In One Week is a feature where one or more staff members take on a new habit for a week. In this IOW, Lauren spoke French and Gwyneth spoke Spanish for a full school week.
We need to talk in our respective language from the time the first bell of the school day rings until the last bell of the school day rings, but we can make exceptions for class presentations and when necessary for communicating with teachers or administration.
Nous parlerons dans nos langues respectives à partir du début de la journée scolaire jusqu’à la dernière cloche du jour. La seule exception à cette règle est quand nous avons une présentation en classe et quand il est nécessaire de parler en anglais à fin de communiquer avec nos profs ou l’administration.
Vamos a hablar en nuestras respectivas lenguas empezando al principio del día de escuela hasta el timbre final del día. La única excepción de esta regla es cuando tenemos una presentación en clase y cuando es necesario hablar en inglés para comunicar con nuestras maestras o la administración.
language improvement/amélioration de langue
I think speaking only French for a week really helped develop my conversational skills. As the week progressed, I got more comfortable just launching into a sentence without needing to carefully plan it out ahead of time. It was okay if I didn’t get the conjugations of every tense completely right so long as I got my point across well enough. I found ways to re-word what I was trying to say with words I did know, which is a skill I’ve always wanted to improve. I feel like I’ve also expanded my vocabulary of verbs that I might not have otherwise known I needed. I had my French Interactive Oral on Friday, so I think this prepared me in the best possible way. I’m more confident interjecting with my opinion and overall stronger in my vocabulary.
The reactions were probably the best part. It was funny because some people decided they wanted to only speak with me in French, so I was having conversations with people that I wouldn’t normally talk to. A lot of people also got oddly invested in my experiment, to the point where if I slipped up they’d immediately demand I speak only in French. Most the of the time, though, people just kind of accepted that I was still doing “that French thing,” and that they were probably better off just leaving me alone.
what I learned/ce que j’ai appris
This week taught me how awesome French is. It also reassured me that, even though I’ve always enjoyed speaking it, I’m actually kind of okay at it. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it’d be. Sure, I definitely broke a few times, and there were moments I felt like an idiot, but I overall did pretty well, and I’m proud to see that my four-ish years of French haven’t been a complete waste. I also learned that asking for help is totally cool! Not knowing a conjugation or gender doesn’t make you bad at a language, and usually the person sitting next to you can help you out My most important takeaway, though, was that you can usually get your point across if you talk really loud and make a lot of hand motions.
language improvement/progresión de fluidez
I think my ability to speak in Spanish improved immensely throughout the week. First, my confidence grew. I realized it was okay to take my time and not know the exact words, but that it was better to try my best and work with what I already knew. I had to learn a lot of words that are more conversational by searching up vocabulary on online Spanish dictionaries or asking my fluent speaking friends. Second, I got into a habit where every time I came across sentences, whether I heard them from a teacher or I read them on my paper, I translated it in my head, and made note of what I didn’t know. By the end of the experiment, even my thoughts were switching between English and Spanish.
There were two different reactions I noticed: People who embraced the experiment, and people who asked me to “please, for the love of God, just speak in English.” The more supportive group tried to have conversations with me. This was encouraging, and their patience improved my confidence. It was also nice to see my experiment cause other Spanish students to practice. The less patient group of people was so focused with what they needed to get done in class that they did not have the tolerance for my broken Spanish. This discouraged me from speaking around them at all, and it was during these interactions that I used English the most.
what I learned/que aprindí
I kind of love speaking in Spanish. I think it’s such a beautiful language, and constructing the sentences to try and communicate is actually a really enjoyable task. I loved seeing other timid speakers come out of their shell and try and speak in Spanish with me, and I really appreciate the help I got from fluent speakers. I hope that people who found it offputting continue to challenge themselves to be more patient and not take for granted how easily we can normally communicate with one another. My most important takeaway is that I’m going to speak in Spanish whenever I get the chance. I hope to minor in Spanish in college, and this experiment definitely reinforced that choice for me. I may not be very good, but it’s fun, and through this week I’ve learned that’s all that really matters.