Today we had our final Spanish class in La Paz. As we headed to the El Nopal campus we readied ourselves as a family to say goodbye to something that we had all thoroughly enjoyed. After repeating our mantra, “Saying goodbye to people, places, and things is a part of traveling. We would never have had this experience if we didn’t continue our journey forward”, we were back on track and ready to head to class.
As we have previously mentioned classes at El Nopal have been fabulous. The teachers are wonderful, the campus is inviting, and it has been a great way to get us practicing Spanish. However, the reality is that with all the support of the great folks at El Nopal, learning a new language is still challenging. This is especially true when you are tired, stressed, or trying to describe a complex idea or process. No matter how much you practice, changing your brain over to communicate in another language can be taxing.
Growing up in the United States it is not uncommon to hear friends, neighbors, politicians, and the media expound on how foreigners immigrating to America should have to speak English. There is so much debate about having to teach English to students in public schools who come from another country and don’t know the language. As well as debate on whether public services should be offered in any other language besides English.
However, it is really easy to sit in your native country comfortably speaking your native language and judge those who can’t yet speak the language, or those who are still learning. To those people that say “you shouldn’t move to a country if you can’t speak the language,” we say well then you go and give it a try. Of course everyone traveling to or moving to a new country would love to understand and speak the native language. Not many people truly want to struggle to understand or communicate. However, it is easier said then done. Mastering a new language takes a lot of work and even with all the best intentions it takes time. However, it is a lot easier when you have the support of the community.
Our teachers and new friends at El Nopal, from the adults to the kids, have been truly great in making us feel comfortable as we take that awkward step in speaking a new language. The people that we have met in La Paz have also been super friendly and more than helpful in working to communicate with us as we practice our language skills. It would be really helpful if everyone was put in the position of having to speak a new language in a foreign environment. That way we would all be a little more understanding and compassionate when interacting with others who are speaking a new language. From schools, to government offices, to grocery stores, it would be nice if we all worked to communicate with each other the way we would want to be communicated to if we were surrounded by a foreign language.