Talking about our native tongues, here.
Much has been said, written and discussed about this topic, and it is particularly interesting to those of us who find ourselves in the same position as the author whose article I share at the end: long-term immigrants to an English-speaking country. Think of the overall impact being surrounded by the English language has on our fluency and breadth of vocabulary, especially if everyone in your household prefers English: it becomes our default language, our go-to language for everyday things. Please read on!Many of us acquired our computer skills and professional language here, and not in our native country, for example. So being as eloquent in that language may be less easy the longer we stay here. Please read on! I’ll share with you some ways I’ve challenged myself to “live” more Spanish. It’s been amusing but frustrating at times.
1. I always pick “press X for Spanish” whenever calling customer service. When I’ve heard the CSR struggle, I offer to switch to English and they usually sound relieved, but others have told me they MUST speak in Spanish when on the phone, so we muddle along. Sometimes their Spanish is less than ideal, sometimes it’s me being stumped on a term. Banking, in particular, is something I’ve only done here in the United States as an adult, so it’s not as smooth as it’d be in English.
2. I’ve switched my cell-phone and computer interface language to Spanish, and that has proven very challenging. For both, I eventually switch back to English. If I were to keep it in Spanish, I’m sure I’d be less frustrated, but for now I switch back and forth.
3. I choose the Spanish audio option for any show I can, and keep it that way unless I feel the dubbing has been done inartfully.
4. When watching a movie in a language I don’t speak, I choose subtitles in Spanish.
5. Whenever possible, I text in Spanish (siblings, colleagues, friends), even if they are fully bilingual. Texts from my sibs in Mexico help me keep abreast of slang and neologisms that postdate my departure from the country (ie, godinismo, godinear).
6. Spanish-language podcasts (Radio Ambulante, Algarabia, BBC and tons of others) and some radio programs (Radio Educación from Mexico).
7. Choosing opening pages on my browser from various news sources in Spanish. I make sure to read some headlines and articles before navigating away.
One last thing to consider is that there is the Spanish (or other language) spoken HERE, and then its counterpart in the country of origin. Frequently, they differ in interesting ways. You can sometimes tell when that non-English article has been written by a person who lives here in the US. So it´s good to find articles written in the foreign country itself.
There are of course other ways to stay connected with your living, ever-changing native language. Other examples that don’t work for me, for example, are telenovelas and local Spanish radio stations.
So here’s the article below. I hope you’ll share other ideas you’ve put into practice, and tell us of the results.