It is a pleasure to welcome Bekah to Spanglish House. She is American and she has what it takes to be multicultural. She loves Spanish, she is very interested in Hispanic culture and she has the desire not just to know more about Spanish speaking countries, but she wants to live in one.
When I was in 3rd(ish) grade, my mom signed me up for weekly Spanish classes. Those only lasted for a few months, and when I was in 4th grade I started having weekly sessions with a tutor. That tutor randomly stopped showing up to lessons after a few months, so I started studying some en mi casa. In 8th grade, I started weekly tutoring with Cecy. (who don’t tell the others, but she was always my favorite)
Being homeschooled, I thought it was normal to start learning a foreign language so early, I never thought about it twice. I remember thinking it was a bit odd that my friends couldn’t count to at least 30 in Spanish, they didn’t even know how to ask, “Como estas?” That being said, I was no Spanish mastermind, and I couldn’t conjugate a verb to save my life until I was 12 (and even then it was pretty rough for a while).
If you ask the question, “do you speak another language?” the typical response from high school graduates is, “Well, I took some in high-school, but I don’t remember much.” If you ask someone still in high school, the answer is most often, “Yeah, I’m in Spanish II.” But if you ask them what they know, it turns out, it’s not very much.
Puedes memorizar un idioma o puedes aprender una idioma.
I recently took a Spanish class at a local community college, and to be completely honest, I learned nothing. I have my 4 credits, but no real new knowledge.
Classes are teaching us to think about it. They teach us the exact proper way to say things. We can say things like, “El caballo es azul.” Or “Me gusta la camisa.”
If you can tell me every color, count to 600, name every animal in the zoo, but you can’t politely order a chicken sandwich at Pollo Campero, you’re doing it wrong. The slang, the funny little expressions, that’s what really makes a language unique.
To fully know a language is to be able to say what you want fluidly, without having to stop and really think about it. The best things I’ve learned have come through just talking to other people. A person can read all the textbooks they want, but a person can never communicate well without actually using it.
If you try to teach your children, or anyone, to speak perfect Spanish all of the time, it won’t work. Just speak to them, teach them by example.
I have learned more Spanish while taking a 15 minute walk to a tienda en Guatemala con una mujer que estudiar un libro de texto por una hora.
Learning to be bilingual doesn’t come from a textbook. It comes from life.