Learning like a child
Originally posted November, 2018
I suddenly really have a lot of respect for three year-olds. Because you see, in terms of learning Spanish right now, I’m basically a three year-old. The parallels are frightening. I can tell you in Spanish what I want to eat, I can point to what part of me hurts. In context and when being able to generally anticipate what the conversation will be about, I’m right there with you. But when the subject is unexpected, or you use a complicated term, I have a tendency to either stare blankly or smile and nod like a confused three-year old.
This means my life on the Spanish language spectrum is a bloody roller-coaster. Yesterday in the mini-market by my house I held my own in a conversation with two Oaxacans. I understood enough of what they said, to be able to understand and respond accordingly and felt really good. Then this morning at the market, when I pulled out my phone I dropped my shopping list. A really nice older man pointed at the ground and said something quickly. I had no idea, at first I thought he was yelling at me perhaps for taking the picture I took, which made absolutely no sense, then I finally caught the Spanish word for paper and looked back to see my list on the ground. Because the topic was wholly unexpected my brain just couldn’t keep up.
In one sense that seems terrible, but I’m so much better than I was a couple of weeks ago. Language school here in Oaxaca has been incredibly helpful. It’s been a really comfortable environment to learn in and I’m really glad I took this opportunity. My interactions in the street at the market and in restaurants have really improved. I feel far more confident and more willing to engage.
In many ways in learning Spanish I’m like an idiot savant. On one had my pronunciation needs a lot of work, my vocabulary is pretty good but at times I’m really advanced. I have the benefit of having previously studied both Italian and Portuguese. My level of Portuguese was pretty high fifteen years ago and this has the effect of at times making me seem really advanced, and at other times getting me utterly confused between the two languages.
This situation is exactly what I wanted, I love learning and although at times it can be frustrating, it is a really positive change. What travel and learning in general do for you is give you purpose, challenge you, get you out of your comfort zone and help you grow, all of these things together will make you happier. I can’t wait for the day when I feel fairly comfortable in Spanish, it’s not here yet, but I’m on my way. Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane