Estoy Aprendiendo a Hablar Español

Monday, December 5, 2016

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to learn Spanish. I had this picture book of images with both the English & Spanish translations beneath them, which didn't help me with sentence structure but did ensure that at age 7, I know how to say "butter" en Español. Very useful. (It's la mantequilla, by the way.)

I bugged my grandmother to to take me to Mexico for my thirteenth birthday (because I didn't know Spanish was spoken anywhere else). I planned to be a Spanish-to-English translator when I grew up. And like I already told you, I convinced my mom to take in a foreign exchange student from Peru - & after that, another from Venezuela.Needless to say, I was pretty into Spanish.

In an effort to become fluent, I took eight years of language lessons from middle school through college - but then my interest totally waned. It's been ages since I've even tried to speak Spanish - which is why, when visiting Peru, I was shocked by how much of it came back to me when I had to speak it in a pinch.

Through my limited language skills & surprisingly adept hand-acting abilities, I was able to communicate with most vendors & hospitality industry folks (many of whom speak English, but plenty of whom do not). I also received multiple compliments on my accent, even when my sentence structure wasn't on-point, which is a great start. But actual conversations were near impossible; at Paolo's wedding, I had to ask bilingual guests to help translate (including a 13-year-old girl who learned English by watching Full House reruns sans subtitles).

Still, I came home with a newly revitalized interest in learning Spanish. Even though I barely knew enough of the language to get by, I felt inspired by my conversations in Peru & by my enthusiasm for speaking Spanish even after all these years. Since getting home, I've since started using the Duolingo app every day to try to better my Spanish skills, taking at least 1-0 minutes out of every day to practice.

For your entertainment, here's a list of my seven favorite Spanish words thus far:
  1. El zanahoria (carrot)
  2. La mantequilla (butter)
  3. Los zapatos (shoes)
  4. El almuerzo (lunch)
  5. A la izquierda (to the left)
  6. La maracuya (a kind of passionfruit) 
  7. Miercoles (Wednesday)
Duolingo says I'm now 5% fluent in Spanish, which means I can speak basic phrases, like, "The cat is grey" & "My mother eats cheese on Sundays" - you know, the really important stuff. Now I've just got to figure out which Spanish-speaking country to visit next to try it all out in!

Do you speak any other languages? Got any tips for learning a new one? 

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