Sunday, November 25, 2012

So Upset I Forgot My Spanish (Almost)

The Plaza de Armas 
(Main Square) 
Barranco District of Lima, Perú

One of my blog subscribers chided me because some of my posts deal with occurrences in the past. Bloggers have varying reasons for posting their thoughts and feelings. I, for one, like to post thoughts and feelings that may happen today, yesterday, or about something anticipated in the future. It all depends on how I feel. For example, this particular incident happened in Lima, Perú in , and it's about how I almost forgot my Spanish.

Every year, I make it a point to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, mostly Perú, because of my family-like connections. October 2005, was my first time in that country. My purpose was to be totally immersed in the Spanish language as I've been teaching myself out of books for a good number of years. In fact, I'm still teaching myself out of books and CDs.

I was staying in the Barranco District of Lima, which is considered to be the city's most romantic and bohemian. It's the home and working place of many of Peru's leading artists, musicians, designers and photographers. One day, I went into a restaurant serving criollo food, which is food with an Afro-Peruvian influence. I felt slighted by the waitress so I demanded to speak with the manager. My true language challenge arose when the manager came to my table. I was so upset, I almost forgot every Spanish word I learned. I managed to eek out a question, asking if he speaks English. I was so disappointed when he said no because I had to register my complaint in Spanish. Although, I struggled though it, I made my point, and the service made a complete turnaround for the better.

The moral of my personal story is that total immersion is the way to go if you really want to learn to speak another language. This frustrating restaurant experience was really a growth opportunity in disguise.


  1. Something, not to this degree, happened to me at a staff meeting. We were all in there and the boss asks who Speaks Spanish.. Everyone says my name and looks at me. He asked me how to say a simple word in Spanish and I totally freaked. It too was a growth opportunity in disguise. I was mortified at the fear that I experienced for that moment. This is why I have so much trouble speaking to natives - I get scared.

    What advice do you for an African American woman wanting to travel to a Spanish Speaking country to definitely immerse and learn the langauge, but have yet to leave the US? Which country do you think is best and still working on my Spanish.


    Love your blog!

    1. Hi Angel,
      Thanks for reading my blog and posting your comments. To answer your question, I would propose that you arrange a vacation of at least two weeks and enroll in an immersion school of the country you are going to visit. In an immersion school, you will be taught by teachers who don't speak English. You will be assigned tutors who don't speak English, and you will be staying with a family who don't speak English. This forces you to “think” in Spanish as well as converse.

      The first time I did this was when I was in Cuba. I chose Cuba because I'm a salsa music lover. I used to wake up in the morning thinking in Spanish, that's how immersed I was. In terms of the best country, that would depend on your motive for travel. For instance, I choose countries with a large Black populatios and countries where I like the music. However, the cheapest are Antigua, Guatemala (good quality school), and Quito, Ecuador.

      If you choose Perú, Ecuador, or Colombia, I can hook you up with some friends.


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