A few weeks ago I wrote about looking up how to say lime and lemon in Spanish. While I didn’t find a straightforward answer, I did find a helpful post on a blog that explained that it has to do both with word usage and regional varieties of actual fruit. I also found a comment on that blog, which explores Latino topics from a gringa perspective, asserting that they were appropriating culture instead of appreciating it. I definitely don’t have the answer to the question of when cultural exchange is the former and when it’s the latter, but I do know that it is important to regularly and genuinely consider your own perspective and motivation and do your best to appreciate other cultures as valid and important.
I also think it is important to follow up on things, in life and in the Spanish acquisition process. When you follow up in Spanish on things you’e encountered or learned, you reinforce them in your brain. In reality, it takes multiple interactions with something to really learn and remember it. In learning you have to make time for review and reinforcement. Ideally, the things you’re learning will come up in your everyday life and provide a chance for review that way.
Shortly after writing about lemon/lime/limón/etc., I encountered a real life usage of that language. Currently, my favorite kind of tea is mango green tea, but I’m always big on trying new things and mixing things up so I decided to try a new flavor. After perusing the extensive selection at the grocery store, I decided on lemon grass. I took it to work the next day and while waiting for my water to heat up, grabbed a tea bag and casually started reading the text. I flipped it over and, lo and behold, español! And not just any español, the enigmatic limón!
I am always excited to come across Spanish in an organic way and I was extra delighted this time to come across something I had just looked up and thought about. Isn’t it funny when that happens? You talk about an old movie with a friend and later that night you’re flipping channels and there it is. You’re in the car, talking about your favorite song from middle school, and boom, it comes on the radio. In this case, I got to see a real life use of limón: at least for lemon grass tea, the Spanish equivalent is té de limón. I will remember this usage much better through having first gotten a structured explanation and then having that followed up by encountering the language in my everyday life.
Of course, you can’t rely solely on organic opportunities for review. You must find a structured way to integrate repetition into your language acquisition process. This could include making flashcards for new words you learn and keeping an ever-increasing stack of them to review each day or at least a few times a week. That way, you have a physical reminder of the word or phrase and it won’t just get lost in the shuffle. You can also use language learning apps on your phone, which will build in review and reinforcement for you. A combination of structured learning and natural language use will make for significant improvement.
Download Pars Omni for free today to take advantage of a great structured and natural language acquisition tool.