Main squeeze

Main squeeze

Sharing your dreams with someone is one thing, but sharing the same dream is another.

The dream of moving abroad, to start a new life, embrace a new culture and experience new things was a shared dream, resting in the pipeline until the time was right for it to be lived.

Equally, sharing your goals with someone is one thing, but sharing the same goal is something else.

And as fate would have it, R and I now share a very important goal.

We both have to learn Spanish. Juntos.

It’s funny, because when we first started learning languages – we were learning different ones.

But with our shared dream unleashed, and a move to Spain on the horizon, our goals aligned. As much as it is oh so important, and healthy, to have your own interests and hobbies, there is something very special about having a shared vision, a shared goal. A shared experience.

Fluency was the shared goal. But it is over-rated, apparently. What does it even mean to be “fluent”?

I have lost count of how many times I have been asked “Are you fluent yet”? It sounds simple, but it is far from.

We will never be native, so will we ever be “fluent”? Maybe. But it will take years, and years (and years and years…)  

So, in our bid to strive for the next best thing, we find ourselves on an interesting, fun and at times, challenging journey. One where we celebrate our successes (like making a phone call sin-stutter) and feel on top of the world putting our new life skills into practice.

Other times, we despair, wondering if we will ever get to where we want to be and achieve that anticipated “fluency” status.

We each have our strengths, and our weaknesses. We both have off days, and we probably always will. After a long week of work, having to study, or speak in a different language requires effort. But it is so rewarding to see the progress, in ourselves and in each other.

We have gone from sharing a few words to full sentences, and even brief conversations. We speak “comfortably” in the house, able to communicate basic emotions and answer the all-important “How was your day”?

We help to fill in each other’s gaps, but there is un problema with this. The risk of two non-natives learning together is… How do we know if either of us are right?!

As I said, there are challenges, and frustrations, and changing dynamics. When did this unintentional teacher/student relationship develop?! But for every annoying correction (otherwise known as constructive criticism), and forced hour of “let’s only talk in Spanish” there are plenty of laughs, with “Why did I say that?!” or “Guess what happened today” kick-starting most conversations.

We’ve both made some pretty hilarious mistakes after all, and there is something precious about debriefing over them together, or with friends in the same situation.

We want to see each other thrive (after all, it’s much easier to have someone to fall back on when you trip over your words or have a complete blank in public)!

Just like a relationship, it is important is to keep things fresh and interesting. So, whichever way we chose to learn on any given day, we try to make it fun, whether that involves practising in the park with a picnic in the sun (incomplete without some ice-cold cervezas), learning songs, or binge-watching Spanish shows on Netflix…

Last week however, we took it a step further. Invited along by some friends, we spent a Saturday evening side-stepping and swaying our way through a beginners Bachata dance class, following instructions solo en español.

I sold the idea to R as a spontaneous new experience with an underlying language learning opportunity. I was quietly confident after my previous dance “ordeal” and suddenly, standing vulnerable in front of a huge mirror and a whole class of people seemed a lot less daunting than it did last year. I knew I would at least understand something this time round!

And it was fantástico! Not only did we understand most of the class, but we learnt a few moves too. While some refer to this Dominican dance as “sensual salsa”, R described it as “the Gay Gordons ‘with hips’” (those of you familiar with traditional Scottish country dancing will appreciate that soft rhythmic hip movements are not a key feature of this Ceilidh favourite)!  

With my main squeeze by my side, we will practise the basic steps of language learning, each taking turns to lead.

We will trip over our feet and make mistakes more toe-curling than hip-swirling, but hopefully we will advance to more complex moves one day, towards the grande finale of “fluency…”

Learning together, learning always.

Sharing your dreams with someone is one thing, but sharing the same dream is another.



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