learning spanish muy bien


My dad and his family and my last name, all Chilean. I did Spanish A-Levels, was pretty obsessed. Used to sit there translating Shakira songs as well as postcards from my Chilean abuelo. But then I didn’t speak Spanish for 10 years because I went to art school and became a critic. And maybe this is me turning 30, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the other lives I could have lived. I could have done languages in uni. I could have not failed my driving test at 18. But I was anxious on those driving lessons and I was anxious speaking Spanish. I don’t really care anymore. Who cares if I make mistakes when I’m speaking? Who cares!!!!! I don’t care if a non-native English speaker makes a mistake when we’re talking??? I am always just very impressed they know more than one language. quΓ© guay. Entonces, earlier this year I started dreaming spanish which just means immersing myself in the language using youtube, podcasts, streamers & music in an attempt to remember todo lo que sabΓ­a en el pasado. It took a while but stuff started coming back and then it was time for –


that IS my referral link because why wouldn’t i share it. basically, italki is a language learning website. I went on it. I filtered for spanish teachers. I filtered for teachers based in Chile. Lessons are roughly 8 quid for half an hour. I booked a slot. Nervous but not so nervous I wimped out (I’m not 18 anymore, I am strong, I am 30). I met my teacher! I explained in broken still-returning A-Level-Spanish that I wanted to learn Chilean spanish and he said… NO.

hahahahaha. now, I have been so art-minded for 10 years I never looked into this, and ultimately I think anything I want to do is possible, no matter the reality. So, I did not know that Chilean Spanish is supposed to be the hardest in the world. The teacher explains to me it is the Scottish of English. He says no one can understand them. He says no one pronounces the ends of their words unless they are trying to be middle class. He explains that Spanish colonisers tried to get to Chile, and sort of did, but the indigenous languages there really stood their ground because the ANDES were in the way of easy colonisation. GOOD FOR THE MOUNTAINS. so the language is not Castilian spanish by any means. Even other people in South America don’t understand them

I am… dejected. Not completely because I am more deluded than anything. I just cannot believe that I left it 10 years and now I am doing Spanish on hard mode. It’s fine. I now have TWO teachers on iTalki. One who is teaching me Spain-Spanish to ease me into it, and one who is just speaking with their full Chilean accent. I think between the two of them, I can do it.

I also started going to a language exchange group in a pub on a weeknight where hispanohablantes speak english and us lot speak spanish. It’s been really good practice, although I haven’t been able to make it for a few weeks because of my health. But one night I was there, I told a man from Uruguay that my Dad was from Chile but he doesn’t speak spanish because he moved from Chile when he was 3 and he said, ‘he isn’t chilean then. you are more chilean than him’ and as someone who has no contact with their ‘dad’, i enjoyed the diaspora burn.

Mostly I wanted to write this because I am kicking myself for not picking it up again sooner. I could have been doing italki lessons with Chileans for years. If anyone has a language they used to study, I think you should get back into it. I can feel new connections forming in my brain. I keep laughing in lessons at phrases

es un freaky = he’s a weirdo

estuvimos cuatro gatos = we were four cats = there weren’t many people there

in southern chile, instead of the exclamation BOY OH BOY, which would be chico ohhh chico, the clipped way of speaking turns it into something that sounds more like SHIKASHIKA and i just say that constantly in my head now . SHIKASHIKA

anyway. i’m pretty happy. i have a lesson tonight where i am going to read teacher no.1 my daily routine. love having homework again? one day I will go to chile in person and say shikashika to everyone. I got a little ping on my 23andme recently to say they had more data to zero in on my Indigenous American genetic group as being part of the Mapuche people in northern chile. It also pins me directly to the Santiago Metropolitan Region which is where I know my family was/is from. I don’t know if any of them are there now. They must be? I would like to find them somehow. But first, I gotta learn how to speak!!!