This Spanish learning business does make me want to bang my head against the wall, repeatedly, morning noon and night. But sometimes, the ghost of Cervantes turns in his grave – either in despair or with mercy, it’s hard to tell which – and tosses me a scrap of hope. I’ve talked before about acknowledging the little successes, and I remain committed to posting them, no matter how piffling.
So, a couple of days ago, I went to the Museo Sorolla in Madrid with an old friend visiting from Germany. (Joaquin Sorolla Bastida was a Spanish Impressionist painter, born in 1863). We asked for audio guides, available only in English and Spanish, which was a bit inconvenient for my friend. As for me, there I stood, in front of the desk, dithering for several minutes over which one to go for. In the end, I opted for Spanish. As we trailed through the building, I kept pressing the litte buttons that explained the wonderful paintings, and… to my amazement, I understood everything.
Why did I even hesitate to ask for the Spanish audio guide? Well, only a few months ago, listening to guided tours in Spanish was a supreme effort. I understood maybe 30-40% if I was lucky. Thanks to “operation radio”, however, I no longer have problems with comprehension.
Curiously, at the point of choosing the audio guide, my conscious mind hadn’t quite caught up with the fact that my listening skills had improved greatly since my last tour. With hindsight, it seems silly now that I thought I might struggle with the Spanish audio guide, when I manage to understand just about everything else – people talking to me, films, the TV, etc. I guess, my initial doubts were like those of a kid looking wistfully at the doorhandle it couldn’t reach the last time it tried, not realising that it had, in fact, shot up a couple of inches in height since then.