Well meaning folk sit down and chat to me… in Spanish. I die a little inside, give them my biggest grin and tell them I don’t understand (no entiendo), I don’t speak Spanish (no hablo Español) I’m sorry (Lo siento) I’m learning (estoy aprendiendo). Then I whip out my pocket book of Spanish grammar and phrases, starring at it willing the jumble of unfamiliar words to magically sink in and spill out of my mouth like I’ve been speaking Spanish for years. It never happens. They keep talking… in Spanish. I get awkward and find a new inconspicuous place to sit. Arghhhhh!
Also why is it that every time I go to speak or structure a sentence I can do it but in German or French, more often a combo of the two. I was unbelievably shite at languages at school with no inclination to learn. But it appears it’s all there, deep down in a very cobwebby part of my brain. Oh joy, it’s decided to reappear now, just to wreck my head. Tempted to jump on a train three hours north into the south of France and wait for the Spanish to flow.
Barcelona has the added confusion of being in Catalonia (Catalunya). So although Spanish is widely spoken, so is Catalan. Street signs sometimes only appear in Catalan, as do some menus etc. So I think I’m learning a new Spanish word but nope! I’d love to learn Catalan too but I think my head would explode if I try and do that now, so I’m sorry locals but you’ll have to bear with me.
What amuses me is that I’ve kind of done this before, a lifetime ago. I lived and worked on the Spanish island of Ibiza. This is not the same! I easily got by with no Spanish, it’s disgraceful really. 12 years later and I’m doing this properly.
Google translate has saved me on multiple occasions. Just last night I had an electrician at my apartment. We were in fits of giggles as we communicated with elaborate hand gestures, pointing and the invaluable help of the wonderful app that translated our words and meant we could communicate.
I know learning a new language can’t possibly happen over night. Poco a poco as they say! But just like during my travels around Latin America I’m only getting a fraction of the picture. I want to throw myself head-first into my new life but to do that I have to understand what on earth everyone is saying. I do know this is the best possible way to learn though and I’m embracing it.
I hope one day I’ll look back at this blog post and chuckle. I’ll be reading, writing, speaking, thinking and even dreaming in Spanish. But for now it’s back to the lessons, app, CD and books. Wish me luck!