Learning to Speak

Daniel Schwarz - Ecuador


April 7, 2013

The lights are off. I am sitting. I am thinking. I am counting.

“Tuesday 1, Wednesday 2, Thursday 3, Friday 4, Saturday 5, Sunday 6, Monday 7 Tuesday 8, Wednesday 9, Thursday, 10, Friday, 11, Saturday…12, Sunday…13, Monday 14, Tue….”

I stopped. “15 days” I thought.

I paused, I breathed.

I began to reflect.

I’ve been here for 7 months. The time flew faster than I ever could have imagined. I’ve experienced things that I never would have experienced if I had not come here.  It has, by far, been the best year of my life; the happiest year of my life.I have finally been challenged in a way different from school, and I have loved every second of it.  I have learned a plethora of things; the most dominant being a proficiency in Spanish.

Learning a language during an immersion program is probably one of the most difficult, fun, and rewarding experiences in this world. It starts out a little rough. Well…, it did for me. My Spanish career started in high school; however, my classes were never important to me. I came to Ecuador with no Spanish under my belt. It was frustrating not being able to understand anything, and not being able to talk with people. It was hard and it forced me to learn. After a few months I began to understand more and I started to complete sentences. The more I understood the more frustrated I got with myself. I would finish a sentence, knowing that it didn’t make sense. I could hear how Spanish should be spoken and I struggled to reproduce what I heard.

With time and effort it started to change. I began to understand. That was the key. This allowed me to think about what I wanted to say, instead of trying to figure out what was being said. Thoughts turned to words, and my words landed onto listening ears; I can talk! Now I am able to have a conversation with ease, and most importantly, connect with people on a deeper level.

Saying that, I thought I would have better Spanish by now. I thought I would be fluent. Ha! Fluency is something that is extremely hard to master and it takes time and practice – lots of time and practice. However, due to my studying, my hard work, and constant practicing, I have become completely conversational. Being able to talk and understand another language is incredible. It has been by far the most rewarding learning experience in my life.

Daniel Schwarz