Adventures in Spanish Sitting*22 Feb 2009
*This post actually includes very little sitting
Since I was just a little kid taking classes at Aims College for Kids I have been fascinated with foreign languages. I took a French class and a Japanese class and enjoyed both of them. Once I reached sixth grade and could take a language class I signed up for French. I continued to take French through my senior year and have since forgotten all of my French, aside from a few cuss words.
I am trying to learn from that mistake as I take Spanish. Since I am trying to improve my fluency I make sure to pay attention when someone comes into the office speaking Spanish. I also do my best to speak Spanish when the opportunity arises. Making this easier is the fact that I live in a part of the country that is heavily populated with Spanish only speakers.
The most interesting bonus to learning Spanish has been learning more about the Spanish and Latin American cultures. They are so laid back, almost to the point that is can be annoying. As a new Spanish speaker, however, it is awesome. Most non-Spanish speaking Americans get frustrated very quickly when dealing with someone who is struggling to speak English. I feel that this reaction is hardwired in the Anglo American attitudes from our English ancestors. This reaction is the polar opposite of the reaction I get from Spanish speakers when I attempt to communicate with them.
Whenever I attempt to speak Spanish, no matter how poorly that attempt is, the people I am speaking to are supportive. Sure they may laugh when I make a mistake, but it is a laugh of mirth not a laugh of “look at this retarded guy trying to speak Spanish”.
Learning Spanish has also given me a deep understanding on just how difficult it is to learn a second language. The fact that there are a large number of people that speak no English and are able to function in our primarily English society amazes me. I am pretty sure that if I was dropped off tomorrow in the interior of Mexico to fend for myself I would fail miserably.
Please keep this in mind when you encounter someone who doesn’t speak your language. Give everyone a chance and remember since there is no official language on the books for the USA and until there is you cannot expect everyone to speak the same language.
Here is my one tip to anyone who wants to learn Spanish. If you want your pronunciation to be better, remember Antonio Banderas. Speak in you best Antonio Banderas accent and your pronunciation will be so much better. It is all about attitude.