L is for Learn Spanish Fluently
Written by
Kari Redmond
April 2015
Written by
Kari Redmond
April 2015

I spent nearly two years in Chile, and another year in Honduras. I take advantage of the work study privilege the university at which I work offers, taking a few Spanish classes a year. I travel yearly to Spanish speaking countries so that I can practice the language, and yet still, I haven’t mastered it.

I understand how difficult it is to learn a language. I teach English every day to students who are learning it to eventually attend university classes in English. I see their struggles, and at the beginning of each term, I tell my students that I too am learning a language. I want them to know that I truly do understand the enormous task it is to learn a foreign language.

And, as a second language teacher, I’ll tell you something not many want you to know. I fully believe that some people truly are just better at learning a language. I do not know what it is in the brain, nor do I have scientific research to back this up. What I do know is what I see every day in my classes, and what I myself have been through. Some students just get it. They enjoy it. They push towards it. I am not that student.

One would think, after having lived abroad for nearly three years in Spanish speaking countries, that I would be much more fluent than I am right now. One would especially think that after taking so many university level Spanish classes that I am more than half way to a minor in it.  But I sadly, am not.

I am most certainly better than I was when I first stepped foot in Chile ten years ago, knowing, quite literally only the words for ‘bathroom,’ ‘beer’ and ‘apple’ (not sure why I knew ‘apple’-not exactly as necessary as the other two.) In fact, I recently traveled around Cuba for a month quite competently and confidently using my Spanish in a country where very little English is spoken. I understand much more than I speak, but I can also get said what needs to be said.

All of this, I feel, is a great accomplishment, but I can’t help but think, that after 10 years of living and learning Spanish, I would be a bit further along.  It’s discouraging, yes, but not defeating.  I remember my father once told me how proud he was of me (words not often spoken by him to me.) He told me that the people in our family were not good at learning languages and that he thought it was a great feat for me to have tackled.  For whatever, ‘I’ll show you’ reason, it helped to make me even more determined to become fluent. I’ve got time and several more Spanish speaking countries in which to practice.

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