Language Learning Fun

So, being the funny person that I am finding humor in everything, I have found humor as I continue studying and learning Spanish. One funny thing that I have come across is the transition from English to Spanish and back. What do I mean by this? Well, have you ever been speaking in your native tongue, started speaking in another and not really realizing it? Speaking the the other language as if it was your own? Yet, once you realize you are speaking that foreign tongue, you just lose all thought and revert back to thinking in your native tongue before translating to the next? This is me currently on a daily basis. I can walk out of my hotel and speak as if I have always lived in Mexico. When I go to work, for the most part I don’t think about what I say but when I do, I mix up words like crazy!

Taken by the Author in Guanajuato City, Mexico

I travel a lot to Mexico and love it there. It gives me a chance to practice my skills and get better and the food is phenomenal. I can’t help but be fascinated with the way people speak and the annunciations of things. Which brings me back to me speaking Spanish and English. I wonder, how do bilinguals do it or even those who are fortunate enough to speak more than two? What does it feel like in their brains when they can fully understand another language as if it were their own? Are they confused? When does this happen and how did it work for them? The transition I mean?

I had to know this answer so I asked several of my friends who spoke Spanish first and then English and I asked those who were raised learning both of them at the same time. Surprisingly, they couldn’t remember when the change started to happen. Research provides two views. “There are two views: One is that bilinguals have different processing modes for their two languages — they have a mode for processing speech in one language and then a mode for processing speech in the other language. Another view is that bilinguals just adjust to speech variation by re-calibrating to the unique acoustic properties of each language.” There is research that does show both sides.

I started learning Spanish at 8 years old so I can’t really remember my transitions too much. I can tell you that today, there are many words and phrases that just come out but other things that I don’t speak of very often seem to be the worst time for me. But I want to know! How does this work for everyone else who can speak two or more languages?

Taken by the Author in Irapuato, Mexico

So in short, for those of you who can fluently speak two or more languages, what’s your opinion? What advice would you give someone like me? And lastly, someone once told me, just to “do it”. Think and speak entirely in the other language and keep going.