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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

No Hablo Espanol?

No Hablo Espanol?

My school of higher education required two years of a foreign language in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  Why two years of studying a language that I could only stumble through would be of use to me in the years to come, I still do not understand.  Learning to read and write in proper English made sense.  Taking a semester in Logic was logical.  A year of studying different religions and cultures was probably a worthwhile exercise.

The foreign language thing did not make sense to me, but then neither did a semester of calculus (Not your engineering major’s calculus, but calculus light.)  I still don’t even know what calculus is.  I think it is some kind of math which involves deriving an actual number from a formula which contains only letters…and yet I passed with a high “D.”

If I was going to study a foreign language I decided to not study Latin, the language I studied in High School.  I already knew “Tempus fugit,” and “Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est" and that was hardly ever  useful.  I was told that many languages used Latin as their base and everyone should learn Latin, but I knew that was a crock.  Latin to people in my day was today’s students cursive; nice to know, but worthless.

Anyway, if I had to study a language I decided to study a language that lots of people spoke.  I decided to study Spanish.

I passed the first year of Spanish with a “D.” I still don’t really understand Spanish.  I think it is some kind of language where you have to derive an actual number from a formula which contains only letters.  Whatever, one year down, one year to go.

Spanish II was even harder than Spanish I and was made even more difficult because the instructor, Senior Arboleda, a short balding gay man, hated me.  He hated me with a passion.  I’m not sure why he hated me, but from day one he hated me.  What made it even worse was Senior Arboleda spoke Castilian Spanish, a strange dialect which can turn a straight man gay.  In Castilian senior is not senior, it is thenior.  Esta is ethta, Espaniol is Ethpaniol and so on.

I had enough trouble with Spanish, Thpanith was way too difficult.

On my midterm exam I managed a 57.  Senior Arboleda motioned me to see him after class.

“Thenior Hagy, you do not theem to underthtand thith language.  I mutht they, if you ethsthudied eight hourth a day for the retht of thith year I do not believe you could path thith courth.”

I agreed.  I did not go back to another class, I did not take another test and I accepted my “F” without further effort.  I could have simply dropped the course, taken and incomplete and avoided an “F” but unfortunately I did not know that. 

In order to eventually graduate I still needed that final year of Spanish.  That was never going to happen in Thenior Arboleda’th clath, so instead I enrolled in summer school at Rutgers.

Smart people do not take summer school.  Summer school is for dumb kids who need credits that they could never earn in competition with intelligent students. 

Thank you summer school.

At every class in summer school we learned to interpret ten sentences in Spanish.   We had ten sentences in English and had to be able to recite or write them in Spanish.  Each week we had a test which involved those exact ten sentences.  

Even I could memorize ten sentences a week. 

Our final grade was based upon those weekly tests, 50%, and a final exam, 50%.  The final exam simply consisted of knowing the same sentences we learned each week. 

In order for my school to accept the summer school credits, I had to get a “B.”  My final summer school grade was a “B.”

Grasias summer school. 

Adioth Thenior Arboleda.


  1. I still have that dream sometimes about going to take a test in a class I never attended and the class is always a Spanish class.

  2. I have my BS in Business Management and never took a foreign language class. Thank goodness for that. I took a ton of math though.

    I love that you fulfilled this obligation with summer school. That rocks. I don't think I'd like that Senior Arboleda.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  3. i never took foreign language studies. i wish i knew spanish - would come in handy in texas.

  4. We had to take French or Spanish in high school in order to graduate. I took my C- with joy and vowed never again.

  5. Language can be very difficult for some can calculus. I am done with school, thank goodness.

  6. I have long wished I could be fluent in Spanish, French, Italian and German but I hardly even manage English!

  7. I managed to get through Spanish I and II in middle school (Jr. High, back then and grades 6-9). I DID NOT sign up for Spanish III upon entry to high school (10th grade), therefore, I didn't get the "smart kid" diploma. My story is not as bad as yours, but...
    Anyway, ironically, I'm trying to learn Spanish now. Got some old tapes from years ago, a phrase-a-day calendar, etc. My goal is 5 years. One of those years is almost over and I haven't gotten too far. Oh well.
    Your memory of Castilian speaking Thenior is Funny and so is the summer school story. My summer school classes were a couple courses of Intermediate Accounting and something else that I don't remember.
    Speaking of Thenior - Is that a hard G or soft G in your last name? :)

  8. I took French in HS and French III in college to satisfy the requirement. I got through with a lovely hand illustrated poster of the Eiffel Tower. My effort has paid off with occasional crossword puzzle answers.
    Merci, Eiffel Tower.

  9. Oh my goodness. I got my last semester of Italian in the exact manner!

  10. So summer school is just for the dumb kids? If I'd known that 40 years ago I could have just partied during the fall/spring semesters and enrolled full time in summer school. Who knew? ;)


  11. My experience is that I had a Spanish teacher in HS who told us we didn't want to learn Castilian Spanish because that's not what they speak in Mexico.
    We only needed to learn Castilian Spanish if we were going to Peru.
    Also, though I still remember a lot of what I learned, I learned it too slowly so I hardly understand the spoken language.
    But, I can count to a hundred like gangbusters.
    That comes in handy in the retail business because Spanish speakers who do not understand English too well will pay the right amount for stuff if you tell them how much it is in their own language.
    Not only that but they become loyal customers.

  12. French (two years) was required for an English degree from my college. That landed me in the army because I dropped rather than fail and thus lost my student deferment. It also delayed my graduation by several years while I waited for the head of the English department to die or retire so she would be replaced by someone who didn't see the logic of the requirement. Fortunately, I was never required to learn calculus for anything.

  13. I studied 3 years of Spanish at university and got almost fluent. I used it a few years later traveling through Spain. But I always found understanding spoken speech quote difficult. There's not a lot of inflection in Spanish so the words all run together.
    Cut to now, and I can't remember or speak it at all!
    Tho much for Thpanith.

  14. Your story of Thenior Arboleda made me laugh...

    I started learning English in 5th grade, Latin in 7th, followed by French and Italian in 9th and 10th (if I remember correctly). I don't remember much French or Italian since they were electives. Latin was a tremendous asset when many years later, in college here in the U.S., I took medical terminology.

    On my last job, I worked with a lot of admins who were proofreading reports. They all came to me when it came to questions about grammar.

    Most people in Germany going to college speak at least two foreign languages. I wish I knew Spanish...

  15. I rode the wave ahead of the language requirements. Slid by just a year ahead in high school, junior college, and college just before the hammer came down.

    I did, however, learn some unfortunate German at work from a co-worker. Unfortunate in that I learned a lot of words but no syntax. We referred to it as pig-german but I suspect it was closer to gibberish.

  16. Congrats on your B. Did you send a thank you letter to Thenior Aboleda and write in those ten sentences? That would've been cool.

  17. I stuck with Latin in college; what a mistake and waste of time.

  18. I kind of wish someone or some institution had forced me to learn a foreign language somewhere along the line. My only foreign language? Pig Latin... forced upon me by my older sister.

  19. Michigan is trying to do away with the two year language requirement.

    That was hilariouth.

  20. Wow you stirred up a thaggering amount of thinthere comments Thir Cranky!

  21. Lots of funny comments!! Thanks guys, I love it.

  22. My classroom is next door to the Spanish teacher. She's a real Spanish teacher. From Spain. She does not take kindly to being called a Mexican, even in jest, by her students.

    Two years ago we ordered supper from a Mexican restaurant on Parent Conference night. She went to pick up our order. When she returned, we discovered two items were wrong. She got on the phone with them in an attempt to straighten out the problem. I don't speak Spanish, but I know a heated discussion when I hear one.

    Apparently she told them to deliver FREE replacements for the wrong items, even though they do not deliver. They told her they were too busy, and could not spare anyone to drive ten miles to our school. She told them they were lying, because she had just been there, and 20 of them were standing around doing nothing. I'm sure she must have said something else. She has been known to let some colorful English language slip in the classroom.

    The order arrived within 20 minutes.

  23. Good you figures out a way to get your requirements in and avoid the Thenior! One day I am going to learn Spanish since I live 10 miles away from the Mexican bortder and everyone speaks Spanish here. Just once when I am out walking and walk by a couple speaking Spanish, I would love to know if they are talking about me :)


  24. A win is a win in my book. The B is a win.

    I had years of Spanish, and never learned to really speak the language. I should have skipped the classes and gone for immersion learning by spending 6 months in a Spanish speaking country. Would have been a lot cheaper too.

  25. Thpanith? Ethpaniol?
    That cracks me up!
    I like the sound of Spanish, but I don't speak anything but English.