Adventures in Learning Spanish (Again)

Me Hablo Español? Un poco ahora, mucho más pronto!
(Do I speak Spanish? A little now, much more soon!)

In a continued effort to keep my mind sharp and keep myself culturally relevant, I’ve decided it’s time I brush up on my Español.

Seven years ago, when I worked for a PR firm in Denver, one of my favorite clients was a property in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I spent multiple weekends hosting journalists and brainstorming strategic communications plans just steps away from the Caribbean. Frequently, conversations were peppered with broken Spanish from my high school and college years, but mostly I carried on business in English.

One day, I decided to test just how much Spanish my young, 20-something brain could remember from years ago. It couldn’t be that different than riding a bike, could it?

That morning, I woke up early, hours before my commitments, and ventured out on my own. On my stroll down the beach, I met a few fisherman. Here was my opportunity — I began to converse with them in only Spanish. Surprisingly so, I held my own for the better of 10 minutes. Faintly wreaking of fresh fish, I walked away proud that I just participated in a basic conversation with locals. Armed with this knowledge rebirth, I headed to a favorite breakfast spot and decided I would speak to the waitress in Spanish only.

It worked, for the most part, as she asked me where I had just been (maybe she smelled the fresh fish?), what I was I doing there and how long I would be in town. I was feeling great! Maybe I remembered more than I thought.

It wasn’t until she started to ask me more in-depth questions that I my newly rediscovered Spanish confidence began to unravel. It was not like riding a bike. There was a lot lost since my four years of Spanish. I could pick up verbs and nouns here and there, but a lot had gone missing. I didn’t know how to pick it back up, thusI shelved my new language as I boarded the plane back to Denver, moving on to other work demands.

A few years and a move to LA later, I was forced to brush off my dusty Spanish skills as I assisted a friend teaching middle school children Conversational Spanish. A tad bit rusty on all things “past-tense,” I was surprised that I was still able to hold my own. After all, we were dealing mostly in the present, with basic conversation elements. It felt great to exercise those muscles again. However, that lasted no more than a few weeks, and I went back to my largely English-speaking lifestyle.

Then a few weeks ago, I spent some time with a friend who is raising her toddler in a bilingual environment. Proud that I could not only understand, “¿Dónde estás tus pantalones?” but that I was able to understand the ultimatums she was setting forth, I decided it was time to reinvest in my second language. Clearly there is still a section of my brain dedicated to the language. And let’s face it, speaking Spanish requires more than knowing where my pants are. I may as well put this existing knowledge to use, and challenge myself more.

So, here I go, into the world of Rosetta Stone’s Spanish. I am three hours in, and admittedly a little bored (I already know the difference between Él and Ella, los niños y las niñas, Rosetta!). I have faith, though, that this total immersion software will consume me soon enough.

Hasta luego, mis amigos!