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When you don't "look" like you speak the language...

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Isn't it interesting how some people will decide in their minds what language(s) you can speak before you even open your mouth?

A few months ago, I traveled through Germany. As a bilingual English/Spanish speaker for over 25 years, I forgot what it was like when someone approached me in a language I couldn't understand. As I approached the service desk, a woman looked into my pale Germanic face, blonde hair and blue eyes and assumed I spoke the language as she rapidly gave me information I couldn't process. A part of me just sort of... locked up. I froze in a linguistic panic.

I have also had the opposite experiences in Spanish speaking countries. My appearance gives off a very "I'm an American, I only speak English" vibe, and even after my fluent Spanish and nearly indecipherable accent emerge, the person I'm speaking to will often continue to speak in English... even if Spanish is by far the strongest language we have in common for the purposes of communication.

I've heard stories from my students who come from Hispanic families but don't speak Spanish... Sometimes (but not always,) they feel guilt, shame or just plain fear over their lack of being able to communicate with people who perceive them as Spanish speakers by the way they look. Perhaps their parents didn't want them to learn Spanish in fear that it would hold them back or hinder their English skills in some way. They are my absolute most treasured clients, and I love helping them to dive back into the language of their deep, rich culture.

Being a Spanish speaker has granted me access to countries, people, travel opportunities, and careers that I find myself taking for granted from time to time. Today, I spoke Spanish with our housekeeper Raquel, who I can now call my friend after years of conversing. Yesterday, I was blessed to be able to seamlessly discuss the issue with my sprinkler system with Federico. The day before that, I was having a sweet conversation with Tatiana, a woman I met in Spain who doesn't speak English and is now a very close friend.

The door to Spanish is ready for you to open! Much like working out at the gym, consistent participation in an immersive, supportive Spanish environment brings about successes and accomplishments that can last a lifetime. Why not start today?

Can I offer you a complimentary assessment to get you moving on your path towards fluency? Book in your free call here!

Bex Paz

Owner / Director

Spanish Learning Network

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