When people see me and find out I'm a US-born Black female that appears to know Spanish, I often get a puzzled look followed by the question (asked as if they already know the answer)…
“Eres (are you) Latina?”
When I answer “No.” they look both relieved and confused.
Black people are equally as confused. I've been accused of everything from trying to find a Spanish lover (side eye) to losing my Black card.
I don't have any Latin American roots buried in my family tree that I know about. No one in my family speaks Spanish (except my son, but that's a different story) or has even visited a Spanish-speaking country.
And I'm not from New York, Florida, California, or Texas, so my exposure to native speakers in my lifetime has been minimal. Except for taking high school Spanish in public school, it's completely foreign to me.
Then why spend time learning Spanish?
When you get overwhelmed and the task of learning a new language seems daunting, it's easy to think to yourself…”Why am I learning a language anyway?”
This is especially a challenge for US-born native English speakers. We live in a bubble where we expect everyone to learn English, and culturally we feel that the world follows behind us. But an increasing number of us in America are embracing an identify as global citizens and becoming fascinated about the world us.
What's more, in the United States you really don't need to know another language besides English. You can live a full life working, having friends, paying bills, and entertaining yourself without having to become bilingual. Of all the languages to learn, Spanish is the least beneficial to learn in terms of improving your financial status (unless, of course, you're planning to start importing Cuban cigars).
I've always been interested in language — how it's used, how to play around with it, and finding creative ways to make it my own. I used to write short stories when I was little and in high school I was an avid writer of poetry (very original, I know).
I was always impressed with hearing about people who spoke multiple languages. When I found out what a polyglot was I was instantly intrigued. I suppose I'm becoming language nerd. 🙂
The world is bigger than the United States. I love to travel and meet people from different places. I enjoy traveling throughout Latin America. So far I've been to Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. (A slight obsession with salsa, bachata, and merengue doesn't hurt either.)
So what's your why? Connecting with your reason for wanting to master a new language can be just the motivation you need to keep at it, or to get started in the first place.
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¡Hola! My name is Tamara Marie. I'm a language coach specializing in brain-friendly methods to learn foreign languages faster. I speak English (US native), Spanish (advanced), and Brazilian Portuguese (beginner). I'm a Latin music & dance addict and passionate about helping people learn languages.