How I Learned Spanish...Again: Diaz

Posted: Apr 22 2014

Ok, so this isn’t really true. 

The Background
Spanish was actually my first language as a baby, but once I turned 2 and a half and started to go to preschool, my spoken language promptly turned to English and I’m told I never looked back. My dad’s American and my mom’s originally from Latin America but she spoke English too, so we just all started speaking English to each other.


Fast forward 9 years later, and one day my mom switched back to Spanish for a brief moment. She says she doesn’t know why she suddenly decided to say something in Spanish, but one day instead of speaking to me in English, she asked me in Spanish to get her a cereal bowl in the kitchen.


It’s like when the record on a turntable just stops. I said “What? Can you say that in English cause I don’t understand”. My mom was shocked. She didn’t realize that I had completely lost my Spanish comprehension and speaking ability. And it wasn’t just me, my little brother was also speaking perfect English, with no ability to form words in Spanish.

My mom & dad spoke English = My brother & I spoke English


How My Mom Taught Us Spanish…Again

After that day it’s like my mom got hit by a thunderbolt. I don’t remember too much about that period but my mom says she got really sad about that linguistic realization. She says that night she decided she would stop speaking to us in English…period. So slowly she recounts that over time we started comprehending Spanish again. After our comprehension got better, we were still responding to her in English even though she was speaking to us in Spanish. 

Mom spoke Spanish = We all spoke English

So her next tactic to make us actually speak Spanish was to ignore us until we addressed her in Spanish. So not only did we have to start speaking to us in Spanish, this tactic had an added bonus in that my dad learned Spanish too. Granted, it took time, but it happened. Today I may not speak native Spanish, I‘m told by some that I sound like a gringa, but nevertheless I do well in the spoken language. So much so that I was able to study for a semester in Guatemala in college.


Mom & dad spoke Spanish = We all spoke (& speak) Spanish


-Zee Diaz
Zee is a writer for Hispanic.com 
Have any additional questions on how I learned Spanish? Leave them in the comments and I’ll respond.

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