Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Language Journey Part II: Adolescence

It was during middle school that I started to reconnect with my love for the Spanish language. During my elementary years, I was quickly immersed into the English language that it felt I somewhat neglected the Spanish language. After watching many Spanish news broadcasts, shows, and listening to lyrics for different songs, I wanted to use the language in ways that went beyond speaking and listening. At this point, I began to take an interest in reading and writing in Spanish. This new interest was also motivated by my need to communicate with my grandmother in Mexico. I started to write her letters and sound out words. My mother assisted by proofreading my letters and also building my vocabulary. I remember her using more advanced and less common words. It is no doubt that this time in my life opened my eyes to the many possibilities available in Spanish.

In high school, however, for my language requirement, I chose French over Spanish. I chose French instead of Spanish because I was curious to try out a new language and culture. Though I took French for four years, the language proved to be more difficult and my interests and efforts towards fluency quickly declined.

After having studied language acquisition on the graduate level, I attribute my failure in learning French to my own habits as a learner. As I reflect on the whole experience, I could point out many things I could have done to make my learning experience more successful than it was. First, I did not use my knowledge of the Spanish language to help me learn French. This approach could have assisted me in learning grammar. Second, I did not practice speaking or reading French outside of class. Somehow I expected to learn what I needed in the context of the classroom. A combination of these factors had an impact on my attempt to learn a third language.

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