Pursuing a Language Minor & Sticking with It

Last year, I was required to take two more Spanish courses in order to fulfill the 15 unit foreign language requirement that is required for students like me who are pursuing a Bachelor’s of Arts degree. I took Spanish in high school, and I had always considered myself to be fairly decent at learning the Spanish language because I had even been exposed to it during some short courses in middle school. As I sought to complete my foreign language requirement, I found myself, again, just as I had in high school, doing well in Spanish. I felt even more confident in my abilities when I got an A during my first quarter because the other two grades I received that quarter I was not as proud of. This increasing sense of confidence in my Spanish speaking abilities persuaded me to think about pursuing a minor. In short, since that time, I have been actively working towards receiving a minor in Spanish; however, I have to admit that the enjoyment has begun to fade. I have recently discovered that Spanish is… hard.

As I am now embarking into the Spanish composition courses offered here at UC Davis, I find that writing well in Spanish is harder than I could imagine. For starters, one of my majors is English so, of course, I enjoy writing, but having to rewire my sense of grammar completely from English to Spanish is challenging. I often catch myself having trouble utilizing the Spanish grammar rules since I employ my English skills on such a high level everyday when I am in my classes or writing an essay. I will write sentences and clauses in Spanish attempting to sound more intellectual when, in reality, the thoughts I am trying to articulate are indeed academic; but the sentences I write have a tendency to have structural and stylistic aspects that are correct in English, but unfortunately, not in Spanish.

I didn’t realize I had this problem until I wrote my first composition for the course. I was proud of it. I thought I had made a decent attempt at articulating my ideas in a semi-intellectual way until I received my grade. I was utterly discouraged when the very end of my rubric had a note from my professor that said, “please come see me about this.” Granted, no one else saw or knew my professor left me this note, but I did, which was bad enough. As my own harshest critic, I felt horribly exposed and behind the rest of the class since there are distinct, albeit, varying levels of Spanish speakers in my section ─ some most definitely a level above me. With that being said, all I could think about was what I was doing wrong and what my professor was probably thinking of my abilities with the language. The next day I made an appointment to meet with my professor, and my biggest fear of being behind the class or a lost cause for becoming bilingual wasn’t coming true like I thought it was. My professor explained to me exactly what I needed to work on and how to improve the issues I was facing, and even though it was helpful to hear such encouraging words, I still find it difficult to attend my 8AM lecture because honestly, sometimes I can’t help from feeling a bit down (to make matters worse, this is a 5 day a week 8AM lecture).

Recently, I have been doing my best to persevere and remember my goal is still to become bilingual and I am set on achieving this goal; I can’t give up now. It took me a while to get here, but it is a work in progress. I am constantly working to overcome the fear of saying words or sentences incorrectly in terms of grammar as well as pronunciation, but after meeting with my professor, I am discovering the purpose of these lectures is for me to practice and a consequence of practicing is learning, meaning that it is okay to mess up and be imperfect. I know that for me, as long as I can remember, I have strived to assume the most perfect version of myself, but if that were possible, there would be no need for improvement; but there is always room for me to better myself. I have learned now that not everything can be as easy as I want it to be, and if I already knew everything I wouldn’t be here. So, yeah, I’m going to keep pursuing this because I know with some hard work, I will figure it out.