I have been learning Spanish off and on for about a year. This week, I had a second wind and made good progress. It’s starting to make a lot more sense!

The words are more familiar. I can see patterns now, emerging in the grammar. It’s starting to make sense, becoming less bewildering. Every day, the words (las palabras), new and old, surface unbidden from the depths of my brain. The words are forming phrases and sentences, which are mostly correct.

I had almost given up. I am too old, I thought, to learn another language. It is hard, difficult, frustrating. I imagine that breaking a code must be a similar experience. You have to know what makes the code tick, understand its rhythms and nuances and tricks. A language – like a code – needs to seep into your skin, burrow into it and under it, become part of who you are. You must marinate yourself in it; there is no other way. Osmosis and repetition and time and stubbornness are core ingredients.

I envy children born to multi-lingual parents. I was not so lucky. English only in my household. Even at school, I missed out. French was offered opposite art, and art was a more beguiling temptation. So here am I, an old(ish) lady, determined to master another language. To be able to say, with pride and fluency and continuing conversation: si señor, yo hablo español.

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