The Spanish language is so complicated to me. I have always felt this way, particularly with all the dialects from the different Latin American countries. So with that said, no… I do not speak Spanish. I wish I did. I have an iPhone app to help me with this. The funny thing is that I can understand it but I cannot speaking fluently nor can I hold a conversation. However, I do know some phrases and sayings.
I have mentioned that I can, however, survive if I need to. Of course, if you parachuted me into the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico for like a few months, I am quite sure I will know more than just how to find a bathroom, a restaurant, and a doctor.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my grandmothers used to talk to me in Spanish. I even remember songs that associated objects from Spanish to English (i.e. ventana – window, piso – floor, lapiz – pencil, and pluma – pen). I can never remember the rest of that song. So I know that when I was younger my mother was trying to get me to learn a little bit but, all conversations were in English. I am not one of those people that cannot roll his R’s. My mother made sure that I can do that.
So I figured that I can learn Spanish in school. I was excited that they were teaching it in grammar school. I took it very seriously. I was learning the alphabet and the numbers. Then we got to actual sayings and I slowly was beginning to realize that Spanish I was learning was “formal” and no where near the conversational Spanish that I was hearing from my Grandmothers or in the streets.
I used to get very intimidated as a kid when it came to speaking Spanish in the real world. When I was 14, I worked for Pathmark on 207th street. This was one of the first times that I really encountered Dominicans in large numbers. Frequently, people would ask me questions in Spanish about where something was located in the store. At times, I would be like…”no speak Spanish” and then I would get a weird look. Other’s I would understand and direct them. But, this one time, some guy came up to me and said something that I did not understand. So in my infinite wisdom, I say perfectly, “no hablo espanol”. He gave me this only look like.. “really?” and walked away. I started sticking to… No Spanish…lol
I began to get discouraged because I was starting to find that I was getting corrected at home and at school for what seemed to be 2 different languages. Ugh! I was so done. I think there was a part of me that shut down. I am really not sure how I passed Spanish in High School, but clearly I did something right. Maybe it was my gumption to graduate.
I will say that I do love to hear other people talk in Spanish. It is something that I love to hear on campus when I walk around. I have picked some more things in my years and I really do want to learn as much as I can because to be honest, if I do have kids, I want them to learn how to speak the language.