Fabulous essay, Anna. I have studied French and Spanish, getting to acceptable levels of comprehension reading and listening and could even write decently, but could not master speaking either. I even had a Spanish tutor but made no progress in oral communication. Here is a story I wrote on Medium about my failure at language-learning:
Learning Spanish or Not
Fourteen years ago, I left my mostly white American life to live and love with a growing group of Hispanics, starting…
I received an interesting comment on that piece from Mark Starlin, who teaches music. He suggested that taking singing lessons to overcome some of my tone-deafness might help with my ability to speak Spanish. He made an excellent point. Perhaps, the answer is to go back to the root of the problem.
However, at my age, I think a degree of hearing loss will now factor in, plus, by the time I wrote that piece, my workload was so intense, and still is, that there was no time for studying a language.
My husband, Captain Argentina, who is, obviously, from Argentina speaks several languages, although he rarely gets to practice many of them now — Spanish, English, Brazilian Portuguese, and Italian — even, a bit of French. You rarely run across anyone speaking a foreign language other than Spanish here in Florida. His son is a translator for a large document translation company in NYC — I believe, he is certified in six languages.
Ah, you have reminded me of an incident involving languages and my granddaughter that I’ve always meant to write about! I think that will be my next Medium project. I’ll be sure to tag you.
And, I think you are correct from the conversation that led me here — your new-found talent for poetry certainly is influenced by your love of and study of languages. They give you a literary depth that few know.
Captain Argentina, be sure to read Anna’s piece above. I think you will enjoy it.