The Conversation that Grew the Tree
I'll start off by saying two relevant things:
I used to hate Spanish.
I love nachos.
I'm a big fan of languages. Huge. I love studying linguistics. I speak English and Russian pretty well. I live in a heavily Hispanic-filled area, and I, being a noble, generous, actually selfish and deceiving person, decided to learn Spanish, in order to impress people and - I mean, in order to be able to communicate with this incredibly interesting culture. What a nice guy.
I stumbled upon Duolingo. The Spanish course seemed pretty awesome from the beginning. I followed through with it for a while, learning some things here and there, and, on a predictably rainy, ugly day, I.... lost motivation. Seriously. The ball of knowledge-gathering was dropped and I lost interest in picking it back up. It was boring, I was making slow progress, I didn't exactly use the language, I started cryi- I mean, feeling rather despondent about continuing studying Spanish.
Then it happened. The conversation that finished my tree, and, more importantly, matured me in a way I wasn't expecting.
I went to a 4th of July party, with lots of fireworks, candy, tequila, and polar bears; your usual Independence day celebration. At this party, I noticed a Mexican woman sitting by herself, watching her child run around playing with the other niños. I don't know when the idea punched me in the confidence and made me decide to go talk to her, but I did. And...
I spoke Spanish.
I mean that, I actually spoke Spanish, the language, the actual language that spanish-speaking people speak, the ''español'', the rapid-fire, beautiful, romance language that is Spanish. I actually spoke it with her! The words spewed out of my mouth with messy conjugations and mixed tenses and other neophyte mistakes, but, I spoke with her!
And the greatest part was that I understood what she said, and more importantly, what she meant. I had a conversation with a native speaker that had weight, that went beyond the basic pleasantries of Hello, and Goodbye. It was such a rewarding experience, and it was at that moment that I decided to learn Spanish to actually connect with people, and not to form false ideas about myself, or to impress people. Understanding her was so great, and it was the impetus behind my finishing the Spanish tree. I went home and finished it within a few weeks.
It's been a great journey, that thankfully isn't over, and hopefully won't be over for under 100 years, but I'm glad I'm in it, and I hope I'm in it for a while.
My encouragement to you all. Finish your trees, keep hope, speak with natives, love the language, nurture it, speak it, BE it.
Goodluck to you all!
This post touched my heart! About a year and a half ago I watched a video of the yound and inspiring Tim Doner speaking in many languages to various people and the smile he put on their faces just because he spoke their language made me smile. I just don't want to learn a language for a better job, then that becomes a chore to learn it. I wanted to learn languages to connect with people, connect with their minds, to put a smile on their face.
I started learning French on Duolingo about a year ago and it was great in the beginning but got too complex as I advanced through the tree so I gave up. I decided to see how Spanish was and low and behold it flowed off my tongue well and despite the complex conjugations and tenses/moods I understood it thanks to be strong dedication to stick with it this time around. And surprisingly it has helped to understand French grammar more. However, I'm not going to bite off more than I can chew this time around and ONLY focus on Spanish because this language has been my best journey so far.
I can actually write to native Spanish speakers online and they tell me my grammar is improving. I believe I can speak it well and somewhat with listening and I want to challenge myself by speaking to a native speaker. I go to the library every week and one of the library clerks is Hispanic. I might find the courage to speak to him one of these days. =D
Lang-8 is what I assume he's talking about. Which, by the way, is fantastic. It's very helpful to connect with natives and have them correct your grammar. I highly recommend it.
I really enjoyed reading you story, very inspiring. I agree with you 100% that being able to actually use a language to communicate with others is the most rewarding and motivating experience one can have with languages. I have taken Spanish for several years in school, and it is one thing taking notes and studying vocabulary and grammar. To actually use that knowledge to communicate with others was an eye-opening experience, you really do have the world at your fingertips with languages. By talking with native speakers of Spanish, I have learned more about the culture and people in general than I ever did in my several years in the classroom. So, I whole-heartedly encourage anyone trying to learn a language to keep going and you will soon see that it is worth the effort. Enjoy your journey, and have fun!
I loved your inspiring story. Great use of wordplay ;) I'd love to have the opportunity to hone my skills with a native, but I'm not confident enough yet. Perhaps when I finish my tree I'll be ready!
beautifully great, especially your last words : ''My encouragement to you all. Finish your trees, keep hope, speak with natives, love the language, nurture it, speak it, BE it.'' i dare take your advice and gonna keep learning these tough lessons , Thanks A lot !!!
I live in north east England---- unfortunately there are NO Spanish people live here--- wish there was---I need to learn Spanish for my own pride
I am fluent and I am getting better, but worse at English but I remember and get better in both languages so everyone work hard!
Me parece interesante tu post, solo no entendí la parte de "polar bears". Estoy haciendo italiano pero no puedo hacerlo desde mi lengua madre que es el español, lo debo hacer desde inglés entonces a veces me aburre un poco. Gracias por compartir este espacio.
Es lo mismo para mí. Tengo que estudiar español desde inglés, aunque mi lengua madre es ruso.
Wow, that's great! I hope that when I get my opportunity to talk to a native speaker I'll have the courage to talk to them also. :) Learning a new language opens up a whole new world!
Nicely written and so true! You have a silver tongue, my friend. But yes, there is nothing more inspiring than actually using the language to connect with someone! I was fortunate to be "partially immersed" in the hispanic culture for many years. Love the language, the people, and the culture.
¡Felicidades! I'm glad you were able to use and understand it and finish your tree~! I myself am almost finished, and this post is very inspiring and motivating!
Nice history! I´m learning English. Me gustaría algun día poder disfrutar con esta lengua tanto como con el español. Have a good summer!
I'm quiet lucky because most of my family speak Spanish (as we are part Spanish so I can try to have a conversation with them
This is WOW!! You can make anyone learn spanish. I mean it. The way you shared your story is really wonderful.
Lingot for that brilliant post. I've never got to use my language (French, and now learning Dutch) skills in real life except when abroad since I live in a very uncultural area ;-;
What a great post! Thank you for sharing! :) I think it's easy for me, living in an area with few Spanish speakers, to remember that that is the ultimate goal - to connect deeply with people I don't know and can't communicate with any other way.
don't give up! keep pushin'! You didn't make three months worth of progress for nothing!
It's amazing just how strong of a connection you can build with someone by speaking their native language. The area that i live in is not quite densely populated with Spanish-speaking individuals. However, when i do come across a Hispanic and indulge in a conversation with said person in their native tongue, it almost seems to brighten their day in some way and I can notice their increased interest in what I have to say. I can't wait to finish my tree and be fluent.
really enjoyed the story you inspired me to carry on learning Spanish and can you now speak Spanish