I’m going to make an embarrassing confession. I’ve lived in Buenos Aires for five months and I haven’t learned very much Spanish. I mean, I know more each day, but I still don’t feel confident speaking it, and I panic if I have to. It’s all my fault, I lack motivation and instead of learning a new language I do other things like read books in English and write endlessly on my blog.
Curiously I can read quite a lot in Spanish. I don’t know what that’s about. I know that a door is “puerta” and that a strawberry is “frutilla” but that’s where it ends really. Last night it was raining so I learned to say “está lluvia” which means “it is raining.” I know when buying fruit to ask “cuonto cuesta” which is “how much does it cost” but when the grocer speaks back to me I tense up and get lost. If I want one more beer I know to say “uno más cerveza.” This week a man yelled “puta”, or was it “puto?” to me which I learned was the equivalent to calling someone a “fag.” I know my numbers, I know the alphabet, I know some colours, I know a lot of the basics. Get off my back already!
I’ve asked a lot of expats how long it took them to learn Spanish and the answers vary. The tour guide on my art walk told me it took her three months to learn and six months to speak fluently! My instructor at International House in Toronto told me that it usually takes about a year to be comfortable with speaking a new language. This makes me feel better about myself.
I should practice more but I have to tune out those who think that I should be speaking fluent Spanish by now. It’s making me feel bad and affecting my confidence. I guess I get insecure if I mispronounce a word or something. I know that if I don’t feel comfortable I’ll get too shy to try. Unfortunately Argentines can be brutal with teasing me about my poor Spanish skills and I know I should laugh, but instead I get sad. I’m so sensitive.
I’m going to try and make a better effort. In a month I will speak more. I’m not promising anything though.
Te amo mucho!