Yes, I am prone to exaggerations. My Thai is hardly a mound of ashes, though it did come remarkably close to one in the last couple of months. With our future in Bangkok an uncertain one, and a host of other worries on our plates, I’ve been a very naughty language student.
Utterly unmotivated, I should have put my classes on hold and gifted them if we ended up leaving Bangkok. But hindsight is all too often useless. Instead, I attended here and there, wasting precious hours and retaining absolutely nothing, nor really maintaining what I had. Shame on me.
I’ll omit the self-berating monologue that has been on repeat play in my brain. It just isn’t productive. And when I can shut it up for a time, this has been an extremely valuable lesson in why one should heed Horace’s advice: Carpe Diem, imbedded into my generation’s brain by the inestimable Robin Williams.
You see dear reader, once I knew we were staying here and I had no more bahts to pay for classes when my package ran out, I realized how much I’d wasted. I’ve since really put some effort into getting my Thai back on track. What surprised me the most wasn’t just the renewed and strengthened desire to speak Thai; it was the realization of all the missed opportunities I’ve had over the last fifteen years to perfect my Spanish. (Read: speak in anything other than the present tense).
I worked for a Spanish-speaking employer for nearly five years along with his sister and his Spanish wife. Over the course of my employment there, I had two Spanish colleagues and most of our clientele was from Latin America and Spain. My mother and eldest brother are both fluent in Spanish. My godfather is from Argentina, and I’ve been together with my Mexican husband for nearly ten years. Seven of those were spent in NYC, often in predominantly Latin neighborhoods. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US, as was widely evident in my double-period Spanish class where most of the students already spoke Spanish at home.
It bears repeating. My husband is Mexican. Seriously. I live with a fluent Spanish speaker. Say it with me slowly: S-H-A-M-E. Go on, you can do the forefinger rub. I deserve it.
I can give you a million and one reasons why I haven’t improved past advanced beginner, and some of them are actually as pretty good. But the truth is, I have no excuse.
When I picture myself in my dreams, as the person I’d like to be, I am always able to navigate flawlessly through Spanish conversations. I’ve held off reading a host of wonderful Spanish writers in the knowledge that someday I will read them in their original form. I see my children, who are half-Mexican, telling their Abuelita about their week in Spanish on weekly calls. And I see myself calling her to catch up and tell her all about her grand-daughters lives and get sneaky ‘home-cooked’ mexican recipes to surprise my husband.
None of this will happen, if I don’t get off my ‘nachas’ and do this. I owe it to myself, I owe it to my extended family and, most of all, I owe it to my daughters.
Great post! I understand the frustration of learning a new language, especially a hard one like Thai, besides being a wife and mother, so don’t beat yourself up for being a “naughty language student”.
As for Spanish, I’m sure if you are truly determined to pick it up, you can. After all, you live with a fluent speaker, and have all kinds of motivations of doing it.
Pingback: August Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism is here! | Best4Future Blog: Bringing Up Baby Bilingual