When I first went to Spain in the spring of 2008, I expected to come back “fluent,” whatever that means. I thought being in a Spanish-speaking country automatically equaled fluency. How wrong I was.
Study abroad didn’t do a whole lot for my Spanish skills. Honestly, they were a lot of English speakers and English speaking is just too easy. I had intercambios, conversation exchange partners, but that was only a few times per week and language immersion requires more than that.
I came back home with better Spanish skills, but nowhere near fluent. My senior year was spent wanting more. I was frustrated by the lack of Spanish opportunities in Indiana. I decided to go back.
By chance, when I went back in September, I met this boy.
He happens to speak perfect Spanish, too. Weird coincidence as he’s Spanish, huh? He really is the reason for my level of Spanish today. Whenever I have a “doubt,” as they say in Spanish, I ask him. He’s like my own personal WordReference in the flesh, but I can actually touch him, see him, talk to him, listen to him.
I have improved 100% in the last few years. This is due to a combination of reasons: hard work, luck, ability, environment…but the number one reason? His name is Mario. His unending patience with me is “to blame.” Time with native speakers is often the key. Well, Mario is my native speaker. He is unendingly patient, unendingly willing to answer the questions that arise as I read the newspaper. I cannot be more grateful for that.
I often get nervous when I speak Spanish. It’s part of my personality. But sometimes, just once in a while, my Spanish seems flawless, my accent non-existent. Who do I owe this to? Mario. Speaking to him, listening to him, asking him hundreds of questions…all those things helped me to be the Spanish speaker I am today. Thanks, love. I promise to help you achieve this in English, although it will be nowhere near as much work. Your English is already pretty flawless. After all, in London, you had to be the interpeter….that English English was so confusing.