Language Barriers!!!!!!!

Rebecca Bogart - Ecuador


February 21, 2019

I remember being dropped off intomy host family six months back not knowing a single word of Spanish. I was soworried on how I was going to be able to communicate if I can’t speak thelanguage. I started my first month here conversing by using only google translate.It was so stressful and difficult. I would compare myself speaking skills with everyoneelse, since a lot of the other fellows were more advanced since they took Spanishclass all four years of High School and I did not. I would get so sad andfrustrated when the other fellow in my community got along better with myfamily just because he was able to communicate. The language barrier defiantly hada huge impact on my home stay experience being here. At times I felt so stupidjust for not knowing words, evening though being able to speak and learn a newlanguage is difficult and impressive. Every week I would learn new words. I wouldget so frustrated when people didn’t understand me when I would speak so I wouldgo home and spend hours on the computer watching YouTube videos of people speakingSpanish and I would write down all the words I didn’t know in my notebook, thenstudy them. I would listen to a bunch of Spanish music and read the lyrics offto help me pronounce the words better and correctly. Little by little, Inoticed that I started using google translate for everything. I would look upone word at a time, rather then an entire sentence like I would do in the beginning.I realized the only way to seriously learn a new language is to just speak it.I didn’t practice speaking that much since I was always comparing where I wasto everyone else and I was so scared to make mistakes. I didn’t want to feelstupid and that was one of my biggest mistakes. When I started speaking moreand stopped caring about making mistakes, that’s when I improved the most. Inever realized how much my Spanish improved until my parents came to visit me.My parents don’t speak any Spanish, so I had to be the translator. I was soworried that by the time they came to visit me, I still wouldn’t be able tospeak well enough to translate for them. Every time we went out to eat orchecking into a hotel I had to translate. My family took a trip to my city I livein here and I had to translate everything. It was incredibly stressful for me especially when my Dad kept attemptingto speak when clearly, he had no idea what he was saying. My parents were superimpressive with my ability to hold a conversation and translate everything thatthey wanted me to say to them. That’s when I also realized how much my languagespeaking skills improved. Even my host family was impressed. I even have friendsfrom my community who do not speak any English, which I think is insane becauseI would have never thought that I would have friends that don’t speak the same languageas me. Right now, I have about five more weeks here in my host family and I planto learn and practice speaking more and carrying on my skills back home at my University.Living in Florida there is so many Spanish speakers there and people who onlyspeak Spanish and have no English-speaking skills where I can go, and practice speakingto them and even help teach English. My best advice that I have for anyone whois trying to learn a new language and are just getting thrown into a Spanish speakingplace like me is to just go for it. Practice speaking as much as you can and don’tspend too much time studying and don’t ever compare yourself to others. Thelanguage skills are going to come, and you are going to be super impressed withyourself once you see how far you became and what you are capable of doing!

Rebecca Bogart