Friday morning, I had to explain dates and times to someone in Spanish. I felt clumsy and halting. I can understand much if not most of what I hear in Spanish (I am that person answering the question in English before the interpreter starts talking), but the words slip out of my head when I try to speak, and sometimes they come out with French pronunciation.
I was annoyed with how far gone my Spanish felt, and I decided, finally, to do something about it.
I have a friend here who has been bugging me to come to his Spanish conversation group, but I know myself and my twinge of perfectionism, and I know that if I go to a conversation group with my Spanish as rusty as it is, I will just sit back and avoid talking for fear of making mistakes.
Instead, I called his Spanish school, and by Saturday afternoon I was meeting with the teacher in a bright room in a refurbished firehouse. He gave me a book and an introductory lesson, and he set me up for 1.5 hour lessons every week for the next ten weeks.
I left and sat outside at the tea place, working on the next lesson, whispering the words out loud. Even in a few hours of saying the words, things are coming back to me, and television is sounding less like the French -see-oh and more like the Spanish -see-yown.
"Your pronunciation is very good," the teacher said, "except when you start to pronounce things like the French." Yeah, about that. The French I crammed in Montreal in 2002 pretty much killed off the Spanish c. 1993-2000, but somewhere in there are the words I once knew, and I'm going to get them back. I have vowed to stop worrying about whether I'm making mistakes. I'm just going to start talking, and writing, and trying. My goal is not to need an interpreter.