Teaching the Teacher

I’ve continued to take my Skype-based Spanish class.  And I still love it.  I try to do two hours a week, but I wish I could do three.  I have two instructors now.  Of course there is still Martín (and yes, I still have a bit of a crush on him), but Gustavo has become a regular teacher, too.  Even though Martín’s schedule has gone back to normal, I’ve kept booking lessons with Gustavo because I’ve gotten used to him.  I like him, and I actually talk a lot more easily with him than I do with Martín (pesky crush keeps tying my tongue!).

So last night I’m online with Gustavo and the verb ‘rodar’ came up.  ‘Rodar’ means ‘to roll.’  It’s actually not a word I’ve ever had to use in Spanish.  I mean, how many times does it come up for me even in English?  It’s one of those ‘verbos de cambio’ which means its form changes when you conjugate it.  In the case of rodar, it means the ‘o’ changes to ‘ue’ when you use it.  So you would say ‘ello rueda’ instead of ‘ello roda’ … and thus ends our Spanish lesson for the day.

Gustavo asked me about the word ‘roll’ in English, whether or not it had other uses.  And I thought of things like rolling up a sleeping bag (yeah, as if I know how to say ‘sleeping bag’ in Spanish!), and rolling over my TDA into my 401K (because my vocabulary of finance is just as solid as my camping vocabulary).  He thought of ‘rock and roll,’ which was kind of cute because he then started to go on and on about how much he likes ‘classical rock and roll’ like Bill Haley and the Comets.  No, I’m serious.  How long’s it been since you thought of Bill Haley and the Comets?

Then I thought of my students and thought of another use for ‘roll’ that made  me laugh.  As is true for many teachers (most? all?), one of the things I love about teaching is that I learn as much from my students as I hope they learn from me.  Well, last night I got to teach Gustavo something.  We spent a good fifteen minutes discussing the very useful phrase: This is how I roll.  He doesn’t speak very much English, so he asked me for a literal translation: “Este es la manera en la que yo ruedo,” was the best I could do.  My favorite was Gustavo saying it a few times in English, very slowly at first, then repeating it in Spanish then trying it again in English.  Very adorable.  I admitted that this isn’t a thing I would ever say, that it’s not the way I talk (in fact, I said it more times last night than I probably will in the whole of my life), but he was happy with it.  He says no one has heard this in Guatemala, and he’s going to start saying it.  I just hope that means he’ll be saying it in English!


Yes, of course I found it on YouTube.  And in case you’d forgotten that big, clunky plaids used to be way cool, or wondered from whom Pee Wee Herman took his fashion tips …


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