Multiple language fiddle

Last night I was speaking Spanish and French at a party in Kingston. This was after a lot of drinks and pretty late in the night, but I found it interesting that I was actually able to follow and keep certain conversations going. I was speaking more Spanish than French with a guy from Spain and it was pretty exciting to have reasonable language ability in that regard. But the funny thing is, I cannot remember the last time I’ve spoken Spanish.

I took Spanish for a few years in high school like most Jamaican kids, and i did a class or two in university. Reading Spanish these days isn’t terribly difficult. I probably made a post here at some point, when i was reading this Spanish magazine on an airplane flight ( I understood about 85% of what i was reading) and I was shocked because I hadn’t looked at or even absorbed Spanish material for many years.

Since i’ve started French (which is flagging slightly, but not gone) I haven’t had any Spanish focus, but i’ve had to send a few e-mails written in Spanish to someone recently, and the grammatical similarities between French and Spanish are actually quite helpful. The pronunciation is VASTLY different, so I find that thinking in Spanish and French feel quite different.

I am not on a Spanish agenda right now, but I am seeing that it might be easier to strengthen my Spanish after really going hardcore with French. The major challenge I am having with French is getting comfortable with spoken French. The words are still somewhat of a blur when people speak, and there are so many contractions that many words sound a lot like other words (which obviously can be frustrating at time). Reading French isn’t terrible, because I know upper intermediate grammar and i’m building a steady vocabulary base.

But i am seeing that the “strength” that will come with gaining proficiency with French will immediately equate to an increased strength in Spanish. So the aim for functional ability in Japanese, French and Spanish is a slowly emerging reality. I’m tempted to dive into German when I start my Japanese reactivation phase, simply because I am meeting so many Germans in Jamaica that I can actually practice with.

There is something about running into someone from a  foreign country traveling somewhere else and then chatting to them in their native language that sparks this specific.. energy and vibe.

Depending on your ability, some people might prefer English (because they assume you will not be able to speak to them fluently) but either way its a very interesting door opener. I am very curious to experience a day in the near future when I am traveling and need to actively use multiple languages.

But the last thing i am noticing is that what I read on Beeny the Irish Polygot’s website the other day about the ” ultimate language learning system ” being HB 2.0 is true.

HB stands for “human being”. You can’t really beat that.

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About marcusbird

Writer, Designer, Filmmaker
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