How do I not speak Spanish? I lived in Mexico for 2 years, I spent a month in Spain one summer, and I’ve been in Guatemala for almost 6 months. And I don’t speak Spanish!! Well, not really. If someone asks me if I speak Spanish, I can’t confidently say, “Yeah, I do”. Rather, something like, “I get by but don’t speak well” is a lot more accurate.
Sometimes people compliment me on my Spanish. I’ve had a few native speakers say I speak very well (what I do know, I really know). Anyone who speaks less than me is always super impressed, thinking I know a lot more than I do. Then some people hear me stumble around for the right word, stutter when my brain’s not so alive, or flat-out freeze when I just don’t know how to say what I want. They think I barely know anything. How can I give so many different impressions one day to the next? How do I not speak spanish?
A part of me feels a little embarrassed, a little ashamed. Some people speak at an advanced level after having been in a Spanish-speaking country for mere months. I’ve lived in such countries for two and a half years. How do I not speak Spanish?
I could give a million reasons why I haven’t learned yet. But that’s irrelevant. Regretting the past doesn’t help the future. So, I put aside those feelings of inadequacy, and focus on where I’m going. I really want to learn. I am determined. I am going to speak Spanish.
So, here I am, in Antigua, Guatemala, ready to begin 3 weeks of Spanish study. I’m going to watch movies, listen to music, read books – all in Spanish. I’m going to study what I learn in class, supplement with DuoLingo, and speak with other Spanish-speakers. Antigua’s a tough place to do this, but you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.
So, let me hold myself accountable by publicly saying, once more, that I will speak Spanish. Soon, when someone asks me, I will confidently say, “Yes, I speak Spanish”.