I had a client yesterday who spoke fluent English. It was fun, and a good confidence builder, because I actually understood her questions, and actually had a few answers. But, ironically, I found the Spanish for the cita coming to my brain before the English. I chuckled with the client about my inability to do a prenatal check-up in anything other than broken Spanish. As someone who has spent some time thinking about education, this is an interesting phenomenon to me. I learned all these new skills along with some rudimentary Spanish at the same time. The language and the skills became linked in my brain to where now I have to re-think how I communicate in English during an appointment.
I've always been interested in other languages, but mostly have just played around with words. Everyone who has become fluent in a language other than their first has told me that you have to be immersed. I think that's true, since after only 2 1/2 weeks I have a rather functional grasp of the language. I probably speak like a two year old, though--with no articles, wrong conjugations of verbs, and a sprinkling of English thrown in. The motivation to continue to learn, though, is high when you are required to communicate. So, I've started moving beyond the statements in my handy-dandy Spanish handbook for Casa, and asking the secretaries if they can help me to understand some other things. And it's feeling more like a fun challenge, rather than something stressful. I think I'll definitely spend a lot more time studying Spanish before I come back here next summer, though, so I'll sound less like a toddler.