Someone asked me for directions yesterday, and....
I have been practicing a lot on improving my Spanish, and yesterday I was sitting outside on my lunch break, and a Hispanic gentleman asked me for directions. MAN - I was so excited to use my Spanish, and this was my chance to shine! Here is a synopsis of how it went... enjoy!
Him: Hola, habla español?
Me: un poquito
Next, the expected thing happened - he began talking REALLY fast, so I pulled out my 'mas despacio' on him, which helped.... then he pulled out his cell phone with a picture of the number '400', and I was sitting in front of '300', so I thought this would be a piece of cake. So...
Me: Ah! Está tresciento
Then he stared at me with a blank look on his face waiting for me to tell him more, and then it happened. I choked. I was speechless. I wanted to tell him to go down the street to the corner, and the building would be on the right.
Instead, I pointed down the street..... and could think of nothing in Spanish except 'alli'.
Needless to say, I have spent a significant amount of time drilling navigation dialogue into my brain today.
...ah. Such is the pleasure of learning!
Don't fret, primus, it happens to everyone. I use Spanish a lot at my job, and when I first started learning, sometimes the oh-my-gosh-freeze-up-completely reaction would hit me hard. One thing that has helped a lot is spending a lot of hours speaking Spanish conversationally with various native speakers that I feel comfortable with (through PalTalk, at work, school, etc). This has taught me how to stay relaxed when speaking (something that is important for maintaing pronunciation and your level of fluency as well).
Poco a poco se anda lejos, hombre.
We've all been there!!
Primus, the same thing happened to me last month when I was on a trip. I spent the next hour going over in my head what I should have said, and pledged to myself to keep trying.
As fortune would have it, I ended up on a plane home with a lady from México who didn't know any English at all. She saw me studying and writing in Spanish and we started talking.
It started out slowly, but in no time we were talking and having a ball together.
The moral of the story: Don't give up. You will be able to do this if you keep trying.
Excelente Santihp. A nosotros todos pasa o ya ha pasado igual.
If I have one recommendation it's - form a habit of trying out several different answers. Nobody will care or notice if you're slow ("well all North Americans seem to be a bit slow when I talk to them" think the Hispanic gentry) but if you practice this it can get you off the hook of simply going dumb.
The last time I was in Spain (Catalonia actually) it was after an absence of 5 years or so, it was also my sister in law's, 70th birthday trip and I was there mainly as an interpreter. So we got to the Metro station in Barcelona and the system was totally incomprehensible. Along came a guy who sorted us out, in Spanish (Catalan would have been impossible) and who was going almost all the way we were. He chattered on and I've never worked so hard in my life trying not just to keep up but to answer the questions. Happily, the habit came back and I probably translated each sentence, on average, three times to find some sort of answer.
Creo que a algunos nos ha pasado eso. En mi caso, mi inglés es nuy básico, y algunas veces no puedo entender nada de lo que me están diciendo. En todo caso, creo que es imprescindible practicar con un nativo para poder adquirir cierta experiencia en la conversación. Esto nos va a ayudar a adquirir seguridad.