My friend Michelle, who is also a fellow Californian au pairing here in Madrid, and I always talk about the struggles we have with living in a different language country. Some days we are on our game and busting out Spanish like natives…other days, not so much. One of the struggles is being funny and joking…both of which we do in English. We’re a sarcastic pair. So not being able to joke in Spanish is a struggle. Our joke is that when the day comes when we can joke in Spanish, we’ve mastered the language!
Once we started classes again after the New Year, we found ourselves in different classes and the only Americans in our classes. Initially this wasn’t a problem, but soon I felt like I was falling behind. What the heck?! We were all learning the same thing at the same time. Why wasn’t this clicking?! After talking to some classmates and other friends the conclusion is this…I’m here working and I’m American. That’s the problem. Okay, I’m not saying that is a problem problem, but it could be part of the reason I feel like Spanish isn’t clicking at times. Many of my fellow classmates are students. Aka their reason for being in Spain is to study. So in addition to the classes they are taking, in Spanish, they are also taking our Spanish class. ALL THEIR TIME IS DEVOTED TO THE LANGUAGE. Problem #1 for me. I do not have the luxury of devoting all my time to learning and practicing Spanish. My reason for being in Spain is work which is with my kiddos and that’s in English. Although, with my Spanish parents and any one else I speak in Spanish. So I do get some daily practice time. Now for issue #2…me being American. *Disclaimer…I love my country. I have no qualms with being from the US of A. I love it and embrace it. I am not bashing being an American. Not at all.* We speak English. If you are lucky enough you will have taken some sort of language in high school or college. What that language was depended on your location, it seems like French, Spanish, German, and American Sign Language were the most common languages offered. Here’s the catch…we “learn” these languages for 2-3 years maybe. Then that’s it. Nada mas. We take the classes and learn enough to pass and then forget it. We don’t actually learn enough to speak well in that language. In my Spanish class here in Spain, my classmates are other Europeans. They already speak 2 languages and were learning their third or fourth language! What?! #jealous They know how to learn another language, so of course that helps when learning another. Makes it easier, in a sense. I want to know more languages! I wish I could speak that many! One day, I’ll be bilingual! If I’m lucky 🙂
These aren’t excuses, just things I’ve realized since moving. I know that I have learned a lot and I know it is a process. Learning a language will take time. I have definitely made progress since July, and I’ve still got more time to keep improving. Poco a poco. Can’t wait for the day when I crack a joke in Spanish! That’s when I’ll know I’ve got this language down! haha
Have you tried learning a new language? What were some of the things you encountered?