I speak Spanish, but I’m going to take this moment to remind you that not every Hispanic does. I have many Hispanic and Latinx friends who barely speak Spanish, or who don’t speak it at all. In fact, it was because of these friends that I originally launched Hispanic Houston. I wanted to provide culturally-relevant news and updates to community members who don’t consume Spanish-language news.
The only reason I speak Spanish is because my parents took steps to ensure not only that I would be bilingual, but also that I would speak both languages well. They thought it was important that I be able to communicate well in both languages, and they were successful in their efforts.
I learned to speak Spanish; I became bilingual. I also learned to read Spanish and to write it. I can conjugate verbs and place the accents in the right places. I can translate content as well as review and edit it. As long as the terminology isn’t too technical (legal, medical, etc.) my Spanish skills are “pretty good.” Or they used to be.
I don’t speak Spanish every day. These days I rarely hold conversations in Spanish. In fact, it’s sometimes weeks between the times I dust off my Spanish and use it in a conversation. And you can tell — the more time that passes, and the less often I use it, the more obvious it becomes that I’m not a native speaker.
I’m losing my Spanish.
I’m not quite sure what to do to make it stop. Most of my family communicates primarily in English. My everyday interactions don’t give me much opportunity to hold conversations in Spanish on a regular basis.
At the rate I’m going there will come a day when I actually can’t hold up my end of a conversation … and that will be really sad.
I’m going to have to come up with a plan, a way to ensure that I retain as much of my language skills as I can. Right now I’m open to reasonable suggestions.
In the meanwhile, I’m going to take every opportunity to showcase my Spanish skills — kind of like bringing out your good china for casual dinners instead of waiting until it’s a special occasion. Maybe I’ll figure out how to make it commonplace again.
I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting this topic again. For now, ¡adiós y buena suerte!