If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, 1) yikes and 2) you’re probably familiar with seeing “Latino/a,” which is clunkily condensed as “Latin@.” It’s been around for a while and is, ostensibly, a way to streamline the label, while applying to both men and women.
More and more, you might have noticed a new option popping up online: Latinx.
So, how is Latinx different from Latin@, exactly?
For one, it’s easier and faster to type out, which is kind of nice for the lazily-inclined among us. It’s also a term that allows for intersectionality and includes identities beyond a gender binary. It is, in a word, inclusive.
The term, though relatively new, has already inspired its share of controversy and debate. The site Latino Rebels, for instance, featured arguments both in favor of and against the term, taking into account factors like the history and implications of the term “Latino,” the term’s ties (or lack thereof) to the Spanish language, and the idea of subverting or reclaiming existing terms rather than creating new news.
Credit: Alex Alvarez / mitú
For example, in their argument for the use of Latinx, professors María R. Scharréon-Del Río and Alan A. Aja write that opposing “Latinx” on the grounds that it isn’t in Spanish shows a narrow view of what it really means, historically and right now, to belong to this particular group:
Are we not aware that upon the arrival of the conquistadores and subsequent acts of genocide, a few thousand indigenous languages existed in the Americas, and a few resilient hundred continue to be spoken today? Not to mention the attempted erasure of African languages via the violence of slavery and colonialism.
Moreover, indigenous languages in Latin America (and throughout the world) range from the genderless to the multigendered, going beyond the binary. This is another instance in which Guerra and Orbea, while claiming to denounce imperialism, actually fall into one of the markers of colonization: the erasure of indigenous history and its cultural legacy.
As for an argument against adopting the term, Latino Rebels deputy editor Hector Luis Alamo writes that, among other factors, the label doesn’t actually ensure that its adopters do the work needed to address issues surrounding intersectionality and gender and, besides, words and their meanings aren’t necessarily immutable:
For those hung up on the -o, I suggest they worry less about the history of Latino and discover its present meaning. Language isn’t dead, after all, but living. Definitions continue to transform all the time, all around us. The word no longer applies strictly to male Latinos but all Latinos, just as the “men” in “all men are created equal” now means all people. The word queer, for example, literally means “odd” or “worthless,” a fact which doesn’t keep millions in the LGBT community from donning the term proudly. The word Latino, once a fork, has evolved into a spork, and so there’s no reason to invent an all-purpose substitute.
Elliot Page, the Oscar-nominated star of films such as Juno and X-Men: Days of Future Past, shared with fans that they identify as transgender and non-binary at the beginning of the month.
“Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they, and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self. I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community,” Page wrote in their statement.
In a moving statement shared to the star’s social media feeds, Page explained how the trans community had “inspired” and supported them in the lead up to their decision to share the news with the world. They went onto thank the trans community for “ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.”
Elliot Page expressed their gratitude for the support of friends and fans after recently coming out as non-binary and transgender.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Your love and support has been the greatest gift,” Page wrote in a post on Sunday. “Stay safe. Be there for each other. If you are able, support @transanta and @translifeline See you in 2021, Xoxo Elliot”
In issuing their announcement on December 1st, Page also made an effort to underline their privileges in comparison to the trans Black and Latinx people murdered this year.
Speaking about their transgender and non-binary identity, the latter of which is a term used to describe a person whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, Page wrote “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life… I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.”
Page went onto emphasize “To be clear, I am not trying to dampen a moment that is joyous and one that I celebrate, but I want to address the full picture. The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences. In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx women.”
Page’s highlight of the fatal violence against Black and Latinx trans people in 2020 is such an important step.
This year, the Human Rights Campaign noted that 2020 saw at least 40 trans or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed. The majority of these victims were Black and Latinx transgender women.
Page also condemned politicians who have rejected the rights and humanity of trans people and criminalized trans health care. “You have blood on your hands,” Page wrote. “You unleash a fury of vile and demeaning rage that lands on the shoulders of the trans community.”
