It’s a process, I keep reminding myself. When I first arrived in Mexico my Spanish was rusty. Not wanting to make a fool out of myself, I pre-planned everything I wanted to say prior to it coming out of my mouth. In my mind, I practiced Spanish sentences such as, “Can you recommend the best seafood restaurant in town?” and “What are the most interesting sites in Mazatlan, in your opinion.” As a result, when I actually made these inquiries, things went pretty smoothly. By the end of the day I was tired of speaking Spanish, but all in all, I was very pleased that my Spanish skills were returning so rapidly.
But sometime during the past two days things shifted. I grew confident enough to stop pre-planning my utterances. Or maybe I should say over-confident. As long as everything was going well I did just fine. But whenever something unexpected happened that required immediate action, I suddenly lost it. With no anticipation of situations or pre-planning of sentences, pure gibberish came out of my mouth and I quickly reverted to English, lest I begin trying to speak Spanish by adding the letter “o” to the end of English words.
Although this seems like regression, I am aware that it’s really progress. Speaking a foreign language without having to think about it is a lot more difficult than repeating the same worn out phrases over and over again. I just want to get past the blithering idiot part to stage three – the one where I once again begin to dream in Spanish.