Something must be wrong with me. Why, oh, why, after…let’s see…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…oh, I’ve lost count at this point, of different attempts with private and small group tutoring, am I STILL struggling to be fluent in Spanish??? I’ve done Berlitz, like way back in the early ’90s when cassette tapes were all the rage (am I aging myself). I went to Instituto Cervantes. The others escape me. The last bit of lessons were private with a friend of a friend who was patient and funny. But, that was a while ago at this point.
I’ve been to Spain several times. Okay, here’s the thing. If you live in the paella that is La Ciuidad de Nueva York (New York City), you have the flava (that’s “flavor” for all you non-urban folks) of Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side. Between the Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Cubans, Mexicans, etc., etc., etc., you’ll keep up with Spanish words, some more colorful that others, but the Spanish you hear in the Boogie Down Bronx is not the Spanish you hear in Spain. Nooooo. I always have to brush up on my Spanish before heading to España (Spain) or I wouldn’t be able to function.
Unconsciously, I guess because I really don’t want to lose what I have, several times a week I’ll flip through the television channels and land on Univision. Between the telenovelas (soap operas) — which if you don’t know is filled with melodrama, highly dolled up women, scheming men and women, spying, love affairs to make Elizabeth Taylor in her heyday blush, and of course, death (someone is always dying or someone is always plotting to send someone else into the White Light) — not to mention the scandalous talk shows, news programmes and beauty queen contests (it’s not just a Latin-thing, it’s really a Caribbean-Latin thing — we loooooove our beauty queen contests and bathing suit models), you can keep up with Spanish 60% of the time. The other 40% goes way over your head. The way they speak — I don’t know what it is — but especially the news programmes, they’re fitting 60 words in 60 seconds of coverage. I’m serious. If you don’t believe me, watch any time slot of Univision’s Noticias (News) or “Aqui y Ahora” (Here and Now). For some reason when I’m in Spain I do much better with conversations and television programmes.
So, do I just throw my hands in the air and give up? I mean, I’ve been at one point or another studying Spanish for over 30 years! I should be busting out the Español in stereo! There’s a reason for this road block…
Okay, you sofa psychologists, what do you think?