Page went onto share his efforts to fight for the trans community continues “To all the trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better.”
Page stated that their pronouns are “he” and “they.”
HRC listed the transgender and gender non-conforming people lost in 2020. The victims are listed directly from HRC’s site below.
Dustin Parker, 25, was fatally shot in McAlester, Oklahoma, early on New Year’s Day. His employers released a statement shortly after his death, remembering Parker as “a steadfast friend, an amazing husband and father and generous to a fault. He loved fiercely, worked tirelessly and took on life with so much hope and enthusiasm that his presence brightened all of our lives.”
Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, was killed in Moca, Puerto Rico, on March 5. Arocho, a transgender man, shared his love for basketball and the NBA — donning Miami Heat apparel on social media. The biography line on his Facebook reads simply, “Humility Prevails.”
Scott/ Scottlynn Devore, a 51-year old gender non-conforming person, was killed in Augusta, Georgia. Friends remembered Devore as “sweet” and “beautiful” on Facebook.
Monika Diamond, 34, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 18. Diamond was active in the Charlotte LGBTQ and nightlife community and was the co-owner of an event promotion company. She also was the co-CEO of the International Mother of the Year Pageantry System — a pageant that honors LGBTQ mothers.
Lexi, 33, a transgender woman, was killed in Harlem, New York on March 28. According to reports, Lexi was fatally stabbed in Harlem River Park. “I really looked up to her because of her tolerance and respect,” said Lavonia Brooks, a friend of Lexi. “Lexi had a beautiful heart, she was very gifted.” Brooks also noted that Lexi loved poetry, makeup and fashion.
Johanna Metzger, a transgender woman, was killed in Baltimore, Maryland on April 11. According to reports, she was visiting a Baltimore recovery center from Pennsylvania at the time. Johanna was known for her love of music and taught herself to play multiple instruments.
Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 21. Ramos was killed alongside Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21. According to reports, Ramos was visiting the island on vacation, and was set to return to her home in Queens, New York, at the end of the month. Loved ones are mourning her death, calling her “full of life,” a “happy person,” and a “sincere friend.” On May 1, two men were charged under federal hate crimes law for Ramos’s death.
Penélope Díaz Ramírez, a transgender woman, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 13. “Penélope did not deserve to die. Transgender people do not deserve to die. Every single advocate, ally, elected official and community member must stand up in light of this horrific news and say ‘No more.’ What we are doing is not enough,” said Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
Nina Pop, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Sikeston, Missouri, on May 3. She was deeply loved by her family, friends and community, according to her Facebook page.
Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, a transgender woman, was killed in San Antonio, Texas, on May 6. O’Regan was proud of her trans identity and on Twitter, she often spoke out against injustice, including the LGBTQ inequality, the prison industrial complex and the need to decriminalize sex work. Damion Terrell Campbell, 42, has been charged with O’Regan’s murder.
Tony McDade, a Black transgender man, was killed in Tallhassee, Florida, on May 27. His friends and family shared how he was an energetic, giving person with a big heart.
Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a Black transgender woman was killed in Philadelphia, Pennsyania, on June 9. One personal friend posted online, “Dom was a unique and beautiful soul who I am lucky to have known personally. I am beside myself right now. We need to fight!! We need to do more!!!! We will get justice.”
Riah Milton, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Liberty Township, Ohio on June 9. In March, she posted the status “Never been scared to struggle. Imma get it eventually” — a comment highlighting her resilience and optimism as a person facing a transphobic, misogynist and racist society.
Jayne Thompson, a 33-year old white transgender woman, was killed in Mesa County, Colorado, on May 9. She was killed by a Colorado State Patrol trooper and misgendered in initial news reports.
Selena Reyes-Hernandez, a 37-year old transgender woman, was killed in Chicago on May 31. “We have lost a beloved member of our trans family because of hate — hate that has corrupted our country’s soul and that shatters lives and futures every day,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
Brian “Egypt’ Powers, a 43-year old Black transgender person, was killed in Akron, Ohio, on June 13. Powers worked at a local catering company and is remembered for wearing long, colorful braids — “unicorn braids,” as Powers called them.
