Posted on by Ulrike S. Rettig

My Rosetta Stone Blog - 5 Looking For Real Communication

Latin American Spanish:  Level 1 - Unit 1 - Lesson 5  Milestone

Here we have a situation, a story,and a conversation.  

A series of pictures creates the situation: "You" are walking in the woods with your dog and you come across a young couple sitting at their solitary camping spot.

The pictures continue to show a little story: "You" and your dog walking up to the young couple. You ask them questions and they ask you questions (7 in all). So far so good. However, neither the questions nor the answers are really part of a natural conversation. They are all artificial "textbook" questions and answers.

Here's what's going on:

"You" approach the young couple, your dog runs ahead.  The man asks: "Do you have a dog?" A picture of the dog prompts you to guess the answer "Yes, I have a dog."

The next picture shows the woman inviting "you" to sit down. On her lap is a book. Above the picture, you see an empty box for the question, and a box with the answer "I'm reading." The question that you are supposed to ask/guess is "What are you doing?

"You" see a thermos standing on the ground, and you see the answer "That is coffee." The question you're supposed to guess is "What is that?"

The next 3 interactions are set up in a similar fashion: "Do you have a cup? "Yes, I have a cup." -  "What do you have?"  "I have bread." -  "What do you have?"  "We have apples."

In the last scene, we see that the dog has gotten hold of some bread and starts eating it. The young woman asks "What is the dog doing?" The answer you're supposed to say/guess is "The dog is eating." Then everyone says good-bye.

I'm beginning to understand the limitations of teaching adults a language without giving them some explanations and clarifications of the finer points. Asking and saying what is totally obvious is not real communication.

The first time I went over this milestone-lesson, I had trouble guessing the right questions and answers. By the third time around, I got a perfect score. But I don't expect to ever be engaged in this kind of conversation, in any language.

What's next? Blog #6 Grammar Drill Driven Language Learning