February 6, 2009
Have you ever had a complete stranger come up to you and start speaking in a different language and expected you to understand what they were saying? I have been experiencing this very often recently. Well to start off with, my mother is from Peru and she speaks three languages, Quechua, Spanish and English. Growing up at home, my whole family spoke English to one another. I grew up in a single parent household with one sister and two younger brothers. I speak English, a little French and can understand some Spanish. I use English when communicating with others. So my experience with language is more like the inability to communicate in any language other than English.
First from what my mother has told me, the story is that I began to learn English when I started kindergarten. My mom wanted all of her children to be successful in life. She believed that it would be easier for me to learn and speak English more effectively if I didn’t know Spanish. And she was at the same time going to school and trying to learn and speak English. I eventually learned French in grade school, but didn’t have the need to use Spanish until I moved to Willmar, Minnesota in my senior year in high school. So my inability to speak Spanish limited my communication with people in the Hispanic community and other Hispanic students at my school.
When I started noticing an increasing amount of students who were trying to communicate with me in Spanish, I realized how much I needed to learn and use the language. I remember meeting my friend Rodrigo during lunch break and he said, “Como te llamas?” which means what is your name? And I was like, “what did you say” and then he repeated it again then I said, “No I mean I don’t speak Spanish”, then he was like,” oh that’s okay I speak English too.” He found it very interesting that I was Hispanic but didn’t know any...