Brayla Stone, a 17-year old Black transgender girl, was found killed in Little Rock, Arkansas, on June 25. “Brayla Stone was a child. A child, just beginning to live her life. A child of trans experience. A Black girl. A person who had hopes and dreams, plans and community,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. On September 4, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.
Merci Mack, a 22-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Dallas, Texas, on June 30. Her loved ones shared how beautiful of a friend she was. On her social media, she had recently posted that she enjoyed baking and that she was looking forward to returning to work. On July 8, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.
Shaki Peters, a 32-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Amite CIty, Louisiana, on July 1. “In just four days, we have seen the deaths of at least three transgender and gender non-conforming people, including Shaki Peters. This horrific spike in violence against our community must be an urgent call to action for every single person in this nation,” said Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Trans Justice Initiative.
Bree Black, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Pompano Beach, Florida, on July 3. “These killings are being fueled by the deadly combination of racism and transphobia, and they must cease. We must come together as a community and demand justice for those who were taken from us,” said Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Trans Justice Initiative.
Summer Taylor, a white non-binary person, was in Seattle, Washington, on July 4. Taylor was participating in the Black Femme March in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. Taylor worked full time at Urban Animal veterinary hospital.
Marilyn Cazares was a transgender Latina killed in Brawley, California. Mindy Garcia, an aunt of Cazares, said she “loved to sing and dance” and “never bothered anyone.”
Dior H Ova, who some reports identify as Tiffany Harris, a Black transgender woman, was killed in the Bronx, New York. According to her Facebook, Ova loved fashion — listing her career as a personal shopper and posting photos with luxury fashion brands that she loved. On August 13, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.
Queasha D Hardy, a 22-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 27. Hardy, a hairstylist, was extremely loved by her community. Friends and loved ones describe her as loyal, loving, “always smiling,” “the life of all parties” and “truly one of a kind.”
Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, who sometimes used the name Rocky Rhone, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Portland, Oregon, on July 28. According to Facebook, she studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and was the owner and founder of International Barbie, a Portland-based clothing brand.
Lea Rayshon Daye, a 28-year old Black transgender woman, died in Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland, Ohio on August 30. “Lea’s death is unacceptable. Increased risk factors such as homelessness, combined with racism, sexism and transphobia, conspired to lead to a death that never should have happened,” said Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
Kee Sam, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Lafeyette, Louisiana, on August 12. “We must all speak up in support of trans and gender non-conforming people and affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter,” said HRC’s Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
Aerrion Burnett, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Indepedence, Missouri, on September 19. Her friends and family shared “if you wanted to have a good day, you need to smile, Aerrion was the person you wanted by your side.”
Mia Green, a 29-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Philadelphia on September 28. Her friends and family shared how “her smile was so perfect and so contagious. She made me laugh.”
Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, a transgender woman from Puerto Rico in her mid-30s, was killed in San Germán, Puerto Rico on September 30. “This level of violence— any level of violence — is unacceptable. We are not doing enough to protect transgender and gender non-conforming people, especially trans women,” said HRC’s Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
Felycya Harris, a 33-year old transgender woman, was killed in Augusta, Georgia in October. Felycya was an interior decorator who ran her own company where she enjoyed lending her eye to improve the surroundings of others, and made others feel comfortable in their own space.
Brooklyn Deshuna, 20, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Shreveport, Louisiana, on October 7. Brooklyn attended Bossier Parish Community College and studied cosmetology.
Sara Blackwood, a transgender woman, was killed in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 11, recognized as National Coming Out Day. She enjoyed playing video games and was a fan of the show “My Little Pony.”
Angel Unique, a 25-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 25. A licensed cosmetologist, friends and family of Angel remembered her for being “very funny, very nice to everybody she met” and “such a bright person [with] a positive spirit.”
Skylar Heath, a 20-year-old Black trans woman killed on Nov. 4 in Miami, Fl., was described as a “kind and gentle soul” who “had such a love for family and close friends.” Skylar had a “warm personality” and a “friendly spirit,” and brought people who knew her “so much joy.”
