My Yo-Yo Learning of the Spanish Language

I am sure you have heard of yo-yo dieting.  If you haven’t…it is continuous up and down cycle of losing weight then gaining it back.

I suffer from a similar yo-yo cycle, but mine is the learning of a second language.

When I was in high school and I was offered Spanish as an elective, I passed up the opportunity. I was interested in art; drawing, painting and ceramics were my forte. Looking back I wish I had taken the Spanish class. Maybe back when my mind was young and more sponge like, I could have grasped a hold of the process of learning to speak and understand another language with ease. What I find trying to learn Spanish now is a brutal tug of war with my brain cells and a lot of frustration.

But I am determined!

You may ask…What’s the big deal? Why do you want to speak Spanish?

My desire to be bilingual started about 8 years ago when I traveled out of country for a month. I realized then how single minded I was by only speaking one language. I spent most of that month in Europe and I was exposed to many different languages but I noticed that almost everyone could also speak English….thankfully! It really made me think about other countries and how they place so much importance upon being multilingual. I concluded that if someone else could learn several languages, I could surely learn one more. I decided I should learn Spanish because it would be the most useful second language given my location. Another factor in my choice was the many countries that claim Spanish as their primary language, I would love to travel to these places someday and wouldn’t it be spectacular to communicate in Spanish! Plus, I heard it was one of the easiest languages to learn….sold!

Thus began my study of the Spanish language and the Yo-Yo process that accompanies my progress.

I enrolled in a Conversational Spanish class at the community college. I did well and passed with good grades. I even enjoyed the group exercises, where we had to act out scenes and could only use Spanish. Off to a good start….Up goes the Yo-Yo!

Since the town I was living in at the time was very small and the interest in a Conversational Spanish II class was very minimal, no class was offered the following semester. I tried to continue my studies on my own with a text book and determination but I failed….down goes the Yo-Yo.

Side Note….I have always wondered what good it does if you know…Donde esta el bano…but you don’t understand the directions given back to you in Spanish? I think you might be in a bit of trouble!

About a year later…

Hey, what about Rosetta Stone! I heard a commercial on the radio and they claimed excellent results. So I purchased levels 1 & 2. Rosetta Stone was so much fun. I loved that program. It really did help me with recognition because they use pictures and games.  I flew through those levels with great scores. Not text book at all…..up goes the Yo-Yo!

El nino esta debajo el avion.

I got to thinking, when will I ever use this sentence?

Yes, Rosetta Stone was fun but was it practical? Will I ever see a boy under a plane and be needed to tell someone in Spanish of this fact? Probably….not. Rosetta Stone was expensive also and I couldn’t afford the next level or the supplements, so I was done with the Stone….down goes the Yo-Yo.

5 years later…

We moved to Phoenix and I met an awesome friend who spent many hours with me practicing our language skills. I helped her with English and she helped me with my Spanish. I learned more in our times together than any class or program I had taken so far….up goes the Yo-Yo!

My friend and I are unable to get together anymore because of scheduling restraints and just plain busy lives. We are still friends but her English has way surpassed my Spanish so when we do talk to each other, now it is mostly in English…it’s just easier….down goes the Yo-Yo.

So, here I am waiting for the Yo-Yo to go up, up ,up again. I have not given up on my goal to be bilingual. It is so difficult to be committed to spending the time, energy and money to further my skills. I believe what I need to really push on through to the other side is to live in a Spanish speaking country for 3 months and be forced to learn. I could see this happening in the future, just not in the near future.

So…. for now when I use my Spanish I will just sound like a mentally challenged toddler with bubble gum in my mouth.


7 thoughts on “My Yo-Yo Learning of the Spanish Language

  1. Oh, oh, oh, my yo-yo got knotted, then the string broke, then it rolled out the door and under a bush …
    I had the same desire to learn French and flunked twice! Then we moved to french-speaking Switzerland. How could I fail to become fluent? Well, in my own defense, I’m really good in English. Here is a piece of my struggles:

    Good luck! Keep trying. Because you do get better. You also end up with GREAT stories.

  2. Living in th country is definitely the best way to learn… Failing that, even a one- ot two- week immersion course will do wonders for your language and your confidence and could be a great kick start.

  3. I think a lot of us actually suffer from yo yo ANYTHING. Its dedication, time, and more importantly, PATIENCE that makes or breaks us. It does take an experience or two to change our minds and outlooks on ideas like this. You tried Rosetta? Have you tried anything else? Learning a language should be fun, not a task. Great article!!!

    • Yes I have tried Rosetta and it was fun and entertaining. El nino esta debajo de avion. lol …not sure when I will be able to use that phrase. 🙂 I believe I need to spend 3 months in a Spanish speaking country and I then will be good to go!

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