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Last night was the Second Annual Ice Cream Social at Mark and Amy’s, our neighbors a couple of blocks over.  The “first annual” was held last year to get better acquainted with some of the neighbors before later on inviting their children to a backyard Bible club that I had the privilege of co-hosting with Amy.  The invitation to this year’s social was hand-delivered a couple of nights ago by Mark and the girls, out on a neighborhood walk while Amy was out buying the ice cream.

It was a fun time.  A family that I’d met last year was there–the boys had come to our club.  They’ve grown up–one of the boys, Juan, is now in middle school, fresh off an “A” on a social studies test and being challenged by math.  Later on, several other famlies who were new to me arrived.  We talked a little, but with all of the women, Spanish is the first language and English doesn’t come easily enough to make what could be termed flowing conversation.  (However, we had no trouble communicating about grandchildren–one of the moms, I learned very quickly, has a one-month-old grandchild; we new grandmas have no problem making our joyful status known–in any language!)  I stayed and visted for a bit; then, as Michael had had to leave early to go pick up Zach from work, I headed home before it got dark.  

As I walked the several blocks homeward, I pondered how the event would have been different had I known Spanish.  I am not a big fan of imposed bi-lingualism (is that a word?), as far as accommodating everything in America in both English and Spanish.  (I actually had a shirt come through the wash yesterday that had the washing instruction label in Spanish first–I had to search for the English version…that was a first.)  I think that a huge part of being American is learning to speak the language.  But, I also don’t want to be distant from my neighbors–and many of them speak Spanish.  Knowing their language, as in any cross-cultural situation, gives me the ability to become part of their worlds and to grown in relationships from the significant common ground of language. 

I studied Latin for two years in high school; my adult children studied Spanish in college.  Zach is taking high school Spanish.  And, I know a little bit of Spanish already.  I think I’d have no trouble learning.  I want to learn.  And, if I’d known even a fair amount of Spanish last night, I would not have been afraid to try to use it. 

So the Question of the Day:  If you learned Spanish as an adult, how did you do it?  Take a class?  Private lessons?  Self-study?  Immersion?  If you were in my shoes, what steps would you take toward Spanish language acquisition?

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