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

How a harsh criticism turned ‘Coco’ into Pixar’s most uniquely made movie yet

Victor Landa November 17, 2017

Director Lee Unkrich was hot off the box office success and Oscar win for 2010’s “Toy Story 3” when he delved into making a movie that focused on the Mexican […]

Trump Administration Targets and then Mocks Immigrant with Prosthetic Leg

Victor Landa November 15, 2017

A 20-year-old undocumented immigrant with prosthetic leg and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has been detained by federal immigration agents and held without charges for over a month, treated inhumanely […]

More Latinas are becoming teachers and reshaping our nation’s classrooms

Victor Landa November 29, 2017

The growth of the Latino population in the United States will have a lasting cultural and intellectual impact beyond the arts, food, and celebrations. More and more, Latinas are becoming […]

As Numbers Grow, Recognizing Generations Of Latino Veterans

Victor Landa November 10, 2017

As the nation honors its veterans, government officials point to the growing numbers of Latinos in the military, while Hispanic scholars and historians remind us of the generations of Latino […]

U.S Hispanic Chamber Leader Who Has Had Turbulent Relationship With Trump May Be Ousted

Victor Landa November 22, 2017

The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) is moving behind the scenes to oust its prominent president Javier Palomarez over allegations that he misused the organization’s money for his personal […]

How Indie Latinx Comic Book Authors Are Capturing the Latinx Experience

Victor Landa November 13, 2017

Back in 2010, comics creator Javier Hernandez was walking around San Francisco with his friend Ricardo Padilla when he had an idea: Why don’t they build a comics convention focusing […]

Half of Latino Immigrant Characters on TV Are Portrayed as Criminals, Study Finds

Victor Landa November 1, 2017

Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, has released its first-ever media reference guide for writers, directors, and producers concerning Latino immigrant characters. Immigrants and […]

Could Hispanic vote push Lupe Valdez into Texas Governor’s Office?

Victor Landa December 8, 2017

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues– particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. Experts says […]