Why #iShareLingo

MaraGonzalez500By Mara González

Eight years ago I left my home in Chihuahua, Mexico to come to Denver, Colorado. My goal was to learn English in one year and go back home to find a better job that would help me pay for college and support my mom and three siblings.

I thought that if I knew some English, I could be a secretary at the maquiladora (factory) where my mom works in Chihuahua, and make a bit more money than I was making as a cashier at a tiendita (little grocery store).

Once I got to Denver, I realized that despite my love for the language, learning English was not as easy as I thought! I could understand quite a bit, but my constant frustration with not being able to communicate was killing me! Every time I tried to say something in English, I got a big nudo en la garganta (lump in my throat) and began to cry. I felt stupid.

I was afraid that others would make fun of me because of my accent.

If you knew me then (or now) you may have noticed that I love talking with people, so can you imagine how hard it was to not being able to talk with others? I was miserable. However, I did not let my frustration get in the way, and as soon as I started trying I realized that I was not alone.

During my journey learning a second language, I have been blessed to encounter people who believe in me and who want me to succeed in life.

Poco a poco (little by little) I began to accept myself and laugh at my silly mistakes. I knew I was smart; I just needed to be patient. I am always asking questions, listening to others’ pronunciations, and don’t mind at all when people correct me! I actually welcome their feedback and ask for it.

My teachers, family, and friends are always challenging me to improve my vocabulary, and to speak up. Now I am often told that I speak a little too loud in English, but that is true in Spanish too!

I have worked hard to learn English, to communicate with others, and to strive to be myself in a second language.

I am grateful for all the people who have helped me along the way. Practicing another language is crucial and I am certain that I would not have been able to improve and learn English so quickly if it weren’t for all the native English speakers who were and continue to be willing to help me.

Learning a new language is hard, but not impossible, and it is much easier and fun if you immerse yourself in the culture of the language you are trying to learn. My plan was to be here for only one year. Eight years later I am still here, learning and improving as much as I can.

I encourage you to try! If I am able to learn a new language as an adult, tú también! (so can you!) I invite you to join the ShareLingo movement and let us know why you share lingo.

About ShareLingo
The ShareLingo concept is really simple. Instead of learning from a white board or a computer, we help English learners meet Spanish learners for face-to-face practice together. A bilingual facilitator uses our method and materials to keep things moving so you are never bored. We have language learning solutions for individuals, businesses, non-profits, and schools. Learn more at www.sharelingo.org.

James Archer

James Archer is the founders of The ShareLingo Project - a Social Enterprise that connects English and Spanish speakers for face-to-face practice. This model breaks down both linguistic and cultural barriers for individuals, businesses, and non-profits.