Learning Spanish, Learning Languages
While learning foreign language can be difficult, there are many rewards that come with such new skills. Now that I have lived in Argentina for a few months, I am starting to get a better hang for the language. As I mentioned in some of my earlier posts, Argentines have a very distinctive way of speaking Spanish that is quite different from countries like Spain or Mexico. A fellow American student here who is Puerto Rican and lives in New York told me that when she stepped off the plane here in Buenos Aires she could not even tell that the Argentines around here were speaking Spanish!
While I am lucky that I have had some experience with the Argentine dialect of Spanish, that does not mean I am immune to making plenty of mistakes. This is in large part because certain things that I was taught back home in the United States have completely different meanings here in Argentina. Oftentimes, when I am at a restaurant or at a store someone will ask me something that I cannot understand.
My experiences here have put a lot of things into perspective, one of them being the struggle for immigrants to the United States to get used to our language and culture. When evaluating how difficult it has been for me to keep up in some of my classes not because of problems with our subject matter but because of language issues, I have grown to have a lot more sympathy for international students who study at my own university back in Indiana.
While I am lucky that I know many fellow Americans who live here and also that many Argentines speak English as a second language, many immigrants to the United States are not so lucky. In some instances, they may not know anyone from their homeland where they live. This is somewhat true for my very own mother. While there were other people who spoke Spanish, when I was growing there was two other people in my entire city from Argentina like her.
Just after living abroad for a few months, I have already become a little homesick for many things. Besides the obvious things like my family, friends, and dogs, I have also come to miss many of the simple pleasures from back home like Ritz crackers, canned soda, big breakfasts and ranch salad dressing. And of course, I also miss being able to say all that I wish as well as I can.
While I cannot speak Spanish perfectly I think it is really valuable to have the ability to speak multiple languages as it not only does it help you communicate with people you otherwise would have been able to talk with, but it also helps you think in new and different ways. By improving my Spanish, I have had the opportunity to learn new amazing things by reading books in Spanish, listening to Spanish language music, and meeting new friends who do not speak English.
For me, learning Spanish has been a vital part of my educational experience. This is why I recommend that you all take whatever opportunities you have to learn a new language, even if the one you choose is not Spanish. It is never too early to start learning!
Did you know that at least 20% of Americans speak a language other than English at home? That adds up to over 60 million people, which is almost 8 times as many that live in New York City! If your parents speak a foreign language, I highly recommend that you try and learn from them, as I really regret not learning Spanish from my mother as a child.
For those of you who do not think they can learn a foreign language, here are a few tips:
-Check out books at the library! Most libraries have resources like books or CDs that can help you learn to speak a foreign language.
-Be sure to take foreign language classes at school, whether they are in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, or something else!
-Watch television or movies in foreign languages with subtitles. By watching such things with their English translations, you can get a decent hang of certain words or phrases.
-Practice, practice, practice! Do not worry, you will make mistakes when learning and speaking a new language. A big part of learning foreign languages is building up confidence in what you are saying. Even if you do not know say things perfectly, people will know what you mean. And most likely, they will be glad to help you.
Anyways, that is all for now. Until next time!