I am not quite sure what I thought learning Spanish would be like. Actually, that’s not true. On some level, I thought that once I heard a word once, I would remember it. As in, I would learn one word at a time, and learn some language patterns, and then it would be fine. I would be go to good.
Turns out, for me, learning Spanish is not like that at all. Here are some updates on my Spanish-learning journey:
- After being confused as to why my yoga teacher kept referring to milk during yoga class, I learned the difference between la leche, milk, and derecha, right.
- After an embarrassing and confusing ordering mix-up, I learned the difference between jamón, ham, and salmón, salmon.
- After describing a woman as ¨wearing cats,¨ I learned the difference between gatos, cats, and gafas, glasses.
Like with any learning process, we learn more from our mistakes than from our triumphs. However, I am noticing some patterns in my language acquisition. I’m realizing it takes me about six or seven times of hearing the word, and being given the knowledge of what it is, before I am able to recognize it consistently, and about six or seven times of using it in context before I am able to authentically integrate it into my vocabulary and recall it at will.
When I discovered this, I spent about two days feeling extremely frustrated I couldn’t remember a word after I heard it or looked it up once. Then, my mom gave me a good reality check. She said, ¨Lauren, it takes human beings about 18 months before they start talking, even a little bit. They spend all that time listening. Calm down.¨ After going to another yoga class, and listening, I realized, she is right. Calming down, is a good idea.
Honestly, the acquisition of new vocabulary words in English isn’t all that different for me, even at this stage in my academic English career. For completely new or unknown vocabulary words, it takes me multiple times of using and hearing the word before it is integrated into my everyday vocabulary. I am not sure why I thought learning a different language I didn’t know at all would be easier than learning a language I’ve studied extensively and use daily.
Now though, I’m committed to the process. I’m accepting the fact that it’s going to take me about 14 times before I consistently get it right (or almost-right, at any rate).
I am currently in week two of a Level A1 intensive Spanish class, and I have my third and final week of summer class next week. I’ll start up again in fall, and my goal is to pass the exam so I can enter Level A2.
In the mean time, that’s going to mean a lot of studying, practicing, and messing up. I’ll keep you posted.