-ins (like Coffee and Croissants) each week, as well as specialized language courses, like French business and literature, and Spanish medical and legal.

Me, calmly plotting to steal this couch.

Can I tell you a secret?  The property where this is the same property where Ross and I got married.  It's in a little school next to a big mansion (the Perry Mansion) in the middle of Hyde Park - my Hyde Park - and we exchanged vows on the mansion's back patio.

Here is a picture of a wild, Grey Gardens-esque bridge on that property.

During Coffee and Croissants on Saturday morning, the snatches of French I heard in the air made me so nostalgic.  I've only been to France twice, but the last time, it was to Paris.  And my traveling partner?  My dad.

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