No Habla Español: The Trouble With Not Speaking Spanish

[Editor’s Note: Yvonne Condes is a blogger in LA, YvonneinLA, and her work is reposted here with permission.]

There are so many times when I regret not speaking better Spanish. This past weekend I was talking to a very interesting woman at theBlogher Bet conference (which was fantastic by the way). Another woman came up and started speaking Spanish. I understood a few words here and there and nodded at the appropriate times, which led them to believe that I spoke Spanish.

A normal person would have said something, but I thought I could either fake it or figure out what they were saying. I nodded like an idiot for way too long. Once they were gone I applauded myself because I thought I understood everything they said. I ran into a friend and told her what our mutual friend had said. Well, turns out I had the entire conversation wrong.

And that pretty much sums up my childhood. My parents spoke Spanish fluently with friends, relatives, and strangers, but not with their four kids. They would speak to each other in Spanish in front of us, and I would think I knew what they were saying. I would make a comment to join in the conversation and they would laugh. Good times. But that was several decades ago.

Why, at 40, am I still not fluent in Spanish? I was doing really well for a time (I went to summer school in Guadalajara) and after college I could hold an intelligent conversation. But (get ready for a lame excuse) after I started my first job in the Midwest I didn’t know anyone who spoke Spanish. In fact, I was the only Mexican-American my friends there knew.

Now here is why my excuse is lame. After I left the Midwest, I moved to California. There are plenty of people here who speak Spanish so why haven’t I picked it up again? It’s because I’m too embarrassed to try because my Spanish is so bad. I can handle the idea of being laughed at (it happens more than I care to mention), but I don’t like the idea of sounding dumb.

Having written those words, I now know how lame they sound. If my kids told me they weren’t going to try because they were afraid to fail I would lecture them until they passed out from exhaustion.

So I guess it’s time to take a Spanish class. If you see me and you speak Spanish, come over and say hola, but don’t be surprised if you hear me reply, “Que?”  Remember, I’m trying.

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

U.S. citizen detained overnight by ICE – they thought he was undocumented

Victor Landa July 6, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1.5 minute read)  This is startling news. Up until last night at a dinner conversation I believed that the idea that an American citizen would be […]

Willie Velásquez documentary is a lesson for Latinos on the importance of voting

NewsTaco May 9, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because today is Willie Velasquez day and a quick search of his name turned up no news stories. This piece, by Mercedes Olivera, is from […]

DIECIOCHO Podcast: Texas Rep. Rafael Anchia – Trump, Gerrymandering and Money

NewsTaco June 8, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1 minute read, 34 minute listen)  It’s safe to say that the just-ended Texas legislative session was the most acrimonious in memory. We can talk for […]

Ted Cruz gets an earful in McAllen for July 4

Victor Landa July 5, 2017

*I’m posting this because it was mostly Latinos, organizing, protesting, making their voices heard. Everyone needs to know that Latinos in deep South Texas are standing up. VL By Patrick […]

Pence will host White House Cinco de Mayo party

NewsTaco May 4, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because there’ll be no Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House (I know, big deal – we’ll be spared the taco-bowl). VL By Hadas […]

Castro will not run for U.S. Senate

NewsTaco May 1, 2017

By Victor Laneda, NewsTaco (i.5 minute read)    Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) says he will not be running for the U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz. Castro had promised to make […]

Vietnam War veteran fears he could be deported

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*This Vietnam veteran, born in Mexico, was awarded two Purple Hearts and given U.S. citizenship after his service. He’s misplaced his documents and after paying $345 the government wants more […]

Henry Cisneros: Why Can’t Americans See Latinos Are Country’s ‘Saving Grace’?

Victor Landa

*Good question. I think it’s because we’re not the ones telling our story. We need to fight for our narrative. VL By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News (1.5 minute read)  SAN […]