One reason I chose to come to Honduras was to practice my Spanish. Sounds like there would be plenty of opportunities to do that here, but it’s still a challenge. As in many other places I’ve traveled, I am surrounded by English speakers. The couple who live upstairs from my room and own the property are American. The volunteers are from the US, UK, Finland, Germany, Austria, Israel, France, Italy, and Brazil. English is our common language. I do get to practice my Spanish in class, but I’m really here to help the students learn English, so the more Spanish I speak with them the less English they’ll learn. At restaurants, every server wants to practice their English. So, I have to challenge myself to speak with people I wouldn’t normally speak to. I’m not good at starting conversations with strangers in English, so it’s definitely a challenge to so in Spanish.
The other day, I ventured into the “city” alone by taking a yellow school bus there for the 30-minute ride. I did speak Spanish with several shopkeepers, but when I entered the tourist office everyone wanted to speak English with me. On the way back, the bus was packed and a tall Honduran kid squeezed into the seat next to me (I thought the short seats on my side were single seats, but they all filled up). I did chat with him off and on; he was polite, but not very talkative. The good news is that I am mostly understanding people. I just need to speak more. I did order a meal over the phone, and phone conversations in another language are always a challenge. And I’ve had one local person tell me that my Spanish is good.
One thing that will definitely help is the Study Buddies program of the Honduras Child Alliance. Once a week, I will meet with my tutor, Carlos. He is just finishing high school and attends our adult English class. The plan is that he will teach me Spanish for 45 minutes, and I will teach him English for 45 minutes. We’re off to a great start and I couldn’t ask for a friendlier tutor. I will write more about the adult classes in another post.
So, I’ll do my best to rise to the challenge. I’m counting on my commenters to remind me to step outside my comfort zone and start conversations with strangers.