Living Between Two Languages

After four weeks of living in Madrid, Spain I am quickly learning to cognitively maneuver between English and Spanish. But, not every time is successful. Here are 5 ways living between two languages has affected me.

1. Forgetting Words In My Native Language

In class, my professor will introduce new vocabulary and explain each word in Spanish; he then asks what the word is in English. And I blank. I completely understand what he’s defining but the word in English is G.O.N.E.

2. Now Identifying my Language as: Spanglish

I don’t speak English 24/7 nor do I speak Spanish 24/7. I can be in mid-sentence and all of a sudden switch languages.

3. I Think About English Differently, especially while writing it

Story Time: My Mom texted me and asked about how my day was so far and I responded with: “It’s been long! We have been studying all day for our exam that we have tomorrow. Now we are off to the movies for a class trip!” That by no means is a normal way to text, at least for me. And there was only one contraction! I definitely was thinking in Spanish and translated it to English, or whatever you’d call that.

4. Adopting Spanish Gestures and Expressions

While Spaniards tell stories it is your job as the listener to be expressive, attentive, and animated. So, I now am very dramatic when someone talks to me even in English!

5. Being More Confident

As I am trying to use any moment I can to speak Spanish, I have become even more so talkative! On the metro I like when I meet someone who engages in a conversation with me, or between classes when students from other countries who still speak English like to speak Spanish with me. So, learning a new language has definitely made me gain confidence and comfortability communicating with others.

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