This is What happens when you learn a second language

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Sometimes your second language runs away from your lips like water from a faucet.  Your mind can’t even catch up with your tongue but your alma knows what you are saying.  You don’t even have to translate in your head because you understand intuitively. It’s magical.  That feeling that leaves you on a language high all day.  You want to use your new words with anyone and everyone who will listen.

A second language wraps around your tongue and rearranges your core.  All of a sudden you mismatch words and displace accents.  Everyone takes notice of how to you a “store” is no longer a store but a “tienda”.  Love is not “love”; it is amor.  Even the way you pronouce English words like “economic” have changed because the Spanish phonetic way has taken over your native tongue.  It enters your ears and your minds processes and decodes it at lightening speed.  Before you know it, la otra lengua has already become apart of you.

Are you fluent? They always ask youYou answer “Si” and begin to follow up with a “pero” but something stops you.  What exactly does fluent mean? Are you able to talk vibrantly about football or astrophysics in your choosen tongue? Probably not. But then again,you aren’t good at talking about those things in English either.

You can, however, translate a Los Rakas jam, buy your weekly comida and tell your lover que estas en amorado.  If you were dropped off in a Spanish-language country, you‘d survive.  Are you fluent? You‘re fluent enough.  Fluent enough to state your bilingual ability on job applications and translate for your parents in the store. You are competent. You spit the slang, know all the transtitional terms and adjectives.  You switch accents because yours is a mixture of your Mexican American bestie, the Cubana at work and your Panamanian bae.  Your brand of Spanish is unique.

Your thoughts are sometimes in la lengua.  Or a hybrid of it and the one your parents taught you.  Thoughts don’t know whether to present themselves in either language so they present themselves in both.

You choose this life or maybe it choose you.  Even though it gets hard, you are grateful to have the language in your back pocket or your front pocket or wherever.

So read books. No, read libros en la lengua de tu alma. Because more often then not you will find that the characters will speak toyouYou will learn from the ways that authors twist their words and make scenarios come alive that creatividad is universal.

Talk to others. Whether native or second or third language learners. Get lost in their stories and share your own.  Tell them about the time you forgot the word that looks like embarrassed was actually the word pregnant in front of your baes parents.  Swap stories about having to whip out the bilingualness after getting lost during study abroad trips or trips to new parts of your hometown. Let them know why you fell in love with it in the first place.

Learn the history of your new language.   Understand that people were ridiculed for speaking it at one point and that people are still being discriminated against for speaking the language you have chosen to speak.  Learning another language is a privilege especially when it’s a pastime.  Never seek to be the voice for the community whose language you take part in but rather be an ally.

Lastly, listen with your heart.  It is easy to get caught up with grammar rules, verbs conjugations but most wonderful part of language learning and speaking is the way your mouth works to form new works.  Embrace that.

Let it be the road map to new places.  Let your second language open up dialogue and oportunidades. Let it run like a faucet and don’t be afraid of moments when you can’t think of the word. Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.❞Now, you have two languages in your heart.  This is what happens when you learn a second language.

Black Girl, Latin World on Quirky Brown Love’s 200+ Amazing Black Bloggers List

PHOTO CREDIT: Quirky Brown Love

Black Girl, Latin World has long been a vessel of expression for me.  It’s been a place where I can come and be honest about experiences, share cultural gems and inspire.  Somewhere along the way it became something more.  You, the readers, began to share with me your stories and motivate me.  That is why I write. To cultivate community.

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11 Things Black-American Spanish Speakers Encounter

Via Giphy

Let’s be real. Being a Black-American Spanish speaker is fun. You get to dip in on all the chisme like an undercover spy, and flirt with cuties in two languages. However, it can be difficult when people don’t understand your passion for this romance language. Here, I outline 11 things that happen when you speak your second language:

1. You’re asked on more than one occasion, “Where are you from?” And when you answer, the person inquires, “But where is your family from?”

Society is just now getting hip to the notion of an Afro-Latina. So, the fact that your Spanish is causing conversations about that African Diaspora is a plus. You just wish they would be satisfied when you told them your family is from the U.S.

2. If you are in school, your classmates always want to copy off of your paper in Spanish class.

Okay, so your peers didn’t do their conjugation charts? But they think they’re going to get the answers you spent your precious time working on? Ay, no.

3. Latinas often address you in English when they first meet you because well…eres Negra.

Even when you are with your Spanish-speaking amigos, Latinos greet everyone besides you in their native tongue. When you start a conversation in Spanish, they are in utter shock and amazement.

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Diasporic Realness: Telling Our Stories- The First Ever Guest Writers Month

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Diasporic Realness: Telling Our Stories is here! What is it you ask?  It is Black Girl, Latin World’s first ever guest writers month!  A whole month of new voices, fresh perspectives and a lot of Blackness.

Want to be apart of it? Hit up BGLW in the contact box below with a brief pitch on what you want to write.  In addition to articles, creative submissions like poetry, essays, video content, reflections and the like are great. Please make sure the content is your own.

❤ BGLW

Spotlight of the Month: Facebook Community Raising Afrolatino Kids

  

PHOTO CREDIT: Shannon Guzman

The Guzman Family: Shannon, Bernard, Matthew and Milagros

PHOTO CREDIT: Shannon Guzman
Every month, Black Girl, Latin World showcases awesome organizations that champion Afrolatinidad!   This month’s addition to the Spotlight of the Month is none other than the social media space Raising Afrolatino Kids. I came across this facebook group some months ago and I enjoy the discussions, resources and insight that the communidad shares on intercultural families and Afrolatino culture. No, I am not a parent but I do share many of the things that I learn with my own family when we discuss intercultural families/dating and the like.  Feel free to check out this interview where co-founder Shannon Guzman tells us why she is so passionate about Afro-Latino families, multicultural representation in the media and where she sees RALK going in the future. 

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Tienes que hacer cayo

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I was talking about life as a 20-something year old with one of my friends, Rebecca. I was filling her in on the good, the bad, the ugly.  Lamenting about how life is turning out a bit different than I envisioned 10 years ago.  In mid-sentence, my friend asked me if I had seen a guitar player’s fingers.

I said, “yes”.  Although, I was a bit confused as to why she asked me about a guitar player’s’ fingers.

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