I have always loved a challenge. I crave challenges; I create them. But I did not want to take a language my sophomore year.
Learning another language is not just about conjugating verbs and memorizing vocabulary, you also have to absorb and understand another way of life, another culture. In order to truly speak a language you have to completely immerse yourself in it. You have to think in it and feel in it.
That doesn’t just happen overnight.
You can’t learn another language in just a few hours. You can’t cram all of the knowledge in your head just 24 hours before the test. It doesn’t work that way.
Instead you have to dedicate yourself to learning it. You have to spend at least a couple hours everyday studying and practicing the language. You have to force yourself to think in that language and not in your native tongue. You have to put in a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of energy.
I just didn’t want to do it.
I knew it would be like that. I knew that studying a language would take away my ability to focus on other courses. I knew it would take over my life. But I had no choice in the matter. I was required to take a minimum of three classes in a language. I had to take a language
So, I did what any other grade-obsessed student would do. I insisted that they place me in Spanish 101, even though I knew I could place out of it. I insisted on taking a class that I knew would just review the exact material I’d already learned in middle school and high school.
I focused on getting an easy A.
The first few weeks I put hardly any effort into the class. I had learned the material we covered in middle school, and I found the class to be easy. I wasn’t putting the effort in I wasn’t even trying to learn.
Then I got my midterm.
Señora went all out on this test. Our in-class quizzes our practice tests had not begun to prepare me for my midterm. It tested everything we had learned in the class. Every vocab word she’d ever mentioned and every verb we had been told. It was not like any of the high school tests that I had taken. It was impossible.
By the end of the test, after almost 4 years of high school Spanish, I was in danger of failing a beginning level class.
I bought some Flash Cards.
That night, after crying out all my woes to my roommate, I began my love affair with Spanish. For the next year and 1/2 Spanish class went everywhere with me. To the gym, out to the movies, and to every single class. I was always clutching a pack of flash cards, reading notes, and attempting to think in another language.
It’s only been about a year and 1/2 since I finished my last class. It’s only been about 18 months since it stopped being the focus of my life, but the other day when I found a stash of the ever-present flash cards. I couldn’t begin to complete them. It’s sad, how quickly I forgot.