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Living in Mexico- Speaking Spanish-The Fear Factor


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When researching for my articles and eventual book on second language acquisition, I learned that the fear factor is probably the greatest issue for adults in developing a high degree of spoken fluency in the chosen language. Children rarely suffer this since they are so highly motivated to play with their little pals even though those little pals are speaking something funny. They want to be able to communicate and it that “wanting" that drives the fear away or it never occurs to children to be afraid in the first place.

But, we adults, not so.

We fear looking and sounding stupid. Worse yet, we feel, “Oh my God, what if I have an emergency?" The deal is this: If you come to Mexico, as the lady in the above quote indicates she is, you probably will have circumstances in which you might feel, well, stupid. You will have situations in which you will flush red, feel the heat of embarrassment creep up the back of your neck and spread over your humiliated face, all making you feel you want to crawl under a rock. Surprised?

Don't be.

The truth is that if you are going to come to Mexico this is probably the very best country in which to screw up Spanish. That is because Mexicans, most of them anyway, have got to be some of the most patient people on the face of the earth. They've got to be the folks God Himself dealt an extra measure of humility, grace, and patience because they've had to put up with someone like me for going on five years now. I've butchered, hacked, forgotten, ruined, and only God know what else to this beautifully romantic language and all the Mexicans do is listen and gently correct me. I've grown linguistically, I am convinced, because of some of these people taking the time to correct me so lovingly and doing so like I was their poor, ding-a-ling American cousin that they now have the responsibility to take care of because he's finally come home where he belongs.

Doug Bower is a freelance writer and book author. His most recent writing credits include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Associated Content, Transitions Abroad, International Living, Escape Artist, and The Front Porch Syndicate.



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