Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hospitality and grammar

Another thing that has really impressed me about the Chilean culture is the importance of hospitality and respect in this culture.  Whenever I've been to somebody's house, they have gone out of their way to make not only me, but everybody there feel very welcome and comfortable.  Any food or drinks at a Chilean's house is open to all guests.  I've never asked, but I've seen hosts cook for hungry guests.  I've even seen hosts give up their beds and sleep on couches when somebody else is too tired or sloppy to go home.

Perhaps the most impressive example came the other day.  We were all at my friend Felipe's apartment, getting ready to go out.  One of the girls there (who was already fairly intoxicated) announced to the world that she was missing 20,000 pesos, which is a little over $40.  She finished going through all of her pockets and purse compartments when Felipe came up to her and said "Nobody loses anything in my apartment."  He then took out his own wallet, grabbed 20k, and gave it to here.  Just like that.  I've never seen anything like that in the states before.

Today I gave my night class at the Universidad de Desarrollo their midterm examination.  I'm about halfway through grading it, and the average grade right now is about 70%.  I'm currently battling between feelings of inadequacy as a teacher, and contempt for my students for their mistakes.  We spent an inordinate amount of time on grammar structures, and different key phrases (like "going to" and "probably will"), but they have yet to absorb it.

For fun - here's a few grammatical structure questions for you.  How many can you answer without looking up the answers?  If you think you know, post a reply in the comments section.

1)  What is the difference between saying "have been..." and "have gone..."?

2)  Many words that express preference, like "like" and "love" can be paired with both infinitive and gerund (-ing) verbs.  Can "would like..." be paired with both too?

3) When do we use the present perfect continuous (have/has + been + *verb + ing*), and when do we use the present perfect (have/has + past participle)?

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