The Language Barrier

The best bits about moving to Spain will be:

a) living with Matt again

b) the food and drink

c) the new experiences and places to visit

d) mastering a new language

Now, the first three things are great, easy, enjoyable etc. But d) …  mastering a new language. Hmm. I don’t think so! Mastering is far too strong a term. If I can learn to just get by in Spanish I will be thrilled, proud of myself even. It’s so crazily hard to learn a new language at my age, but try I must. I really don’t want to be one of the Brits-abroad-who-can’t-be-bothered  crowd. Anyway, it’s Madrid I’m off to, not the Costa del Expat. Some people speak English in Madrid but certainly not everybody and it’s crucial that I try really, really hard to communicate in Spanish or I will find my world a very small and very insular place.

But here I am, eighteen months after my first Spanish lesson, still feeling such a fool when trying to construct the most basic of sentences. In my head I have wonderful conversations with myself in what I think is almost fluent español. I have even dreamt in Spanish but in real-true-life Confidence sits on my shoulder mocking me as I try to give some order to the jumble of words swirling around my mouth. I hear what comes out and I surprise myself with the ghastliness of it all!!

Still, I have to believe those who tell me that it will be easier when I am living here. When I hear Spanish all around me, all day, every day. There is a lovely lady called Ana who looks after Matt’s building. She is there every weekday morning doing porter/cleaning duties. She speaks not one word of English. We have wonderful, nonsensical conversations. She smiles and encourages my attempts. It will come, poco a poco, little by little, she tells me. You just need to come to Spain more often. Es verdad! It’s true. I do need to go more often. Over the next six months I will try to go as much as possible and if I can just get Confidence to stop mocking me and start to cheer me on who knows what I can achieve. Even at my age!

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