On the struggles of reading…in Spanish

Happy Hump Day!

Just a small reflection post.

As some of you may or may not know, I’m bilingual – I was born in Bogota, Colombia and my native language is Spanish. At home, we speak mostly Spanish, and our parents have always done their best to enforce the rule in an attempt to keep the connection to our roots. As a result, I’m a fluent speaker. However, growing up in the States means I never got a proper education when it comes to the language. So, while I may speak it with (mostly) ease, I suffer in the reading (unless it’s religious stuff – all my religious education was in Spanish) and writing department. In contrast, my second major in college was English. I’m a talented (or so I’ve been told – I don’t want to sound like I’m full of myself) writer in English, and I pride myself in my way with words. It goes without saying that the same can’t be said for my Spanish skills. To rectify this travesty, I’ve taken steps over the years – I made sure to take all the Spanish courses offered when I was in high school, and tried to translate my own work once (to hilarious results, if my parents’ reactions were anything to go by). It helped a little, but not as much as I’d like. Then I realized I was completely overlooking the easiest (for me, at least) way to improve my Spanish – reading in it.

So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to read more books in Spanish (at least one a month). I figured it couldn’t possibly be that bad, right?

Riiiiight….

So I finished the first one I decided to tackle last night (Anna Dressed in Blood – I bought the Spanish translation since I’d been eyeing that book for a while). I’ve learned a few things:

  1. I know way less than I thought I did.
    • On average, I learned a new word every 2-3 pages, and I had to re-read passages more than once (though, to be fair, that was mostly because I got distracted).
  2. I’m an idiot for not starting sooner.
    • The first few chapters were excruciating. In English, I can get through a 250 page book in a few hours – it took me maybe 5 times as long to finish this one. It was almost painful, mostly because I just wanted to read through it as fast as possible, but my brain kept stuttering over the words I’d never seen written down, or just plain didn’t know. It got easier as I went, with my brain picking up the different rhythm and flow of the Spanish language. Eventually, I got to a pace that I felt much more comfortable with, though obviously still not up to par with my English reading pace.
  3. I should pick books originally in Spanish, to avoid losing things in translation.
    • I feel like I may or may not have missed out on a few things. That might be the limits of my reading ability talking, but some parts seemed a little off – some words just didn’t feel right. I’m not sure if that’s because the Spanish used in the translation is slightly different from the dialect I speak, or something else. But anyway, I’ll be trying to read books originally in Spanish from now on. Since Anna Dressed in Blood is a duology, I’ll be reading the second part in Spanish, too, and then I’ll move on to titles originally in Spanish.

So there you have it! My first foray into seriously picking up a book in my native tongue turned out much better than I thought it would (despite my list above), and I learned stuff! Some stuff about me, some stuff about the language. Those of you out there like me, if you haven’t tried this already, you totally should! It was fun, and I look forward to continuing this exercise until it’s no longer an exercise, but a habit.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Image Credit: Image found via Google Image Search on pixgood.com

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2 thoughts on “On the struggles of reading…in Spanish

  1. Thank you! I feel so much better after reading this. I am not bilingual (but would love to be). I’ve been trying to learn Spanish since high school (let’s just say it’s been a while) and don’t feel I can properly put a sentence together much less have a conversation. But, one of the things I did in trying to learn was to pick up a Spanish translation of a book I knew well (Huck Finn by Mark Twain, you might have heard of it 😉 ). I felt like such a dunce trying to read it. Knowing someone who already speaks the language fluently might struggle with reading it makes me feel better. I’m back to trying again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Never too late to learn a second language! It is pretty tough – but well worth the reward in the end, I think. Good luck! If you ever need a Spanish-speaking buddy, feel free to reach out!

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