Posted on by Ulrike S. Rettig

My Rosetta Stone Blog - 4 Structure Is Not Everything

Latin American Spanish:  Level 1 - Unit 1 - Core Lessons  3 & 4

Things got really busy, and I became sidetracked from my language learning schedule. Once I was ready to go back, I had to re-motivate myself. For this, a structured program is definitely a good thing. It was nice to just pick up from where I had left off.

New Vocabulary for these two lessons include (all through pictures): 6 basic colors; snake, rose, chick, panda, geese, sun, moon, flower, sky; teacher, police, doctor, student, cowboys; door, cell phones, tennis balls, bed, keys, chair, plates, cups, chair; shoes, skirt, pants, dress, hat, and a few more.

I confess, I did not do all the individual exercises in the units, there was too much of the same. But I did go through the grammar until I understood it. These are the basic Grammar points covered:

  • Matching colors with singular and plural (masculine/feminine) nouns.
  • Identifying numbers (1 to 6) with nouns (5 fish, 3 cell phones, 4 chairs, etc.)
  • Learning to say: "There are X items" and to ask: "How many X?" "What is this?" "Who is doing X?"

It's nice to start learning some simple expressions. They are taught through "pattern imitation" which works well at this level: You see and hear a phrase, then you identify a similar phrase that has a slightly different content. Once you've understood the question "How many geese are there?", you can identify the question "How many snakes are there?"

However, I did notice that there may be limitations to the method: A picture of running horses tells me: "The horses run." (Los caballos corren.) The next picture shows me 1 horse running, and it tells me: "The horse is running." (El caballo está corriendo.) From the two pictures, I cannot figure out why they use two different verb forms ("run" versus "is running"). Since Spanish is rich in verb forms and verb tenses, I hope that these differences will be explained later.

I'm still not crazy about most of the vocabulary that I'm learning. I'm taking a trip to Spain in a few months- that's why I'm learning Spanish. I want to be able to converse with people there. So far the vocabulary I'm learning in this program is disjointed and not relevant. I may have to schedule my trip for May 2012 and the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament. There, I'll be able to use my new sentence: "There are three yellow tennis balls."

Having a structured learning program is good because it saves time. The downside of a structured program is that you are locked into its limitations.

What's next? Blog #5 Looking for Real Communication