multitasking with a second language
Thursday, November 11 2004
I had a housecall in Shokan today. Shokan is to the west of Hurley in a less-populated, more mountainous, more right-wing part of the Catskills. As I was driving there I was wondering how I'd be able to manage my feelings if I found my new client glowing with delight about the prospects of four more years under the heel of Bush-Cheney. Luckily I never had to find out. I knew this the moment I saw her front yard, which featured a prominent Buddah. You can talk all you want to about the religious vote, but I'm guessing precious few Buddhists voted for the "no future" ticket.
The only downside in this housecall was the appalling amount of second hand cigarette smoke I inhaled while there. It must say something either about the nature of my clients or the nature of the times that I almost never have a housecall at the residence of a smoker, and it's a benefit I take for granted. I'm only made aware of how lucky I am on the few occasions when I do encounter a smoker. I really liked my client today. She was a naturalist who climbed high into the mountains of Mexico to study migrating Monarch Butterflies, but she chainsmoked the whole time I was there. Her cigarettes actually looked like small cigars and each had a colorful monochromatic band around the smokeable end. Like M&Ms, they seemed to come in a variety of band colors. Over the phone her voice had lead me to expect an elderly woman, but I think she was only in her late forties.
When my client discovered I was studying Spanish, she conversed with me a little in that language. It's mentally taxing to speak in a second language, and I found I couldn't do any multitasking (computer work) while attempting to formulate Spanish sentences. I experience a similar problem whenever Gretchen tries to get me to speak Spanish while I'm driving. Doing so seems dangerous, like I might forget to turn the wheel the right direction because all my neurons (even of my cerebellum and medulla oblongata) are occupied with the job of determining whether I should go with a conjugation of ser, haber, or estar. Hell, even if I'm sitting quietly in a chair, on a bad day thinking in Spanish could make me forget to beat my heart.
This afternoon Gretchen and I had another in-home lesson with out Spanish tutor, Javier, who comes from Columbia. We love Javier. He's hilarious in both English and Spanish and he laughs at our jokes even when we tell them in broken Spanish.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next