There comes a time in a person’s life when, after having attended Català bàsic I, you need to move on to Bàsic II. This time was a couple of months ago and upon my first day in the class, I felt like I was at a level that more suited my abilities than the first one. For starters, most everyone in the class could actually pronounce the language correctly more or less. That and there were those in the class that seemed much more interested in learning Catalan for the sake of knowing it as opposed to just gaining a certificate to further some nebulous career goal.
This class was massively more varied than my previous class. There was an Italian (hint, there’s always an Italian and they’re always good at Catalan), a German, a Moroccan, an Iranian, a French, 3-4 non-Catalan Spaniards, and then the rest were Central or South Americans. That later batch this time around were considerably more committed to learning the language than those in my first level class. So much so that they really and truly tried to speak only in Catalan, reverting to Spanish if they really didn’t know how to say something. Others relied on Spanish as a crutch a great deal more, the non-Catalan Spaniards being the worst offenders in this with others to a lesser degree.
The course itself proved more challenging as it dealt with the three different past tenses of Catalan as well as the future tense and the imperative. Of course heaped on to this were new verbs, vocabulary, and phrases. For an English speaker, that three past tense issue is tricky, but through a great deal of repetition, I managed to pick it up to the point where it is generally automatic now.
The teacher of the class I didn’t initially care for as she was a bit older and had an air about her that she was dying to retire from dragging people through basic Catalan lessons year after year. Despite that, I actually found her methods to be the quite beneficial. She expanded on the lessons from the books and had the class often form a ring to run through wrote memorization of the core elements of the class. While she could get a bit “lecture-y” as the teachers seem to all do here in Spain, she wouldn’t direct it at any one student, browbeating them because they didn’t understand something. My first level teacher would often do this and I could see it discouraging students immediately as no one likes to look like an asshole in front of others.
This class wasn’t for the feint of heart though. While the first level was akin to 3/4 of one college year of language studies in the US, this was something like the second year and a bit of the first, all smashed down in to eight weeks of lessons that were twice a week at three hours a session. You really needed to come to all the classes and many were quite bad about this. I missed one because I had a cold. Others missed more. In theory attendance was to be strictly enforced, but it seems that in the name of getting more speakers of Catalan, they pass people on to the next level regardless.
As it goes, by the end of the class, I was hating it, which is always the case. This isn’t a reflection on the teacher or the class (well, the book is less than stellar in how it’s set up) but more on the fact I’m a truly terrible student and I wanted to get a little snippet of knowledge, work with it in the real world and come back for more once I felt that I’d fully integrated it. It doesn’t work like this though and you keep getting new information thrown at you whether you want it or not. So it goes. The classes are after all free and I can’t really complain while then heading on to Bàsic III.