One of my favorite things here in Spain is getting the opportunity to help my host dad learn English. It’s refreshing to feel like I know something for once, after spending all day swimming in a plethora of new Spanish words. It’s oftentimes very slow going, but rewarding nonetheless.
Just the other night we were working on English, and he finally understood how to make the ‘th’ sound. I told him to make the ‘z’ sound (which sounds like –th in Spain), and suddenly he could pronounce everything! He began saying all the –th words with growing excitement. “Four-TH, Fif-TH, Six-TH, Seven-TH, Eigh-TH!” It was such an incredible breakthrough moment and I was so proud!
Often times he’ll try to say words in English. In the mornings he’ll say “Hello!” and “How are you?” He also uses the words breakfast, lunch and dinner, which sounds more like “brake-fasht, loonch and deener,” but at least he tries.
Since the beginning, he’s improved a lot. He can now successfully pronounce ‘work’ instead of ‘jork’ and also understands the concept of ‘does’ and ‘do’ (which are actually really confusing for non-native speakers. It was really tricky to explain). It’s so fascinating to explain something that seems like second nature, because all of the sudden the process isn’t as simple. There are so many words and phrases I now ask myself why we use and say. Teaching English to my host dad not only has taught me to see English through another perspective, but also has reminded me to be patient with my own learning process as well.