While I am in Sevilla, I go to Spanish class 4 hours a day. In high school and college, I hated Spanish. I thought it was difficult and I didn’t think I’d ever need to use it (wrong-o). However, I am seriously in love with this language class. It’s extremely intensive because it is only two weeks, but it’s really entertaining and I’m learning a lot.
The school I am attending is in the heart of the city and teaches a bunch of different languages to students of many nationalities. They offer a lot of other cultural programs as well…weekend trips to nearby countries, tours of the city, etc. The atmosphere of the school is so fun. You never know what language the person sitting next to you in the library speaks. Everyone seems to love the study of culture and the joys of travel. It’s exhilarating! It would be really cool to work at an international language school one day.
While I am indulging in the romance of learning a new language, I am also realizing how immensely difficult it is to become fluent. Yes, I can form sentences. Yes, I can understand you if you use basic words, speak slowly and use charades. However, when I overhear a conversation in Spanish at the table next to me (at the same pace at which I would speak English)…I can’t understand anything.
I am learning more and more that residing in a foreign country does not grant you the sudden privilege to understand another language. In fact, I believe to be fluent in a second language, even living in a country where it is the native language, is an active choice, and is hard work. You can learn by osmosis how to function in the everyday places…i.e. the grocery store, the mall, etc. But you can’t just learn how to have a coherent conversation by walking around. It takes a lot of study and a lot of practice, and a little discomfort. It is uncomfortable when you can’t find the words to express your thoughts to someone else. It’s uncomfortable when you say something so incorrectly that other people laugh. But that’s how you learn. When I move to Granada, and I have fewer American friends nearby, I am going to become even more fully immersed in the uncomfortable stage, but I’ll need to keep reminding myself that is it all part of the process.
On a different note, I have a huge crush on my cutie Spanish teacher. I don’t think he’s interested in me at all, but I often daydream in my free time about our future life together. He could perfect his English, I could perfect my Spanish…we could work at this language school together…have bilingual babies…it’s really the ideal situation. The positive aspect to this scenario is that I try harder in class, and that benefits everyone. 🙂
Besos y Abrazos,