D Day

May. 7th, 2008 01:20 pm
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Chibi Wee!chester Ready for School)
I'll be heading out the door shortly for my 2 hour Spanish final involving lots and lots of grammar. I do okay when I'm dealing with one tense at a time, but I get all confused when I have to work with multiple tenses at once. I'm looking forward to it all being over.

Think positive thoughts for me. I could use all the help I can get.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Sam by Candlelight)
Q. What's worse than an exam on the preterite tense, or an exam on the imperfect tense?

A. An exam on the preterite tense and the imperfect tense that involves combining both tenses in multiple essays on topics I don't have anything to say about in English.

The stupid thing is that I know when to use each tense and I know the endings of each tense, but when I try to write with them, I keep mixing them up (using the third person singular ending of the preterite tense when I meant to use the third person singular ending of the imperfect tense, and that sort of thing). I don't know why I can't keep the two tenses separate in my head, but it's been a real problem for me. Based on the test grades, I'm not the only one. I just got my first B on a test since I started studying Spanish again. Granted, it was a high B (88%), but I'm still disappointed because most of the mistakes I made were due to mixing up my tenses when I should know better.

And we're learning two more verb tenses in this chapter.

the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Bookstack)
Tonight was the first class for my second semester of Spanish. I registered for this particular class period because my instructor from last semester was teaching it, and because my study partner from last semester had also registered for it. At class tonight, however, I found out that my previous instructor had resigned, and my study partner was no longer in the class. Bummer.

My new instructor is from Mexico. This is a good thing in that I'll get more practice listening to the accent of a native speaker. This is a bad thing in that I have a hard enough time trying to figure out what she's saying in Spanish; struggling to figure out what she's saying in English too is not helpful.

My new classroom isn't in the basement this time, so it's actually been painted and is reasonably clean. Unfortunately, it's also very small and has no air circulation. I'm not particularly claustrophobic, but it was making me uncomfortable anyway.

I seriously considered transferring to the class of an instructor who substitute taught for my last class. I liked him a lot, but he's teaching a 7:00-9:00 class. The 7:00-9:00 class almost killed me with sleep deprivation last semester, which is why I switched to the 5:00-7:00 class I'm in now. I'm in the only 5:00-7:00 class, so I can either take a class from an instructor I like in a time slot that will make me crazy, or I can take a class in a time slot I like from an instructor that will make me crazy. I guess I'll just stick it out and see what happens.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Bookstack)
No, not the end of the world, just the end of the semester. I have turned in my last worksheet, completed my last online exercise, and taken my last chapter test. All that's left is the final, which is a week from today. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I have a week to study for it. I'd almost rather get it over with.

I remain blown away by how well I'm doing. I suck at foreign languages, but I've been doing really well in this class. I'll be continuing on next semester, and the good news is that my regular study partner and I signed up for the same class. Here's hoping next semester goes as well as this one did.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Kaboom!)
I'm in the middle of a truly hellish string of exams in my Spanish class. A week ago Monday, we had a standardized reading comprehension test (which still counts toward our grade) and a pop quiz on the chapter. Last Wednesday, we had the chapter test. Last Monday, we had a standardized listening comprehension test. Tonight was the only night free of exams, so the instructor attempted to cram almost an entire chapter into the lecture. Next Monday, we have a writing proficiency exam (we don't know the topic, or even what tense it'll be in) and probably a pop quiz on the chapter. Next Wednesday is the chapter test. The class period after that is the final.

And tonight, one of the students who regularly whines about how she can't possibly be expected to do the homework or know the material threw an actual tantrum because she couldn't understand the lecture (everything the instructor was saying was in our assigned textbook reading for the class session, in English, with charts, which she would've known had she done the homework). She stomped out in a huff in the middle of class and didn't come back. There really was an actual huff, and stomping, and she slammed the door on her way out. ::boggles::

I can't believe there are only two weeks left in the semester.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Bookstack)
I've posted a couple of rants lately about how much I hate working in assigned groups in my Spanish class. Somehow, I always get assigned to someone who has no idea what she's doing and is far more interested in giving me excuses about why she doesn't know the material than in doing the assignment. Anyway, I thought it was only fair to also post when a group exercise went well.

