So here's the tea...
"Más lento por favor" * /: *
After studying Spanish for quite a few years now, one would think you would be an expert in the language. Similarly to being book smart versus street smart in terms of everyday life, there's a book smart and street smart to a language. If you haven't been told thus far, learning a language in school is one thousand percent different than immersing yourself into a culture itself, yet the immersion is one thousand percent better! How could it not be, it's the real deal! It's all those years in counting that you've been learning and studying for, that are being put to the test, and if you haven't studied the language prior, also great because you're going to learn the language first hand! I personally started my Spanish journey in the seventh grade... flash forward to present day and I am entering my fourth year of college. NINE YEARS OF SPANISH AND I'M NOT FLUENT , granted my studies haven't been consistent and my focus is in design, but it is very much one thing to read and write versus listening to a native tongue and to speak and respond. I'm here to share my tips and tricks, the ups and downs, and my progression with the language barrier, and let to you know IT'S OKAY TO NOT KNOW. It's how we learn and the only way we can push ourselves to feel confident and gain the knowledge.
Not even into week one... my flight to Santiago; I was warned of the Chilean Spanish, and I was headed to the "worst place to learn Spanish". I soon found out this meant I was about to learn from some fastttttt speakers. The first week was filled with excitement, and searching. The pace of the speech was so fast I would strive to just pick out any single word I could in a conversation. It was easy to resort to English because everything was so new; new country, new language, new culture, new people, new family, new home, new work, new coworkers, new friends. English was the consistent and the comfort, so with the overwhelmingness of all the new, English was the home base of what I already knew.
A word turned into words, which soon turned into sentences. Not everything was there, but the blabber that I first heard when I arrived, turns out those were real words! I began to watch Spanish series on Netflix in my free time with the subtitles to follow along. Allowing my brain to connect verbal speech, with visual words, and at a similar pace to what I was already hearing, was an entertaining way for me to practice when I wasn't surrounded by Spanish, and could concentrate on it in the comfort of my host home. Along with Netflix, I switched my phone to Spanish and started messaging friends in Spanish to make sure I was keeping up with it and not getting to attached to the comfort of the English.
It honestly took me until about week 5 to actually accustom myself to the speed of their speech to gain confidence to respond without second guessing everything. Sentences turned to paragraphs, questions prompted not just one word responses, and confusion prompted confidence to ask questions. Slowly but surely I began to gain confidence that I was starting to pick up on things and that I knew what I was doing. Life became routine and I didn't have to second guess everything that was going on.
Still not fluent, but have so much more confidence in my knowledge, and am a million times more willing to just go for it and strike up a conversation. I stressed too much about picking it up right away, or beating myself up for knowing that I know this stuff but was too overwhelmed. I'm excited that I can see the improvement between each individual day, but sad that it's slowly approaching the end and that I'll have to find new means of learning the language once my time here is done :(