Forgetting my English?
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
When people used to ask me if I thought it possible to forget my English, I would shake my head and laugh and just think, "That will NEVER happen to me!"
I mean, why should it?
English was my first language. (I didn't learn to speak Spanish until I was five.) And it was the language I spoke, read and wrote everyday for the 26 years I lived in the U.S.
But then I moved to Mexico.
We lived with my in-law's for the first three years, so the only time I spoke English was when Hubby and/or the kiddies and I were alone. (I was taught to NEVER speak English in front of non-English speakers and vice-versa.) The only time I really got to speak English was during my only trip to the U.S., two years after we moved here.
Then we moved into our current rental home. English was spoken more and more, but still Spanish was our main language. And eight years later, it continues to be. I can carry on complete conversations in English with Hubby and the kiddies, but we always revert to Spanish. I rarely get to speak English with other English speakers. The only time that happens is when my neighbors come to hangout in Hubby's shop or when I run into El Gringo and his daughter downtown. But those instances are few and far between.
I don't really think I'll ever completely forget my English, because I write, read and think in English every day. And I watch TV and movies in English, too. But when it comes to actually speaking to another person? I really need to practice!
Last week, I received a phone call from someone in the States. It was the moment I had been waiting for. A chance to speak English to someone other than Hubby or the kiddies or someone I'm related to. And I froze! I got all tongue-tied. I mumbled and stuttered and I'm pretty sure I spoke with a heavy accent like Sofia Vergara on Modern Family.
Hubby thinks it was a combination of nerves and excitement or maybe even stage-fright. But I'm not so sure. Maybe I really am forgetting my English.