¿Hablás español?

I do. Sort of. Translation: my English-speaking friends admire what they take to be my fluent Spanish; my Spanish-speaking friends know that is far from the actuality.  I do try. I try hard. I’m not afraid to make mistakes or sound silly.  So if I find myself where Spanish is spoken (even if English is spoken too), I’ll be trotting out my Learner’s Permit Spanish and trying to make myself understood.  It’s often good enough that my opening remark or question in Spanish unleashes a response in my hoped-for second language at near warp speed.  Meaning that for me, as for many Spanish learners, the phrase mas despacio, por favor (more slowly, please) is well-used.

Achieving real fluency is my goal. I yearn to be bilingual. Spanish Immersion is an obvious route to that goal.  It’s been my long-standing, but until now muchprocrastinated, plan.  What put it off?  Somehow, finding the time, choosing the best from among a seemingly infinite choice of programs in an amazing choice of cities and countries, getting the best airfare to reach my chosen destination.. it all seemed daunting.  The choices aren’t really so difficult, but the multiple options magically morphed into roadblocks.  To be honest, one of the biggest was the decision on whether to do a home stay with a Spanish speaking family or not.  Privacy and comfort argue in favor of a hotel, but true immersion and making the most of the opportunity argue clearly for the home stay.  Debating all of the choices became an endless loop.

Then, at a recent event, Fate sat me next to someone recently returned from an immersion program in Ensenada.  Our own back yard.  I sat to his right, overhearing his fluent conversation with the Spanish-speaker on his left.  Like me, he spoke intermediate level Spanish before heading off to the program, and he felt he’d made major strides there.  He loved the home he’d been assigned for his home stay.

Bingo.  Decision made.  Allowing myself no leeway to procrastinate further, I fired off the email registration and head there in mid-May.

The Dream Plan?  Coming home totally at ease with the language.  The Realistic Plan: coming home with significant improvement, and an opportunity to head back – since it’s so close – for weekend or week-long second, third or fourth chances to keep improving.

I’ve made some appropriate resolutions: Not to spend free time hanging with English speakers and chatting in English.  Taking some Spanish pleasure reading with me and reading only in Spanish; no online activity in English (if I even have easy access to the Internet; who knows?)

So that’s the “Before.”  Stay tuned to find out the “After.” ¡Hasta la proxima! (until next time).

About Susan Shea

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