Abstract: Learning languages is as easy as Uno, Dos, Tres! Take your time, practice, and make tons of mistakes!
Are you bilingual? Do you speak a language other than English? Have you ever thought about how scary it would be to arrive in a new country and not know the language? These were some things I had never thought about when I was growing up.
I have always loved languages and I started studying Spanish when I was in 5th grade just like you! I fell in love with it right away! My favorite part about learning a different language was that I could learn so much about another part of the world by learning how they talk. Another bonus was that I could have secret conversation without my parents knowing what I was saying!
I took Spanish classes from 5th grade until my senior year in high school. In my senior year, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks during spring break with my Spanish program in Costa Rica! At the time, my Spanish was fairly good.
However, I stopped practicing it because I moved to Brazil for a year. When I was there, I had to learn Portuguese! Did you know that Brazil is the largest country in South America and it doesn’t speak Spanish? While I was in Brazil I didn’t get to practice Spanish and I didn’t speak any English. I didn’t know the language when I arrived, but after I spent time there I became fluent! The bad thing was that I forgot a lot of my Spanish or it got mixed up with my Portuguese.
When I got to Venezuela, my Spanish wasn’t very good. It was still better than a lot of other Americans that came here with me. I think this is because of how much I love and practice learning new languages. Also, I’ve taken many years of Spanish class. However, my Spanish has improved again now that I’m in Venezuela.
I still make many mistakes, but it doesn’t embarrass me very much. However, sometimes when I don’t understand things, embarrassing things can happen! The other day, I was at a restaurant where they served a lot of Brazilian meat. It was all very delicious. At one point, the waiter came by and offered me some meat I had never heard of before. I asked him to repeat the name and tried to ask him where the meat came from. He didn’t understand my question but asked me to try it anyway. I tried the unknown meat but later, he told me it was cow intestine! I think he knew what I was asking but wanted me to eat it anyway. It was chewy and not too bad, but the idea of eating intestines is very weird. If I had known that word in Spanish there wouldn’t have been any problem! Oh well.
The scariest thing about living in a country where English isn’t the official language is that it becomes a lot harder to express myself. This reminds me of immigrants in the United States. Do you know any immigrants? One of my best friends moved to Minnesota from Mexico in 5th grade! When she moved here, she didn’t speak any English. As a matter of fact, her mom still doesn’t speak English. The community treats them very different because there are people that think everyone should speak English in the United States.
I don’t agree with that opinion because sometimes it isn’t that people don’t want to learn a different language, it is just really hard! Not speaking the dominant language makes it much harder to make friends and even grocery shop!
The best thing that a native Spanish speaker could do to help is to be patient and correct me when I make mistakes. I think we could do this with immigrants too. We just have to be patient and try to understand them. I know that I don’t like when people treat me differently because I have a funny accent or don’t know professional words, so I imagine that immigrants all over the world wouldn’t like it either!
Besides being able to talk to people around the world, I love languages because you can understand more books, movies and music! Music all over the world is different and unique to its people. Music is also one of the best ways to learn a new language because you can listen to it on repeat and compare what you hear to the written lyrics. It has helped me learn a lot of phrases in Spanish! Although, you have to be careful because sometimes song lyrics aren’t appropriate for everyday conversation! Can you imagine how funny it would be if you used the newest rap song lyrics in a conversation with your grandma?
The best part about learning a new language is that you can make new friends and learn about people that are different from you! The more languages you know and the more you try to make friends with people from different places, the smaller the world will become. You’ll have a better understanding of the world too.
If you are currently learning a new language, I recommend speaking it as much as you can. Try and find people who want to speak it with you. Watch movies, listen to music and read books in that language too. It is important to be around the language as much as possible. If you can, make up stories in your head as you walk down the street. Sometimes when I walk around town, I try to remember vocabulary words by identifying things I see around me. It is a good way to test your vocabulary.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try and make mistakes! Mistakes make learning a new language more fun. They also make you remember the correct way a lot quicker. Don’t be afraid to get laughed at or to laugh at yourself! In the end, you’ll be a great speaker.