Tonight, we had an unusual class. We were supposed to work on object pronouns some more, then have an in-class review next Monday before the test. Well, my instructor wasn't feeling well, so we did some object pronoun exercises from the textbook for half an hour, then she handed out a printout of the review exercises and dismissed the class. We could either take the review exercises home and work on them on our own, or we could go into the classroom next door (the instructor had to lock our classroom because there's a computer in it) and work on them together. They're due as a regular homework assignment on Monday. Well, K, who sits next to me and who I prefer to work with because she comes to class prepared and knows the material, and I looked at each other at the same time and said, "Do you want to go next door?" Almost the entire class ended up in there. K and I worked on the exercises by ourselves first, asking each other questions as necessary, then we compared answers and corrected each other's mistakes. We finished in half an hour and were the first ones to leave. Bottom line? My homework for Monday is done, I'm reasonably sure it's done well because K caught some mistakes I made, and I got out of class an hour early. \0/

This working in groups thing isn't always bad.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Bookstack)
Spanish grammar is going to be the death of me. First was the discovery that double negatives are grammatically correct in Spanish. It took a lot of work to overcome the English programming that double negatives are wrong before I was able to write them semi-comfortably. Then came the preterite tense, where there are more verbs that are exceptions to the rules than there are those that follow the rules. I never thought I was going to be able to get those down in time for the test. I still have trouble with them.

Now we're working on object pronouns. That doesn't sound hard, does it? Sentence structure is fairly simple: Subject Verb Object, right? Well, yes, but in Spanish, you can also have Object Verb Subject and (this one kills me) Subject Object Verb. I feel like I'm trying to work one of those sliding tile puzzles where you have to put the numbers in order. First, I have to reorder the words so they make sense to me, and then I get to figure out what they mean.

I also had two unpleasant surprises this week. In all our previous units, our worksheets were due on the day of the chapter test, which is next Monday. Yesterday, I found out that the worksheets for this unit are due tomorrow. So much for the basking in Heroes squee I had planned for this evening. Also, in all our previous units, we had a pop quiz at the end of the last class before the test, so I was expecting a quiz tomorrow night. We had it last night, instead. Oops. I was not expecting it at all, but I think I did reasonably well. I know I got two answers wrong for sure, but I'm also sure that I got both of the extra credit questions right, so hopefully those will balance each other out.

I would be counting down the days until the end of the semester, except I have a major exam every class period but one between Thanksgiving and the end of the term. I'm contemplating sleeping through the first half of January.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Pom-Pom)
The last chapter in my Spanish class has been all about the preterite tense. It was driving me crazy. For some reason, the verb endings were just not sticking in my head. We had the test on it last Monday. As usual, the test was preceded by a review. While we were doing the review questions, the instructor also graded our worksheets. Well, I made more mistakes on the worksheets than I ever have before. I was also completely teh fail at the review exercises; seriously, I got almost all of them wrong (fortunately, they don't count towards our grades). Needless to say, I was not overflowing with confidence when the test started.

Tonight, we got the tests back. I only got one question wrong and I got all three extra credit questions right (for the first time) for a grand total of 39 out of 37 points. How the heck did that happen?! I couldn't get anything right not ten minutes before the test started. Conversely, there's a girl who sits next to me who nails every question on the review exercises, then scores less than I do on the test every single time. Go fig.

I won't argue with the test results, but it would just be a lot less stressful on me if I knew for certain how my brain was going to behave on any given day.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Kaboom!)
I noticed I haven't written about my Spanish class in awhile, and it's also been awhile since I've written a rant, so I thought why not kill two birds with one stone?

I had a another test last week, and as usual, the instructor put up some PowerPoint slides with review questions on them that we were allowed to work on in groups before the test. The first slide had twelve questions on it and we were given five minutes to complete them. Now, I normally work with K (she sits next to me and we work well together), but this time we were assigned to groups of four, so I was working with three other people I hadn't worked with before. As soon as the review questions went up, I asked if everybody thought my first answer was right. I was met by a collective blank stare, followed by a litany of reasons why none of them could possibly be expected to know the material half an hour before the test on it. My favorite was, "I work full time," as if I don't. When the instructor called the two minute warning, we were still on question one because they hadn't finished giving me their excuses yet. I finally tuned them out and did all the questions by myself. Then they got mad at me for not including them. Which I had tried to do, but they were too busy telling me why they didn't know the material to participate.

