I cannot tell you the number of calls we get from parents of elementary, junior high and high school students asking us to help their child through their Spanish class at school. There are a number of reasons I hear for why their child is not doing well and I am certain that their theories for their child are absolutely true. They range from; she was put in a class that is beyond her ability and now she is behind, his teacher and he just don’t have that all important chemistry, she has a different learning style than the classroom can accommodate, he doesn’t test well but he can speak, etc.
As I read between the lines I see loud and clear that these kids WANT to learn Spanish and for whatever reason they are instead experiencing disappointment and failure.
The solution to these concerns for any particular child can be complicated to decipher but what is true for all of them, for all of us, is that when we try to do that thing that is hard we will experience our limits. And it is these limits that signal to us that we have mastered everything that lies below us and right now, at this very site of frustration marks a place beyond which we have never been before. This is great news! If we couldn’t feel this process in effort, if this process was invisible to us, then we would have no way of knowing that we were in that exact moment where we could learn and grow. Then we would not be able to recognize that glorious feeling of satisfaction and victory when we have successfully mastered the next step. How tragic that would be!
To make this challenging endeavor pay off for us, we do need to find the right fit in a teacher and methodology and environment and maybe that means a student in K-12, who doesn’t have the luxury of shopping around for the best fit, would do well to supplement his or her learning with someone outside the classroom. But we also need to face up to the fact that it is only with effort felt, often as insecurity and discomfort, that we master our way up, step by step to fluency.
Hey, what’s going on out there? Learning Spanish is difficult and it is hard work. But I’ll bet that anything you have mastered and enjoy doing now, had at it’s initial stages, that head banging experience. The first time you touched that musical instrument or danced salsa or cooked paella or ran 5 miles or lifted 100 lbs or spoke YOUR native language. We forget. Once we are there, we spend our time basking and enjoying our hard earned skill and forget (mercifully) what it took to get there. It will happen with Spanish as well. Hang in there and recognize the ‘burn’ for what it is and respect yourself for ‘playing through it’.
Cuidense bien……. -Joan