I Will Speak Spanish

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”.

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2 thoughts on “I Will Speak Spanish

  1. Quite similar to my experience with German. Being living in Austria and not speaking fluently after almost two years gives me a little bit of frustration but in the same time this motivates me to forward to boost my German speaking. After a lot of classes, movies, tv, radio and daily DuoLingo, what really helps is to use whatever you’ve learned! I wait for the chance to speak a word or a sentence that I’ve learned some how. At least I’m able to hold a short conversation in a restaurant, supermarket, on train…etc. The nice thing is struggling with Austrian and German friends, they like the idea that I’m trying to speak their language, and they like to help when I’m asking for it!

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    • Hey! I’m glad you can relate. You’re absolutely right – it’s about using what you’re learning. People definitely do appreciate when people try to learn their language. I really struggle to use Spanish when most people speak English anyway – it’s so easy to slip back into English. Eek!

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