La salud mental no es la única historia.

Spanglish is a bridge to Spanish

Medline Plus, publicado por el gobierno de Los Estados Unidos, dice que la salud mental incluye our wellbeing wellbeing is a great word en español: bienestar) … la salud mental incluye nuestro bienestar emocional, psicológico y mental. Las historias de personas who have suffered poor salud mental are being publicado mucho más, hoy en día, y está bien.

I recognise that talking about la salud mental es muy importante porque it could help someone who is in a dark place to feel that they are not alone. It could inspire someone con dificultades to look for help. Puede reducir el sufrimiento. Puede evitar otro suicidio. Es muy importante.

Las conversaciones sobre la salud mental pueden ocurrir in any context. Por ejemplo, I made 100 video Spanish lessons in 100 days during lockdown. I feel good about that body of work, so I wrote to el periódico local, The Northumberland Gazette, para hablar con ellos sobre mi canal de YouTube. I wanted un poco de publicidad, claro. Hablé con una periodista durante cuarenta minutos. Hablé de la rutina that I made for myself during lockdown. Fue una rutina que incluyó working from home, supporting my child with home-learning, gardening, and creating an introductory curso de cien clases de español.

La periodista asked me about how creating las clases había afectado mi salud mental. I told her the truth. It was good for me to keep busy. Era bueno tener un tipo de obligación. It made me change my outfit every day. It focussed mi atención en algo que me absorbe, que me inspira, que es mi vocación. I created las clases por los estudiantes who can’t get to learning centres por las restricciones de Covid diecinueve. Hablé about the need to fill los espacios in our social lives, with learning español being una opción. Hablé de la comunidad online that was so good to be part of. She talked with me durante mucho tiempo y estoy super contenta con el artículo. The focus, definativamente, el enfoque es la salud mental.

I work in a school y soy madre soltera. Claro, adoro las largas vacaciones, although I sometimes struggle, and when I do, no es justo por mi hija. Cuando yo sufro con la ansiedad, anxiety, ella sufre conmigo. I suppose (… that is a wonderful word en español, I suppose = supongo) … supongo que sufro la ansiedad durante las vacaciones largas por not knowing what to do with myself. I start to feel that I lack purpose y comienzo a girar en espiral.

The first lock down era aún más larga que las vacaciones más largas. I had plenty of work to do, but I managed to fit in making los videos by getting up early. After all, going to bed early no era problema … I wasn’t going to be missing out on any big fiestas. The videos meant I never ran out of tasks. They helped me to formar relaciones, con personas around the world who are interested in learning español, at a time when I might have felt isolated. They gave me something to worry at, instead of nagging my child. Ansiedad no era un problema para mí and a large part of that was writing the scripts, learning them, recording them and publishing them. I was too busy to worry.

La salud mental no es la única historia.

Just as la salud mental no es la única historia, los periódicos no son los únicos medios para publicar una historia hoy en día (nowadays en inglés). Así que yo he decidido escribir la otra parte de la historia about Spanglish Fantástico here, en mi página. Es una historia sobre lenguaje. Es una historia sobre español, sobre learning and teaching español. Es una historia sobre using two lenguajes … inglés y español … at the same time to make understanding el español easier, and to make learning el español más rápido. Es una historia importante for anyone who wants to learn (aprender) or teach (enseñar) el español.

En los años setenta y ochenta, linguist Stephen Krashen wrote his hipótesis sobre la adquisición de un segundo idioma. El elemento más importante, according to Krashen, is what he called “comprehensible input.” In a nutshell, la idea es que we only truly increase our linguistic compentencia when we understand meaningful mensajes in the target lenguaje. Krashen recomienda que beginners should have lots of input from a teacher, un profesor, y también recomienda that demand for learners to produce mensajes in the target lenguaje is low. The focus is on understanding meaning.

Cut to 2006, the year my daughter was born (and I decided to formalize my knowledge of Spanish at the Open University). My daughter got plenty of comprehensible input. Yo le hablaba en español un poco. I had Sky television which, at the time had un canal en español. I recorded los programas para niños and put them on for mi hija to watch; she loved la televisión. When I had my summer school en Santiago de Compostela, una ciudad en el norte de España, I brought back Spanish language versions of children’s programmes from Pocoyo to The Little Princess to Los TeleTubbies. A mi hija le encantaban. She loved them. Her first Spanish words, at the age of 18 months, were a direct quote from Po, the red Telly Tubby: “un mano, dos manos; una pierna, dos piernas.” She said it when we were out for a walk, and she had to repeat herself 2 or 3 times (un mano = one hand, una pierna = one leg … and she gave me the acciones to help me, “un mano, dos manos; una pierna, dos piernas.”) … until por fin I understood that she was hablando español!!!

We made un buen comienzo, mi hija y yo. I bought Spanish language story books. Although la televisión, la música y las conversaciones con un poco de español were no problem for her, she didn’t much like being read to en español. There were words I had never used with her, and there wasn’t the visual or musical stimulation to carry them along. I decided to compromise, and I read the words I knew she could recognize en español. I filled the gaps con inglés. She would have preferred me to drop el español and just use el inglés, but she at least was willing to accept my Spanglish version. She was not willing to accept español puro. This was when I first developed a type of Spanglish to teach Spanish. La idea of using Spanglish for beginners took root en mi mente.

