–“So, when you think… Do you do it in English or in Spanish?”
If I earned a penny every time I hear this question, I would probably not be either a millionaire nor rich but I would probably have enough to buy me a cup of tea (probably not). The point is that it is a common question when you are considered ‘bilingual’’. I guess that getting that title was on my bucket list, although I’ve realized from my years of studying English that becoming bilingual is more about being able to communicate (fairly decently) than actually mastering the language because let’s face it, I’m still learning my own language (If not forgetting it bit by bit on the way).
So, in this blog, I wanted to tackle two questions people ask me about being bilingual, therefore if you speak more than one language and have friends who ask you the same kind of questions you can throw them these little nuggets of wisdom (and save yourself a lot of time -you are welcome.) Let’s start with the question of the million dollars.
1. Do you think in English or Spanish?
From the bilingual perspective (not someone that has just started to learn the language) I can confirm that -No, I don’t think in Spanish and then translate it in English, at least until I get caught up in an idea that I don’t find words for it. Then, I would go quickly through my Spanish vocabulary storage and carry on. You see, when you speak, you don’t think 100% of the time every single word you wanna say, at least you don’t notice it because your brain processes the idea you have in mind very fast in an abstract way allowing you to put into words what you are familiar with. The same goes for English.
Having a limited vocabulary means that your range of choices is smaller, so in a way, your brain does not need to go through several options before pulling one word out. To that extent, we could answer pretty fast if we are very familiar with the subject. However, one thing is true -practice makes the master, so most probably a native speaker would be faster or more spontaneous (definitely) in a spot. A funny and practical (and very real) example? Trying to talk to someone you admire, such as someone you find kinda cute -could end up in your brain shrinking and you coming up with something that seems to have been taken from Yoda’s script (cute still though, right?).
Yeah, be a bit patient with your bilingual friend, please (seriously, please).
2. In what language do you dream?
Tricky question. Lucky if I remember what I’ve dreamed of, but I have noticed a certain change in my dreams as time goes by. I will use another analogy for the sake of this question.
Doesn’t it happen to you that you are so stressed about an exam and you’ve been studying all day long yet then you go to sleep and you spent all night half asleep and a half ‘’studying’’? You wake up with the feeling that you’ve been going over the subject, you even remember some graphs, formulas, words or whatever your subject is about. Am I crazy? I’ve even woken up in the middle of the night thinking -“I need to go back to sleep so I can keep studying”. Not even kidding. Well, maybe I am crazy, but something similar happens in English. I’ve had dreams where I couldn’t tell what language I was talking but then wake up with the sense of having had a conversation in English (even though maaaybe not quite there yet). I could even grasp what the discussion was about but not sure what words I used for it. So, there you have it.
-Maybe I just need to go and get checked up, who knows.
Anyways, would you like to know more about my journey in learning a new language and remaining (mostly) sane? And…
Tell me about you! Are you learning a language or thinking about starting one someday?
What are your struggles or what keeps you from starting?
Leave me a comment, would love to hear from you!
The fearless gal xxx