Today I wanted to share a personal story that I hope will resonate with you and hopefully give you a little boost in confianza!
As you may know, I’m not a native Spanish speaker. I’m a learned Spanish speaker (and in some ways I think that’s super way more awesome than being a native speaker!). I have spent 12 years of my life speaking Spanish – first with co workers, then in my high school classes, and finally while living, studying and working in Spain. All of this came about by small acts of risk-taking, which in turn built up my confidence – not the other way around!
Today I’d like to open up about when I first realized that risk-taking is KEY to learning another language.
It was 2012. I was working at an elementary school, but I needed some extra income to pay off my student loans. I looked online for local jobs listings and saw a listing for an office assistant at a bilingual (English-Spanish) law firms. Proficient Spanish was a requirement for the job.
At first, I skipped past that ad. I’m not a native speaker. It’s law, and I’m not familiar with that field. I make mistakes when I speak Spanish.
Then, I thought of Kató Lomb (a famous and asombrosa Hungarian self-made polyglot who started interpreting a foreign language months after she started studying it) and I thought of my 18 year old self going off to Spain by herself with her biggest fear being the airplane ride over, and then I applied.
During the interview, I was a sweaty, nervous mess. The lawyer asked me about my Spanish skills, and I just started speaking in Spanish (a bit like verbal vomit, but my Spanish was well-practiced and integrated). Ahora estoy trabajando en una escuela primaria y quiero tener otro trabajo, especialmente dónde puedo usar mi español. Later I found out my Spanish was better than the lawyer’s!
On my first day, and I successfully translated a legal form from Spanish to English, then called a client on the phone to ask him follow-up questions and clarifications (all in Spanish). My mouth was dry from being nervous (and from forgetting my water bottle). Sometimes my tongue didn’t roll right for the ‘r’s. I was sweating, and kept saying “ok” in English.
But I did it! I led someone through a legal document in Spanish and translated it as well. A small, but difficult task.
The lessons I learned were to put yourself out there, take a risk, and have faith in your talents!
Keep in mind that at that point I had been learning and using Spanish for about 8 years. As you can see from this story, Spanish has been the tool that has gotten me jobs, study opportunities across the world and made travel easy.
That’s why I teach Spanish online now. The kind of people that I admire most in this world are the ones who have “made it” and turn back around to help others. Likewise, the kind of people I admire least are the ones who have “made it” and then turn around and slam the door.
So, muchas gracias por leer estas palabras mías (thanks for reading these words of mine!), and I truly hope that I can help you on your Spanish journey!