I started work again en 2009, teaching español for Northumberland County Council, using español when estudiantes could understand it, and using inglés to fill the gaps. I loved it. Teaching adultos es un placer, de verdad. I used the Pasos Spanish for beginners’ course as a starting point to build mis clases, y los estudiantes enjoyed su tiempo y sus estudios. Although I was using Spanglish, I had not yet formed la idea that los estudiantes could, and perhaps should use Spanglish too.

Soy una persona extremadamente lenta. I am slow. I feel slow. I think slowly. I can be realmente lenta en darme cuenta … slow to realize things that are glaringly obvious! I started using Spanglish to teach my daughter in 2007, 2008. I used Spanglish to teach in my job for county from 2009. In 2015, 2016 I wrote Spanglish Fantastico, a conversational style, easy introduction to Spanish, that uses every oportunidad to expose the reader to Spanish he or she can understand. I wrote it because I wanted to adapt of Krashen’s comprehensible input for beginners and Spanglish seemed to be la solución perfecta. And yet it wasn’t until lockdown in 2020 that I began in earnest to encourage estudiantes to speak Spanglish as a bridge to communicating en español. Soy muy lenta … but I am persistente también.

Esa persistencia got me to completar the full 100 Days. (En realidad, it might have taken me 102 days … I do remember having un fin de semana off at one point!) 100 Days of Spanish wasn’t all though. I became co-admin of a Facebook grupo que se llama Learn Spanish Through Spanglish, which has nearly 1700 miembros. I met another author, Dan Hall, who has created un libro que se llama My Complete Spanish Language Learning Journal. He agreed that the idea of using a combination of lenguajes para optimizar la cantidad de español that a learner can comprender es una buena manera to get the comprehensible input que los humanos necesitamos para adquirir un segundo lenguaje. Dan invited me onto his YouTube channel to interview me about code swtiching as a language teaching and learning tool. He even managed to get a live stream of one of my regular viewers, Sara Feliz, who is moving to España and who is learning Spanish through Spanglish conmigo. Fue una hora muy emocionante para mí, and you can see the whole interview here.

The best thing about the 100 Days Series was los estudiantes. Estudiantes maravillosos … personas maravillosos who were commenting on los videos, sending mensajes through Facebook and writing emails … all in beautiful, confident Spanglish. Los estudiantes como Sara Feliz who talked with Dan and I in the interview, y como John Adam who has supported and followed my work since I began with mi primer video, día número uno on the 4th of abril 2020. So many beautiful people, John Shaw, John Callery, usan español. Talie Jean de Chattanooga en Tennessee, y Linda Crawford de Pasadena en California … all over el mundo people are finding that they can usar mucho más español when they allow themselves to usar inglés to fill the gaps. I have found myself saying “gracias” more than ever (gratitude is very good for el bienestar which means wellbeing, and the people who have come my way through 100 Days of Spanish have given me han dado mucho por lo que estar agradecida).

Obviamente, the 100 Days proyecto es completo ya. También completo is the Daily Word Builder proyecto, una serie de 182 videos cortos para explorar el vocabulario, en Spanglish that you can understand, claro. ¿He mencionado que soy persistente? En mi opinión la persistencia es importante to learn un lenguaje, and I want to give people the best start en sus estudios. I think that being able to usar el español that you have learned in any contexto, regardless of whether you know how to say el mensaje completo, es la manera más natural to learn a new lenguaje. You focus on what you can do, and you practice that. New words accrete to your snowball of knowledge, and you are never stuck.

I hope that the same persistencia will help me to publicize mi mensaje, to promote la idea of using dos lenguajes en el camino de aprender un segundo lenguaje. I hope that la persistencia will give you todos los materiales que necesitas para absorber el español. To hear the same frases enough times for your cerebro to registrarlas, just as you would take on new terms and names from new hobbies, or even from las series de la televisión. Finalmente, I hope that my work with Spanglish to learn Spanish attracts some copycat teaching, porque en mi opinión es un sistema que funciona bien para todos los humanos. Funciona por the brainboxes and the chatterboxes. Spanglish gives you freedom to understand español. Spanglish gives you la libertad de practicar español. Por eso I want you to persist con Spanglish hasta que no lo necesitas, until you can confidently comunicar en español.

You know that Gracias means thank you. Estoy agradecida means I am grateful. Estoy extremadamente agradecida a Pamela Bilalova, la periodista. Estoy agradecida a The Northumberland Gazette por el artículo. Estoy agradecida por todo. También estoy muy contenta that you have tomado el tiempo por reading the other side de la historia. I hope there is much more to come. Watch this espacio!

Ruth is now working to produce online video lessons to accompany the Pasos, Spanish for Beginners course. She is working within guidelines set by the publisher and no copyright is breached. You can access the lessons and learn Spanish from them with or without the Pasos textbook.

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