Posted by: Team McSlade | March 11, 2010

¡Lo siento! (I’m sorry)

When people asked us why we chose Spain as a destination for my (Ryan’s) study, we answered that it would be for the challenge. Having lived overseas before in Canada and I lived in London in ’97, the challenge of living in a country where our native tongue was not the first language was reason enough.

This is the reason for the title of ‘Lo siento’; as having both English as a first language and the tyranny of distance (in coming from Australia) has led us to the point where not having another language to converse in is embarrassing.
Shamefully embarrassing.
The tautology of the previous grammatically incorrect sentence aside, it is appalling that we do not have another language to use when faced with the prospect of overseas travel and interaction with people from other countries and cultures.

Yesterday (I am typing this at 12.13am), I was hit firmly, yet metaphorically, in the face with this realisation when I went to nut out a solution to Inglés Académica:

a)      not having a lecturer to run the course, and

b)      being similar to the English I was required to do in Year 7.

Now I don’t blame the confusion of Academic English being ‘high level English for non-native speakers’ rather than English for Academia (i.e. writing essays, referencing using the Harvard standards, etc) on the University and its lack of information on what was to be covered in the subject.
I went to work out with Maria in the International Office what I can do in the face of AE being a case of ‘correct the verb’ and ‘where does the semi colon go?’ We spoke in English and another guy, Sergio, who helps run ESN – the International Student body, was also there. They spoke in Spanish and I picked up a few words and realised they weren’t putting me to the sword but I was helpless if they decided to pull out the knives and verbally attack me in Spanish.

Here is where the epiphany came, as I realised that my schooling and country had failed me. I am more than proficient in the use of English (I could probably teach the Inglés Académica class). However, unless someone is talking to me in English I am fairly well up the proverbial creek sin/sans/without a paddle.

Before Team McSlade was allowed to leave the wonderful shores of Australia, we needed to collect our passports from the Spanish Consulate in Adelaide. Here – in the back blocks of Fulham Gardens – we met Mr Joaquín Artacho, Honorary Consul, who was very enthused by our trip to his mother country and that more should be done in the way of teaching a second language in Australian schools. His choice was Spanish.
Whether this is the national choice or it’s German, French, Chinese or Greek; something more than the two pathetic years of high school German I did in the early nineties must surely be pushed harder to the kids of today (damn, don’t I sound old, and I’m only 34 in a few weeks time – March 27) than what is currently taught in English-speaking nations.

I am tired of the horrific adage of ‘if they don’t understand you, say it louder and slower, then they’ll get it.’
Yep, they will get that you are an idiot (ahh, memories of Paris and an American asking repeatedly, for the sweetener, Sweet ‘n’ Lo  in a cafe, then looking to me and saying ‘He doesn’t understand?’ The Parisian did, he gave me a wink and I grabbed my baguette, coffees & cheese and ran). 

Now that I have proudly banged the drum up high on my soapbox, I will bid you adieu and to slumber I proceed and tomorrow I shall  head to my Spanish class and hopefully learn a little bit more.

Adios y buenas noches (o buenos días, si en Australia)



  1. Bah!

    I’ll bet your 2 years of high school German will have served you better than my 2 years of high school Latin, time machines not withstanding.

    Try telling a bunch of 13 year olds who already know EVERYTHING that they’ll have to learn some variety of European gutterspeak for a few extra years “Beacause it’ll be good for you” or “You’ll thank me when your older”. I’m pretty sure they’ll text you that “Nglsh is alrdy my 2nd lngwj. rofl. XD”

  2. Totally agree. With 1 year of Italian under my belt from, dare I say 80’s, I can quite confidently ask what the time is, (Che ora e?). Sorry about punctuation etc. But that is it. So with Shannen commencing French this year and hopefully continuing with it for years to come, I dearly hope she gets more out of it than I ever did.

  3. Who won the prize for being the 1,000 click ?

  4. […] After ¡Lo siento! (I’m sorry) I had my Spanish class and my teacher asked me (in Spanish) to hang around after class. I did – […]

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