For the first time, my Spanish-speaking abilities have been put to a true test. All those grades I’ve received through the years were just measures on a GPA-scale. Being in Panama (or any Spanish-speaking country), puts all that knowledge to the real test: using the language in the real world.
I took Spanish classes for two years and fell in love after my first class. When I began, I told myself that if I were to continue learning, I wouldn’t stop until I could speak it well.
I wouldn’t say I’m a great speaker, but I’m surprised by the confidence I have when speaking (even when I can’t find the words and am struggling). The fact is I have no choice but to communicate in a language that is not my native tongue.
My mind gets tired, sometimes I feel as if I forget basic Spanish, and I am not a good listener. That’s one thing I truly need to work on the most.
Being in Panama is challenging me– when I speak I have to sort my words around and sometimes I might pause for a minute before I can figure out how to say something.
I’m getting used to saying certain phrases and tenses, but as I get more confident to speak as I would in Engligh, the harder it gets to puzzle the words together in Spanish.
When I listen, it feels as if I’m trying to make out the muffled screams in a metal song. Alright, maybe it’s not that bad — people are really understanding as to how to communicate with me to so I can understand better. Yet when I listen to conversations between native speakers, that’s definitely the listening experience I have.
All in all, this experience is driving me to practice more — I write out news words to learn that I couldn’t figure out in an earlier conversations, I’m listening to podcasts, and I have a whole month before I return to continue speaking.
If anything, this test is inspiring me to become better. It’s also one that inspiring my next next return to Latin America.