Last Monday, I got assigned to work with a guy in my class that I usually try to avoid because he rarely shows up, mouths off when he does, and thinks he should be getting an A by virtue of his personality. We were supposed to ask each other questions in Spanish about what the other had done the previous weekend, then write a paragraph in Spanish about what our partner had done. Well, Z didn't understand any of the questions I asked him in Spanish, so he decided we should just give each other five sentences in Spanish and turn it into a paragraph. He chose five sentences at random from a worksheet we'd just done, leaving me to try to write a coherent paragraph out of sentences like, "Last weekend, I spent a lot of money on books this semester," and "Yesterday, I went to Madrid for two days." When I pulled out my notes to check the spelling of one of the verbs, he was shocked. "You take notes? Every class?" I guess that explains why he's failing.

Now, I know that some people just aren't good at foreign languages. I happen to be one of those people, so I've been busting my butt to try and stay on top of the material. I go to class, take notes, do the homework, and study for the tests. What I don't understand is the people who don't even try--the ones who rarely come to class, don't do the readings or homework, and who don't study, then are mystified as to why they're getting bad grades. Okay, I can kind of understand it for the kids who are traditional students and are required to take a foreign language when they don't really want to, but what about the adults in the class? Between course fees and books, that class is about $600 per semester. Why on earth would you shell out almost $600 for a class, and then not even try to learn something from it? Trying and not getting it is one thing, but to not even try? Why bother taking the class in the first place?


Oct. 1st, 2007 09:40 pm
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Pom-Pom)
I haven't been writing much about my adventures in Spanish class lately, but I've certainly been having them. Last Monday, we had a two hour test. Yes, two whole hours. The first hour was a standard fill-in-the-blank, true/false, multiple choice test, and the second hour was an essay on an assigned topic. I've spent the last week dreading getting the test back. There was a huge listening section where the instructor read a whole paragraph and we had to answer questions based on what she said. They were fill-in-the-blank questions, so there was no faking it. She lost me somewhere in the third sentence and I never caught up, so I was sure I'd blown the entire listening section, which took up the entire first page of the test and was worth a ton of points. I've been bracing myself all week for a truly horrendous score. Well, we got the tests back tonight. I lost two half points for rookie verb conjugation mistakes and that's it! I also got two out of three extra credit questions right, so I wound up scoring 41 out of 40 points. ::dies and is dead:: I think the only reason I made the two stupid verb conjugation mistakes is because I was still panicking over the listening section (it was the first part of the test).

We still haven't gotten the essays back. I think I was reasonably grammatically correct, but I don't know what she was looking for in terms of actual writing (organization of information, transitional elements, word flow, etc.), so I really have no idea how I did. I'll have to chalk this one up to a learning experience so that I know what she's looking for next time we have an essay test.

Woo Hoo!!!

Sep. 10th, 2007 09:33 pm
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Pom-Pom)
I just got my first writing assignment and first test back in my Spanish class. I got 3 out of 3 points on the writing assignment and 30 out of 30 points on the test, plus 2 out of 3 extra credit points!

::runs around shrieking::

Seriously, you have no idea how huge this is. I barely passed high school Spanish. In fact, the only reason I passed high school Spanish was that if I failed, I'd have to repeat the class and my Spanish teacher never wanted to see me again. I never in a million billion years thought I could do this well in a foreign language class.

::does Snoopy dance::

I wish I could find my high school Spanish teacher and show him this test just to watch him faint.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Chibi Sam/Books OTP)
We had a pop quiz in my last Spanish class. I wound up doing better than I thought I would: 4 out of 4 points, plus 1 out of 2 extra credit points.

Tonight was the first big exam. We were told we were going to spend the first hour of class reviewing the material. Old school me thought the instructor was going to go over everything we'd learned so far. Instead, we got a quiz. There were 4 PowerPoint slides with questions on them. We got 3 minutes per slide to write down our answers on scratch paper, then we got into groups and spent 5 minutes per slide comparing answers and asking the instructor questions. It wasn't what I was expecting, but it turned out to be a good thing. For one thing, I totally screwed up one section of the quiz and was able to get that part straight in my head before the test, where it turned up again. For another thing, I think taking a little test that didn't count for anything first flipped a test taking switch in my brain or something, because by the time we started the real test, I wasn't nervous anymore and I was remembering all kinds of things I'd been having trouble with. I think I did pretty well on the test. At least, there was no point at which I was frozen in panic because I didn't recognize or couldn't remember something. The only part that I thought wasn't fair was the question that asked how old I was. We'd only learned the numbers up to 30, and I'm...older than that.

