I can’t speak Spanish… either.

Although I decided (almost twenty years ago) to learn Spanish, I really haven’t made it past a few rudimentary phrases and words.  I bought a dictionary, but couldn’t spell in Spanish.  Oh, sure, I could get by for a little while with “Donde esta los banos” and “como se dice…” (it’s likely I didn’t spell even one of those words correctly), and then smile, shrug, and say my one word or two that might apply.  But I really thought I wanted to speak a foreign language.  I haven’t even come close, nor have I really tried. 

I checked out tapes from the library once, but never did get around to listening to them.

You know the set-up and the joke – What do you call someone who speaks three languages? – Trilingual;  What do you call someone who speaks two languages? – Bilingual; What do you call someone who speaks one language? – American.  I am an American.

It’s not that I’m proud of not speaking another language, nor am I necessarily ashamed that I don’t.  I think it would be interesting to speak to someone in their first language.  People do it with me all the time.  I have taught students who came into class without knowing any English, and they have left speaking quite a bit – I did my part in helping.  I didn’t, however, set any kind of example… really… maybe a negative example.  I believe that immersion is an effective technique, so we would label everything in the classroom in both English and Spanish, then our rule was that inside the classroom we could only speak English and outside the classroom we could only speak Spanish.  It was actually pretty effective – the kids who spoke only Spanish improved their English skills and also got quite a laugh at my babblings when we were outside… nice.  Their parents were funny too – they would speak slower and louder to help me understand – they were true Americans.

Maybe I’ll learn Portuguese, that would be fun to learn…  I bought a dictionary.

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7 responses to “I can’t speak Spanish… either.

  1. Great post and I did enjoy your “…American” joke! I agree with you, immersion really is the best way to learn a foreign language. For example, studying English courses in England gives students the ability to be completley surrounded by the UK’s culture. They can practice the language all the time; there are adverts everywhere, good radio stations, great places and things to do in London for example.

    Great to hear you’ve now bought a dictionary and are considering learning another foreign language – have you opened it yet and begun? 🙂

  2. mais ou menos…

  3. I’m attempting to learn Japanese, but it’s a slow go. I wish the local college would offer classes.

  4. We had some students taking Japanese in an online course a couple of years ago and it seemed pretty effective for them. I can ask around, if you like.

  5. You (and your commenters) might find this list of free language courses to be of interest.

  6. With the internet, you can learn any language if you put in the time. Just watch tv, listen to the radio, and don’t try so hard. Quantity is more important than quality. You’ll pick it up. Many people have learned English that way.

  7. solo trata de aprender no seas tonto el idioma no es dificil todo esta en el poder de tu mente y la importancia que le des, aprende chico al menos al grocerias jejejejeje

    I’m thinking you are telling me that it isn’t too difficult to learn another language if I put my mind to it and make it important. I think you also told me that even a child knows what groceries are(?). I’ll try this and hope it translates right: Tiene usted razón – no lo he convertido en una prioridad. Me gusta la comida. Voy a empezar en la cocina.

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