December 31, 2013, by Guest blog
I’ve started to speak Spanish with an accent
When I started my year abroad in Seville, I had only been learning Spanish for two years. Naturally, I was worried about how my limited vocabulary and basic grammar was going fair whilst setting up a new life completely in Spanish. Having previously been told that simply by living in a country and being surrounded by the language, you can pick it up quite quickly, I was prepared to let my Spanish develop through osmosis. However, it took me a while to realise that that alone does not actually permanently improve your command of a language. I became better and more confident at saying what I could already say but I was not really able to produce anything significantly better or new. I then began to read the free commuter newspaper on the way to work and started watching television shows originally in English, in Spanish which allowed me to pick up some new vocabulary outside that used for general conversation. In January I plan to take up a language course and find myself a permanent language exchange partner just so I can speak as much Spanish as possible.
Whilst applying to be a language assistant, you have to choose three different regions and I specifically tried to avoid areas with strong accents or dialects, considering it felt like a struggle at times for me to understand and produce standard Spanish. However, I was allocated a town in the province of Seville in Andalucía – one of the regions with the strongest accents in the whole of Spain. People would talk to me and I could not even differentiate one word from the other. However, I found that after a few weeks I could make out each word, even if I didn’t know what all of them meant and it has become a lot easier to get the gist of what someone is saying just by using tone and body language. I have found now though that I am starting to say words with the Andalusian accent – which may or may not be a good thing!
I also study German and before I left for Spain I felt I had a solid grasp of the language. However, for a good few weeks I had become accustomed to trying to speak solely Spanish, so when I tried to have a conversation with a German exchange student, I was shocked that when I asked my brain to produce a basic German word, it would just give me the Spanish one. I often produce sentences that would start in German and end in Spanish. It has been quite difficult to acquire a new language whilst trying to maintain a previous one.
I definitely feel a lot more confident with my understanding but often I cannot find the words or the right grammar structure to say what I want. The process of language acquisition has been difficult to say the least and there is still a lot of language left for me to acquire but I look forward to the process of acquiring it.
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