Tag Archives: spanish

Language Date

A few hours before meeting Carlos this evening, my stomach was in knots. It was the same feeling I get in my gut on the day of a first date. Except this wasn’t a first date per se; it was a language date. Despite having plenty of friends who speak Spanish fluently, I’ve never actually spoken Spanish with them. Whether out of stage fright or laziness, it’s just never happened. So instead, I joined Conversation Exchange a few weeks back after feeling particularly bold and desiring of Spanish skills. On the site, you exchange messages with people who also want to practice their language skills. I want to speak Spanish and am a native English speaker; my partners desire the opposite.

After multiple messages (a la OKCupid), Carlos and I set up a date to meet in person. Just like first dates, I felt like canceling the entire day. “I am terrible at Spanish. I’ll never need it!” I tell myself all day. And while my back up plan in life is to move to South America, I figured that I can “learn it another day, another time, when I’ve had more practice in the solitude of my own bedroom.”

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Me Llamo Ashley

When choosing my high school courses, the consideration I took into my foreign language decision was twofold:

1. Which language is prettier – French or Spanish?

2. Do I want to visit Paris or Mexico?

Conspicuously missing was the most important question: how useful is each language? In my defense, Spanish wasn’t as widespread as it is now. Signs and answering services were only in English; there was no “press 1 for English; presione dos para Español”. 

After deciding upon how gorgeous the Eiffel Tower surely must be, I chose to take French. For all four years of high school, I studied conjugations, determined the difference between Gauguin and Matisse, and discovered the power of Pierre et Fifi. At the end of high school, I was certain I’d get my degree in international business and French. And thennnn I took a semester of it in college and realized I suck at foreign language. I’m quite good – even still – at reading it, but I am awful at both speaking and understanding spoken language. I fulfilled my one-semester foreign language requirement and tossed all knowledge from my brain. The one and only time since then that I’ve used my French was the three days I spent in Paris this summer. I could have no conversations, but I read those menus damn well! And as much as I adored Paris, I probably won’t ever need my French again. 

Fast forward 15 years to 2013…I’m living in Logan Square and dating a Latino. Spanish has become much more prevalent in the world. Based on my previous language-learning experience, I couldn’t very well expect to be a master, but the relevance of the language presented itself to me. Despite no longer dating aforementioned Latino (though, side note, the search bar in POF is set on Hispanic haha), my interest in learning Español has remained. I don’t expect to know it well or to learn it quickly, but I am doing my part to learn it in small quantities. I recently downloaded an app called Cat Spanish, borrowed Pimsleur’s Spanish recorded CDs from the library, and use live online tutors on a website called Live Mocha. I even have my own personal tutor: my Little Sister who has vowed to teach me a Spanish phrase each time we meet; she’s very excited that I’m learning it! 

So while French may come in handy in my dream life in Paris, I’m hoping that Spanish will help me decipher signs throughout the neighborhood and maybe even get me a new Latin lovah. 😉