Tag Archives: passive digestive learning

Español es Una Montaña Rusa Para Mi

The tools of the trade.

The tools of the trade.

As diplomats we are given the chance to learn languages as rare and unknown as Quechua and as common as French.  This opportunity is at once a rare luxury and a humbling mind warp.  More than two years ago, when I finished studying Arabic and headed off for the Persian Gulf to serve in Bahrain, I thought that most likely I would head to another Arabic or English-designated posting for my second tour, but I fortunate enough to receive Spanish training for my consular assignment to Honduras.

Unlike Arabic, I immediately found Spanish appealing.  Arabic was a struggle the whole way through, with deep periods of disappointment, as it seemed I would never be able to communicate with any degree of comfort.  It’s true that today, if someone asked me if I speak Arabic, I would be dishonest to reply with anything more than “A very little bit, nothing more.”  Spanish, on the other hand, I soon discovered, was all around me in Washington.  If I wanted to I could completely immerse myself in the language without feeling distant from where I live here and now.  I was very excited about all the Spanish I would be speaking and the people I would be speaking Spanish with in the District.  That feeling faded about a month in, when I realized it was not going to be all pupusas and cerveza on the way to learning the mother tongue of Miquel de Cervantes, nor was I going to be speed-reading Don Quixote anytime soon.

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