Yunieski Carey Herrera, also known as Yuni Carey, a 39-year old Latina transgender woman was killed in Miami, Fl. on Nov. 17. Herrera was a well-known model, performer, dancer and activist loved by the LGBTQ community in Miami. A friend of Herrera described her as “besides being strikingly beautiful, she was kind and she was good.”
Asia Jynae Foster, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed on November 20 in Houston, Texas. Her death occurred on Trans Day of Remembrance, a day created to honor those in our community taken by violence. Asia was remembered during a candlelight vigil where family and friends described her as “a beacon of light in their community.”
Chae’Meshia Simms, a Black transgender woman in her 30s, was killed on Nov. 23 in Richmond, Virginia. Simms, who sometimes used the nickname “ChaeChae,” was close with her family and friends. They remembered her on social media as “good,” “kind” and “caring.”
In 2017, a Pew Research Center study revealed that while there has neen an increase in the numberof Latino Spanish speakers at home, the overall number of Latinos who speak Spanish has declined significantly in the past decade. Ultimately, the finding revealed that while the Latino population continues to grow significantly a smaller percentage of Latinos actually speak Spanish.
For many of us, particularly those of us Latinos who don’t speak Spanish, these findings cause us to carry quite a bit of guilt. After all growing up, many of us were told that understanding the language of our abuelos and padres was vital.
For Latinos that have heard the words “¿No habla español?” and felt terrible, the blow Reddit conversation is for you.
“First of all: You’re not any less Latina for not knowing Spanish. There are plenty of Asian-Americans who don’t know their parents language, European-Americans and so on. It’s your culture and your identity and no one can tell you what you are and what you aren’t based on not knowing a certain language.
Secondly, as others have said, you’re in an excellent spot if you want to learn Spanish since you have so many native speakers at your disposal. I’d say use the resources from this sub to self teach yourself, and when you get to a certain level, tell your friends and family what you want to achieve and see how they respond. I’m sure most of them would love to practice with you and help you learn, and worst case scenario if they don’t want to, you can keep self teaching and just respond to them in Spanish at times anyway. I’ve lived abroad for a bit and will-power is a main component of language learning: when people try to speak English to me I don’t fall to the pressure and reply the best I can in Spanish. Not exactly a direct equivalent, but my advice. Buena suerte con su aprendizaje.” – Maxmutinium
“I have a buddy who is half Mexican. He even got a scholarship for it. He can’t even speak to his own grandmother because he doesn’t speak Spanish and she doesn’t speak English.” –MyParentsAre_Cousins
“Does anyone else who is Latinx and does not know Spanish feel this way?
Yeah. Oh yeah. Bilingual parents but it was always English in the home and even with high school and college classes I never quote got it. I’ve been told to my face that I’m not a real Puerto Rican because of it. I am very much one, but I feel very distanced from my own people because of it, from the language barrier, to the exclusion, to the culture difference with not being around Spanish speakers, to being bitter about the whole thing.
Are you trying to learn? If so, what’s working best for you to learn it?
Yes, but I don’t tell people because they’ll start saying stuff I don’t understand or make a fuss over it. I prefer learning on my own terms. Duolingo has been my choice and it’s helped a lot. I feel like I’m starting to be able to think in Spanish which from what I know is a big step towards fluency.” –jclocks
“I’m in the same boat in a lot of ways. My parents didn’t speak much Spanish to me as a child and I only learned a sprinkling of words. In high school I hated spanish class because it made me feel inadequate. At family events I felt like an outsider when people switched to Spanish. I also was really frustrated when people asked me why I didn’t speak it since the assumption was that I had somehow chosen not to learn.