This class is going so much faster than what I'm used to. I'm really amazed at how much I've learned in a really short time. At this point in my college Russian and high school Spanish classes, we'd only covered the alphabet, a couple of simple common nouns, and one verb. Tonight, I got to write about which classes I was taking, whether I liked them or not, how many credit hours I had, where I was from, what I'm like, and then fill in the missing half of an entire conversation, all in complete sentences in Spanish. So far, I'm finding this a much more positive experience than my previous foreign language classes.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Bookstack)
I had my first Spanish class tonight. So far, so good, but that's because all we did was go over the syllabus. I'm very pleased that the incomprehensible workbooks of my youth have been replaced by online quizzes. I've taken an online class before, and I like the online quiz structure and the immediate feedback. Learning new software is really easy for me (much easier than learning Spanish). I'm also pleased that I'm not the oldest person in the class. There are at least 4 other grown-ups there. :-)

The classroom itself is horrible. It's very tiny, unventilated, and dirty, and it has those little tiny chairs with a built in desk surface about the size of a sheet of looseleaf paper. And there were fruit flies. Yuck.

The teacher was very approachable, so I stayed after class to ask her about some things that were making me nervous. She was able to give me some tips for dealing with things that have been a problem for me in the past when I've taken language classes. She also said that there will be only one oral exam at the end of the semester and it'll be given one on one, not in front of the class. \0/

We'll see how this goes.
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Kaboom!)
I start Spanish classes at the local community college tomorrow. Which means that tonight, I get to have an 'OMG, I haven't sat in a classroom or taken a test or gotten graded on anything in 11 years' freakout, accompanied by an 'OMG, Spanish was my worst class in high school' freakout. The day of my first Spanish final in high school, I threw up for 2 hours and the school sent me home.

The icing on the cake is that I got an email today from my instructor. It's a good thing I checked my campus email. Nobody had email when I was an undergrad, and email was so new when I was in grad school that none of my professors were really on board with it yet. Anyway, my Spanish instructor wants us to show up for class tomorrow night with our textbook. However, she didn't pass along any handy information like what the title is. Meanwhile, I barely have enough time to come home after work, change clothes, and eat dinner before I head to class anyway, but I have to head out early tomorrow to try to find the campus bookstore and hope they know which textbook I need. ::runs about waving hands in the air:: Sorry, I was having a Rodney McKay moment there.

Please don't let this suck. Please don't let this suck. Please don't let this suck.


Jul. 28th, 2007 10:47 pm
the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Agt. Paper Bookstack)
I've been bad. I haven't cleaned since Wednesday. I haven't done much of anything, really. I've been feeling really listless this week. I've been talking to friends and coworkers, even the teller at the bank, and they've all been feeling the same way. I hope it passes soon.

Meanwhile, I had a much longer, dragged out afternoon yesterday than I'd planned. I went to the local community college to sign up for a Spanish class, since I need to learn to read Spanish for work. There were dozens of Spanish I classes, all of which seemed to meet for a different number of hours and have different course fees which the course catalog did not explain, so I wanted to speak to an academic advisor to make sure I signed up for the right class. All the advisors were in a big room processing incoming freshman. The main advising office told me to tell the people at the desk that I was just signing up for one class for work and to let me in. The person at the desk was having none of it. He made me wait 37 minutes until the next orientation session started and made me spend an hour sitting through it before I could see an advisor.

I got to spend an hour hearing about placement tests I don't need to take, an explanation of the credit hour system that hasn't changed since the first two times I went to college, and about how I could transfer my credits to a 4 year school. Whee. I'd pointed out beforehand to the wonk at the desk that I have a B.S. and an M.L.S. so I'm pretty sure I know how college works. When I finally got in to see an advisor, he apologized to me about having to jump through that hoop. "You must've been so bored." Anyway, I'm now signed up for a semester of Spanish. It will meet 2 nights a week for 2 hours each night.

I'm not looking forward to it. I know it'll do me good both personally and professionally, but I am not gifted in learning foreign languages. I took Spanish in high school and Russian in college and sucked at them both. I was apparently accidentally manufactured with 2 left brains, so if you need analytical skills or someone to balance your checkbook, I'm your girl. Anything involving the arts or creativity is a total wash. I think I would probably do better with something like the Rosetta Stone software, but work wouldn't buy it for me (they're paying for my classes, though) and I won't get credit for the training hours (I'm required to take 60 hours of training in something professionally relevant every year) unless I have proof of exactly how many hours I spent (I can prove I was in class, but I can't prove how much time I spent on homework, so those hours don't count).

On the other hand, I'm feeling strangely giddy at the prospect of buying school supplies for the first time in 11 years.


the_other_sandy: Yomiko Readman hugging a book (Default)

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