Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: surrounded by testosterone
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I am like you, in that my family includes native Spanish speakers (though not in my actual home) and I have studied the language enough to be fairly fluent in reading/writing, but my simple discomfort with not being able to speak it as perfectly as English makes me hesitate to just use the spoken languange enough to improve!
I get bored with language-learning programs. The vocab seems limited (compared to the huge variety of things you may wish to say and verbs you may wish to conjugate, in a conversation) and in a way it feels like you're limited to certain scenarios of superficial conversation.
If you think about it, you really learn a language most naturally - infants and toddlers learn language - by reading (for vocab) and conversing (for fluency), not by "studying". My absolute peak of spoken fluency was the year I agreed to drive my friend's Nicaraguan sister-in-law to and from the preschool where I taught her son's class and she (the SIL) volunteered. We became good friends and she was kind enough to adopt a pattern of speaking with me almost exclusively in Spanish and being assertive enough to interject quick corrections when I got something wrong - not in a way that stopped the flow of conversation, just enough to end my ignorance about that particular word usage.
BOY was it uncomfortable at first!!! I had to absolutely force myself not to make excuses for rejecting her offers to come inside and chat, or to have lunch with her. I felt like a little kid, stumbling over my words, not able to communicate on the same level that I was thinking. It felt humiliating! But she exists in a somewhat similar boat, as a non-native English speaker here. She was patient. And after maybe a month (?), it felt absolutely amazing as I found things tumbling out of my mouth with more ease. Vocabulary words I had picked up from context in Spanish novels years before sprang to my tongue when needed. I often had the experience of starting a sentence just knowing I was going to stumble in the middle of it, because when I imagined what I wanted to say, I couldn't think what all the Spanish words were, or how to properly conjugate the irregular verb I would need to use...but then when I got to the tricky part of what I was saying, aha! There were the words I needed! It was so exciting! And I really think that's how little ones learn: their parents give them vocabulary by reading to them and talking to them on a level higher than they can speak, and they feel so determined to express what they need or want or what excites them that they press on despite the awkwardness and frustration, until boom! They find that people can actually understand them. It's not all conscious.
In my long-winded way, I'm suggesting that you read as many Spanish books to your daughter as she'll listen to, and look for someone to do for you what my friend Rita did for me. I know MDC has both a Spanish discussion board and the "Finding Your Tribe" section, to meet people who live near you. Or MommyandMe.com also helps local moms meet. Perhaps you guys could do things together at least a couple times a week - with your daughter, of course, and you could offer to do something for her (childcare? homemade bread?) in exchange for her helping you to learn. Of course, you could also do a "program". I just think the reading and actual conversing are indispensable.
One woman in a house full of men: my soul mate:
... twin sons:
(HS seniors) ... step-son:
(a sophomore) ... our little man:
(a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all