Two years ago I decided to commit to learning it. I went to Ecuador and spent 6 weeks taking one-on-one classes and living with a host family. Afterwards I could have broken conversations, but more importantly I was able to get past my fear of speaking in front of other Latinos. I don’t have the opportunity to do another immersion trip again in the near future, so this year I decided to really invest serious time into learning on my own. I do 5 hours of conversation a week with iTalki; I listen to Glossika on my commute to and from work; I do Anki flashcards every morning and I read Spanish articles using LingQ. I shoot for 2 hours minimum of active practice a day and I supplement that with listening to music in Spanish and Spanish podcasts. Even when I watch stuff in English on Netflix I put on Spanish subtitles to gain a little more exposure.
It’s working. I don’t consider myself fluent yet, but that’s only because my goals have become more ambitious (I want to have native-like proficiency). I’ve put about 500-600 hours worth of study in since I started and I can have conversations and listen to Ted Talks in Spanish. It feels great and I’ve learned a lot about my culture and other Latin cultures as a result.
If you’re willing to put the time in (many experts think it takes more than a 1,000 hours to hit a very high level of proficiency) you can do it too. But you really have to create clear goals and habits built around your learning. Last year I was stagnant and it’s because I didn’t have goals and habits to really develop my fluency. And while an immersion trip with classes can really jumpstart the learning process you don’t need it to become fluent so long as you plug in hour after hour into active exposure and study. Also, if you had exposure to spanish as a baby, you probably have an advantage. There’s studies linking exposure to a language in the early months to a lifelong capacity to make out the sounds of that language better than people who weren’t exposed to it as children. That really helps when it comes to listening and to developing an accent. A lot of my tutors tell me I don’t have the gringo accent, which is also really encouraging.” –eatmoreicecream
“I feel like shit that I grew up with Puerto Rican family, and Spanish speaking ALL around me and still don’t speak it at 28. I also had bilingual childhood friends. The environment was PERFECT for me to grow up fluent in two languages.
Yet here I am close to 30 and I can’t speak shit. I keep telling myself I want to learn but now I feel bummed out that I’m aging past being able to sound “native” anymore.
Double this is my father was disappointed I didn’t know not too long before he died and I feel like all the people who assume I’m fluent in Spanish when they approach is him nudging me on and still nagging for me to learn lol. There’s a definite guilt and “I’m ignoring an entire part of my awesome upbringing” thing going on.
Edit: Missed too many words in the first one that made it sound like I felt like shit about growing up in the environment instead of about not learning Spanish lol. Edit edit: One of my worst regrets is from elementary school, where a teacher asked us what a really simple word in Spanish meant. I knew it of course, but I stayed quiet for whatever dumb reason. Pretty sure that was to test the potential to learn before teaching us the language another missed opportunity to plant the seeds in my young mind. HINDSIGHT IS 20/20 DAMNIT.” –IniMiney
“Forget about sounding native, that’s only something that’s in your mind. You’re never too old to learn a language! I picked up Russian two years ago almost and I’m 35!”- Effervescent_513
“Don’t feel bad, it’s not true that you’ll need sound native. You have to dedicate yourself to training your ear to hearing exactly the sounds, and teaching your speech organ to produce some the new sounds. I really recommend Mimic Method for this. I’ve not even finished the Spanish course and I was confusing Spanish Speakers on holiday because whilst I looked and was foreign what little I knew was pronounced well (sorry, I am widening my doorframes.” –Brutussaid
“I’ve been called white washed and Gabacha (sp?) Because I don’t speak Spanish but have been surrounded by it my whole life. I even married and had a kid with a Latino, and his whole family speaks Spanish too! The only ones in my family that don’t know are me, my brother and sister. It’s so hard. I know a little, but not enough to hold a casual conversation. Everyone is too fast. Plus we’re friends with a lot of Salvadorians and that’s even harder to understand! There’s no way my kid is going to grow up without knowing 2 languages at least. I feel so alienated, some of my in laws’ friends think I’m either quiet or mean because I can’t even understand half of what they’re saying. I have to have someone actively translate for me just to be included in everything.” –MoistCreamPuffs
“I 100% relate to you. I hope to one day marry a Latino that knows Spanish so that way my kid will grow up with learning the language and maybe my future husband can help me too. I too feel alienated when I’m constantly surrounded by Spanish speakers and I barely understand what they’re saying, but with that being said I think both you and I have a great advantage to learn the language because we know so many Spanish speakers. With the help of redditor’s advice, I’m more than confident that it isn’t too late for us to learn! We got this girl!” –lrvxoxo
“Being Latina and not knowing spanish is one of the worst things ever… like I literally feel like a disgrace to my heritage.
