My Spanish


My Spanish is getting better.

At first, I felt like it would never improve.  My job is in English.  My social life is in English.  My home is an English speaking home.  I read English on the computer.  I watch English television.  I listen to English music.  I live an English language life.

This is not to say that I never speak with the Spanish teachers, speak Spanish at home, read Spanish, or listen to Spanish.  I do and I have since arriving.  But for months it felt like the Spanish I used never changed, never grew.

Then one day I had a Spanish moment: I used a word I had never used before without even thinking about it.  I needed the word and there it was, coming from my mouth.  I had no idea where the word has been or how it got there.

I felt wonderful for many weeks simply based on this one little moment.  But then, as those weeks passed, I did not have any other Spanish moments.  No surprise words but many moments without any to communicate the things I wanted–or needed–to communicate.  I started once again to feel like I was standing at the bottom of the mountain.

Then I started my Spanish classes.  Again.  This marks the fourth time in my life I have enrolled in beginners Spanish classes.  However, this time I started at level two instead of the beginning–I suppose that is a sign of progress.  And for the first few weeks I was very excited.  I was picking up some vocabulary and learning tenses I had never been able to access before.  I felt good about myself.

After a few weeks of classes, I decided to go home and speak Spanish with Salvador.  It took a long time to get him to stop speaking English, but he did.  That night, I had my first expressive conversation in Spanish.  I had words for everything I wanted to say, even if they weren’t as specific as the words I wanted.

For a while, I felt amazing.  Then, as before, that feeling faded.  I began to feel like everything I said was recycled, that I had no new words, no new ideas.  I was trapped in my little, Spanish box.

Last week, I had a conference with a parent.  She spoke no English and my translator was busy.  So I started in Spanish.  At first I was shaky, looking for words I didn’t have.  But the longer it went on, the easier the words came.  By the end they were rapid, comfortable, and not so horribly accented.  When the conference was over, I felt amazing–I had done something I had wondered if I would ever be able to do, just six months into my time in Mexico.

I’m sure the pattern will repeat many times before I am fluent.  But, for now, I am still holding onto the high from my conference and looking forward to the next step in my Spanish journey.


4 responses »

  1. Good for you! I have been here, what feels like forever, and still don’t have the nerves to try to speak in Spanish. I wish I had access to a class that could teach me. I don’t think such a thing exists in my little town.

    I would imagine that would make you feel a little bit more “at home” being comfortable to speak the language down here.

  2. Good for you. You sound like me. I have been here on and off for a year now and I pick up words here and there but I am still not fluent. I am not a big talker I usually just listen to people and that is easy to do with Javi’s family. Sometimes though they will ask me a question and a new word will just come out of my mouth and I had no Idea where it came from.
    This house is an only spanish speaking home, So I have to try and get by myself while Javi is at work, but once he comes home he only speaks to me in english and like you I talk on the computer in english, tv and music in english so sometimes it is hard to move forward. One day!!

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