Language Isn’t About Being Perfect…It’s About Creating Authentic, Human Connections

Let it be known that I excelled in English and writing course assignments despite the English language’s ranking as one of the most difficult languages to master. Because of its unpredictable spellings and difficult-to-learn grammar, it challenges native speakers and second language learners, too. The poem below is a prime example:

In contrast, language experts say that the Spanish language is one of the easiest to learn. Therein lies the rub. When in tenth grade, a difficult transitioning-to-high school year for me, Spanish was my nemesis course. Additionally, I was experiencing a social anxiety disorder and everyday interactions caused me significant angst, self-consciousness, and embarrassment. I feared I was being scrutinized or judged negatively by others. But, in Spanish class, I was especially uncomfortable to the point I could not concentrate or apply myself. This severe stress also affected my relationships with others my own age and other areas of my life. Thank goodness for my life-long friend, Georgeanne. She pulled me out of my discomforting phobic zone and helped me get back on track socially and scholastically. By year’s end, I eked through Spanish probably with a “C” grade but I was afraid to ever again try to learn another language. My self-perception remains (even at this age), that yours truly failed and didn’t achieve higher goals both professionally and socially.

Yet, inwardly I still yearned to revisit Spanish as a second language because our world has become multicultural; I long needed to overcome my fear of failure again; and research has proven people who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills.

In the U.S., 13 percent of the population speaks Spanish at home, earning it the title of the most common non-English language spoken. The U.S. also has the 2nd largest population of Spanish speakers in the world (Mexico has the largest). Further, my home state of Maryland is ranked third in the U.S. Census Bureau’s index of racial or ethnic diversity groupings–nearly 12 percent of Maryland’s population reported that they were of Hispanic or Latino origin.

Hence, about a month ago I went online to an application called “Duolingo.” Initially, a free software application that I could test my desire to move forward and drive through. It’s actually a fun learning atmosphere without intimidation of others observing my progress or lack thereof. I’m in my fourth week of a consistent learning streak. The Spanish language is like nothing I remembered it to be, and as the rankings stated, it is not a difficult language to learn. So, yes, I’m hanging in there and feeling better over all for moving out of my comfort zone. I plan on testing my new language skills out on our server at our local Mexican restaurant and maybe even watch a Telemundo soap opera! My lesson learned: Language isn’t about being perfect–it’s about creating authentic human connections. I highly recommend learning a new language to others.

2 thoughts on “Language Isn’t About Being Perfect…It’s About Creating Authentic, Human Connections

  1. Thanks for this Joanne -Our son chose Spanish not French to study for his school O level exams he enjoyed and my best friend at Grammar School married a Spanish guy at Malaga where Thomas visited with his school friend to practice speaking and their nephew + friend visited us to practice speaking English and ALL got VERY good grades .I had to learn LATIN that was awful + French I enjoyed but I was bad at writing it so scraped a PASS in the exams . But I could remember + understand it when spoken by French friends on a holiday visit 20 years later BIZARRE!! and my French teacher Girl Guide Leader was brilliant who still keeps in touch now age 90+ ! I think our English language evolved from LATIN when the ROMANS invaded Britain and is STILL important for medical students training as doctors linked to old medicines needs checking ??? -But English IS the hardest language to learn with strange spellings shown in your fun poem.We often had daily spelling tests in our classes at school and read books aloud daily for 30 minutes from age 5-11 both very important now !


    • Yes Chris, we too, had virtual “baseball spelling bees” where you took a base each time you got a correct spelling and when others on your team moved you across the home plate, you had a chance at being up to bat again. Your comment triggered a second-grade memory for me. My teacher would send me into the first-grade classroom to read stories to the students when the teacher had to excuse herself for a while. And we were sorted into advanced to slow reader groups where we read aloud daily, and advanced among groups as appropriate, so we were always given goals to excel.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s