Getting back into Spanish
by Amy Lambert on Thursday, January 13, 2011
After a stressful departure that included weighing my suitcases to the exact milligram, saying goodbye to the parents and a huge queue at security, I was now sitting on the plane ready to jet off and start my adventure in Spain. I had a six month internship in Salamanca, a city that I was told was home to friendly inhabitants, fantastic architecture, a great university and exciting nightlife too! I had everything to look forward to, but I couldn’t help being just a little bit petrified. And all for one reason – speaking Spanish, with real Spaniards.
Having spent the last six months in France, I was feeling pretty used to the whole moving around thing, but I just couldn’t prepare myself for having to converse in a language that I hadn’t spoken in such a long time and which had never been that great in the first place! So there I was on the plane, trying desperately to think up all the words I could possibly need, look them up in my pocket dictionary and submit them to memory. But with little success. I was going to have to do it the hard way and jump in at the deep end.
And, surprisingly, I didn’t drown. Obviously the arrival was difficult, trying to find out where my flat was and directing the taxi driver, but having gone straight into a Don Quijote Spanish language course that day, I found that the words were slowly coming back to me. It has to be said that ser and estar were used very haphazardly, but the teachers were supportive and my class were all at the same level as me, allowing to each of us to gain confidence and start speaking more fluently. Plus I had my work and my efforts to settle in to the Salmantino lifestyle to help me on my way, and after just a few days I was already chatting to the locals (who are indeed very friendly!)
This is just the start of my journey and I’m hoping to improve a lot more during my stay, but after less than two weeks, I’m finding I need the phrases ‘¿cómo?’ and ‘no entiendo’ a lot less frequently. I think it just proves how total emersion in a language and culture can do what no grammar book ever will.
Keywords: Salamanca,don Quijote,in-country language immersion,live spanish in Salamanca