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A Year and Five Months Later…

April 20, 2013

We have been in Costa Rica a year and five months now {woohoo!}  and yes, I am still trying to learn Spanish.  If you “Google” the top 10 hardest languages in the world, you will find that Spanish is not on that list.  In fact, you will find it on the opposite list, the list of the top easiest languages to learn, as (you guessed it!) the #1 easiest language to learn (for an English speaker, that is).  I tell you all this so you understand that I know I have it easy.  But I still have good days with the language (understanding what is being said, for the most part, and being able to respond back with fairly coherent sentences) and bad days with the language (not understanding a word that is being said and not able to make a coherent sentence.)  It seems every day is different with the language thing.

This week is the perfect examples of this!  Thursday, Brian was spraying for bugs and we needed to be out of the house. So, Emma and I walked down our mountain into town.  It took us 15 minutes to make it down into town {Yay!} and we still needed to kill some time till Brian was done and would pick us up.  I decided I wanted to go back to a used clothing store (Ropa Americana stores are stores that get clothing from the USA, mostly from the used clothing stores there.)  The lady in the store, I found out later that her name is Marie, loved Emma and gushed all over her.  She even went so far to go get the the vegetable guy (Randal, remember him?) and bring him over to see her.  (It’s the combination of blue eyes and light skin that makes her a magnate…)  After Randal politely said we knew each other, bid us hello, and gave courtesy look at Emma, he left.  After that Marie talk to me for a while!  And the best part is I was able to understand almost all of what she said.  We actually had a conversation for about 10 minutes, until she found out that we are missionaries.  She then just walked away.  I have no idea what happened.  I’m really hoping I didn’t say something wrong.  That is my biggest fear!

Ok so, that was one day, the next day on the other hand I felt like I just arrived in the country!  Friday morning our neighbor came over to ask if she could borrow something.  Only I couldn’t understand any of the important words, including the part where she said she wanted to borrow “something”, whatever that “something” was!  So I asked her to slow down and she did and then I only got a few more words.  So she repeated it again and through explaining the words I didn’t understand and a little acting out, I got that she wanted to borrow something to wash the floors with (at least that’s what I thought).  But I still couldn’t figure out what “it” was!  A mop? Cleaner? A broom?  What??  Instead of bringing multiple items out to her, I just brought her through the house to the pila room and hoped I had what she needed.  As I was rummaging around trying to find the different items for her to take her pick, she said “manguera” and pointed to the washing machine (I thought).  I was still baffled.  The things that were by the washing machine were an empty vinegar bottle (that I can’t throw away because it’s a nice container and I just might need that someday, you understand, right?), Emma’s diaper laundry detergent and a garden hose.  I was still thinking of washing floors and nothing there fit that description to me.  Finally she went over and pointed to the hose…  Oh boy! {Insert eye roll here.}  All at once it made since, and I felt a little dense. Smile

Of course there are those fun times when I think I understand what is being said and then make a comment and get a strange look in return.  Like the time I got the words camino (way, pathway) and caminando (walking) mixed up… There is a big difference, by the way.  And yes, I received a strange look and didn’t know why until I realized what was really asked much later.  And I could go on and on and on with the word mix-ups, but I think you get the idea.

Yes, this is just the normal process of learning a language and I will just take each day as it comes!  I know I say this a lot, but your prayers are greatly appreciated!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Lora permalink
    April 20, 2013 7:43 pm

    It will get better Ashley! I still make mistakes. Yesterday I called a deaf person a pig! One is sordo and the other is cerdo 😦 I knew the difference, it just came out wrong!!

    • April 22, 2013 10:11 am

      Oh no, Miss Lora! Did you realize it right away or later?

  2. April 21, 2013 1:20 pm

    I remember those days! 🙂 Every time I made a dumb mistake and learned the correct word, it seemed to be stuck in my brain, so making mistakes is all part of it. Just be willing to be corrected and ask them to correct you. It’s hard, but if you are persistent the people will help you and one day it will all just “click”. Love your posts!

    • April 22, 2013 10:16 am

      How long did it take for you to feel comfortable speaking Spanish? One thing about the culture here is that they don’t correct you, even when you ask them to. For them it is rude, so they just smile while you make mistakes. Only a few close friends of Brian’s will correct him and one lady that has been learning English will correct me. Oh well, I will get it one day! 🙂

      • April 22, 2013 10:47 am

        Ashley, It took me a year before I could carry on a pretty normal conversation where I was understanding everything. And I was able to start teaching a lesson comfortably around that time also albeit slowly. 🙂 I think it’s Latin culture to not correct unless you practically beg them to. You just have to keep asking them to correct you. Maybe find one person who does more than others and make her the person you talk to more, so that she will help you with the language. I did that in Peru when we were learning and she made it her goal to help me, even writing down the word and making sure I was pronouncing it correctly. Just keep trying! You will always be learning, even years later, you will hear words you never heard before. 🙂 I know it can be frustrating, but you will never win their hearts until you learn to communicate well with them. Praying for ya!

  3. Anonymous permalink
    July 5, 2013 9:58 am

    language is fun. I once asked for “monkey butter” instead of “peanut butter.” or jesus saved me from my “fish” instead of “sins”. . . and so many others

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