Junior year, I had the option of taking a Spanish class or French class, it was a no brainer which one I would obviously select but little did I know my Spanish was imperfect. Growing up “Antes a mi me gustaba hablar mas el Espanol que el Ingles” I remember traveling to Mexico and refusing to speak English over there. “Jajajaja” Laughter in the air, a cool breeze running through my hair those nights in Mexico were very precious to me, I was able to crack jokes, have a deep and meaningful conversation with my relatives in Spanish. But now that’s not the case, I wish I could still communicate with them as good as I did when I was younger, truth is I lost my Spanish.
As the years passed, English became my dominant language and lacked practice speaking Spanish which is something I’m not proud of. I felt a sense of guilt, I should be able to keep my language alive. Although Spanish is spoken in many countries, they all are different in their own ways. I’m Mexican, so my Spanish has a different accent, slang, and meanings. For example, Mexicans would say “no manches” to say no kidding or no way but to someone who is Dominican they would have no idea what that means. Sometimes us Spanish speaking countries use the same words but have different meanings, Mexicans use “chafa” to describe something cheap or of low quality but the Honduran term for “chafa” is the armed forces.
I sometimes think about the future and wonder will I be able to communicate with my people? Or will they think I’m just another American coming to Mexico for vacation knowing nothing about the Mexican slang or culture? I wonder when I speak do I appear from a different Spanish speaking country and not one of their own?
Taking a Spanish class Junior year, thinking it would be easy was very naive of me. My non-Spanish speaking friends, like Hermidine and Mahir, would come up to me and ask “hey can you help me with this?” But in all honesty, I didn’t know much either. It was a constant battle between what I wanted to write versus what I was capable of writing, adding accents was such a pain too. “Arlyn, Puedes leer la estoria para mi?” Slowly my face turns red, as I cough trying to clear my throat and tremble as I read the first word of the passage. The number of times I wanted to hide my face somewhere whenever I was asked to read aloud to the class in Spanish because I didn’t want others to know my struggle with Spanish. In my head, I could pronounce a word perfectly fine but when it came down to me saying it out loud I just sounded like someone who just started speaking the language. I didn’t want to be a person who’s from a Spanish speaking country who didn’t know the language at all. Although I know quite a few people who don’t speak it at all and would be called “gringo” for not knowing their native language.
I noticed that I didn’t get enough practice and so with time I started losing my accent and begin to stumble on words or give up and say what I meant in English instead of Spanish. I knew this Spanish class was going to be helpful for me but I definitely took it for granted. I would sit in the back of the class and fool around with my friends, making jokes not realizing I should’ve paid attention to the lesson knowing it would be beneficial. Although, my mother and my older sister have seen an improvement in my speaking and writing, so in some ways even if I felt like I could’ve done more to improve. It’s the little steps that are getting me there.