I can read Spanish. I can write Spanish. I can understand Spanish if I’m spoken to slowly.
But I cannot speak Spanish. Nor will I ever.
Let me be more specific: I’m afraid to speak Spanish.
The farthest I go is a random phrase or term of endearment (mi amor) to my boyfriend. But I will not speak to him regularly. I refuse to let him hear me do lessons with the apps I use.
I am embarrassed.
I try. But I always forget:
- Which conjugations are appropriate
- The exceptions to the rules (and there are several)
- Which order is appropriate
- Which freaking word is appropriate for context
- What the heck imperative, subjunctive, and preterite mean (Granted, I don’t know the difference between “past tense” and “part participle” either, but my native tongue is English, so I don’t need to)
- If what I’m trying to say will come out as I intend it to
- How to finish what I want to say (more than once, I’ve tried to say a sentence, only to realize I don’t know a word I need)
Ultimately, I spend more time thinking of how to say what I want to say than saying anything out loud. The person in front of me doesn’t have time to wait for the gears in my head to finish turning, so I speak English before my thought processes can finish.
Naturally, every time I think it’s right, it’s wrong.
I reached the conclusion fluency simply will not happen for me. I never needed it. My reason for picking it up again (after years away) was my boyfriend’s family’s background, but only his mom doesn’t speak English, so it was never a necessity so much as something I merely wanted to do (because my difficulties aside, I genuinely like learning languages; I suck at it, but I like it).
I will continue playing with apps – literacy and chat – because it’s fun, but “bilingual” won’t be on my resume at any point in my lifetime, and “polyglot” is reserved for my long forgotten fan fiction characters.