I have been learning Spanish inconsistently since the sixth grade… I took Spanish through college until I was no longer able to take the language classes anymore as there was no more room in my schedule. When I went to Florida I stayed in a Spanish-speaking AirBNB. When we went to the Dominican Republic in June – I challenged myself to speak Spanish as often as possible – I found that I was only really comfortable doing this towards the end of the week we were there and with the same bartender – Rincon – the one that made me feel comfortable about my Spanish.
I have always had a love of language, especially Spanish. I want to be able to say that I am fluent in Spanish. I want to be valuable to any business that will have me by being able to utilize my language skills. Other countries learn multiple languages from birth, and its unfortunate that our country doesn’t value that, most especially since we border a country that speaks another language as their primary – and another country that has two primary languages.
Fast forward to today, I listen to podcast in Spanish every day in order to keep it ‘fresh’. I practice on Duolingo, daily – trying to keep myself flexible and consistent. However, I found myself hitting a ceiling. I am not learning the conjugations and I am lacking the ability to conjugate tenses and learn some of the more complicated irregularities in the language. I bit the bullet and hired a tutor that I will be working with twice weekly to help get me over the hump. I put on my resume “Spanish: Limited working proficiency.”
Prior to our first meeting I needed a considerable amount of Pinot Noir because there is something seriously embarrassing about speaking a native speaker’s language to them and potentially butchering it. My heart was positively pounding. I am thinking “Ugh, she is just going to think I am just some silly American with no proper accents, getting words wrong, thinking I am better than I am at this…”. Once we finally connected, I did realize my anxiety in the moment made me forget a lot of things because I was SO worried about getting it wrong that all of my thoughts were getting clouded and all of the words were swirling around in my head… “Is that future conditional? Should I be using ‘usted’ with her? Wait – aren’t there two works for this same thing? Oh, wait, that is for persons from Spain only… everyone else doesn’t use this. Oh! Damnitt. I used ‘estoy’ when *I KNOW* that it’s ‘soy’…” But… at the end of it, she didn’t laugh, I didn’t die… and I really need this to get me to fluency. It was OK. She promised me that I would get more comfortable with her the more we talk and once my confidence increases a bit.
But! — one big thing I realized from this meeting… I understand a LOT more than I give myself credit for… I kept telling her that I don’t understand Spanish as well when its spoken to me, but I read it really well, however there was almost nothing she said that I didn’t understand… I realized my weakness is actually speaking it once it is my turn to respond. I freeze.
I will be working with her twice a week… I am anxious to see progress and she seems, as a professional teacher, really confident that she will determine the way that I learn and expand upon that for me. I need that.