Spanish is the language of the conquistadors. It is not the languages of the natives in most of the lands that the language dominates.
Try not to be too hard on yourself.
It will take time, but you can learn. It’s never too late to start! There are many, many free and low cost resources. ¡Buena suerte!” –confusedchild02
“Spanish is the language of the conquistadors. It is not the languages of the natives in most of the lands that the language dominates.
The “conquistadors” are our ancestors too! It depends on the location too but Latin America unlike other parts of the world is a mixture from Spanish and the indigenous population in a bigger or smaller proportion. In other words it’s not like Spanish is a foreign language like French is in Africa and English is in India, it’s part of our culture as well and if you don’t speak it you do miss out a huge part of the culture.” –ffuentes
“Being Latina means she could be either 100% or 0% descended from indigenous people.
Though it’s irrelevant because the vast majority of modern Latin Americans have been speaking Spanish (or Portuguese) for generations, and very few identify with anything other than their nationality.” –Enmerkahr
“My ex was Mexican but didn’t speak Spanish. I studied it in school as a second language. He was no where near as good as me, but he had a really good foundation that I didn’t.
Something I struggle with as a non native speaker is that there are just so many words. If you remain consistent and study vocabulary, you’ll know a lot. But there are just so many things you don’t know because you have no reason to know.
Native speakers don’t really have that disadvantage. They’ve heard just about everything at some point even if they can’t recall it off of the top of their heads.
I’m willing to bet that if you started studying in a classroom setting, you’d be fluent in no time.” –TheMeanGirl
“You situation is favorable over mine as a white guy, I know very few native Spanish speakers, much less that are willing to help me practice on a regular basis. Yo que tu, I would ask my parents to converse with me in Spanish as much as possible and you’ll learn super fast that way.” –TesticlesMcTitties
“I’ve told my parents to help me learn that way in the past & my parents will speak to me in Spanish for like an hour and then stop till the next time I ask, so it’s annoying constantly reminding them to talk to me in Spanish. But I’ll definitely push for it more because I’m sure if they were consistent, I would probably learn super fast as you said.” –lrvxoxo
“Even if you are not fluent, based on your surroundings can you pick up phrases? You might have heard many phrases and understand it but not explain it like a teacher. If this is the case, think of it like filling in the gaps. Never too late to learn.” –MisterE2k14
“I think phrases are the easiest to learn and I think that’s what I know most of, but then again like I said what I do know is very minimal. Thank you for the tip about filling in the gaps, I appreciate it!”- lrvxoxo
“I speak Spanish but not the languages of my grandparents and great-grandparents. I also always thought I was terrible as languages as a kid. Don’t sweat it! There are loads of resources you can download, perhaps more than for many other language. Also you have the advantage that people outside of your family you meet will presume you speak it, so just act like you do – I did. You definitely shouldn’t take this to heart or feel bad about it, but it can definitely act as a motivation. Learn a few stock phrases and just nod, search out group conversations where you don’t need to talk much, watch films and listen to music or podcasts about topics that interest you. Don’t stress about not catching everything; even if you’re a native speaker, you won’t get everything. If there are folks in your city (or extended family, friends) that are native Spanish speakers and struggling, try to spend time teaching them English. Also try to find native English learners of Spanish – you’ll be less nervous speaking to them. Things like Memrise, Lingvist, Clozemaster, Babadum are all great because they’re more active, since sometimes it’s difficult to pick stuff up if you’re only learning stuff passively.” –metalaffect
“In the same exact spot as you. Everyone in my entire extended family knows Spanish except for me and my brothers. It’s easily the thing I hate most about myself. And I feel like I barely have a close connection to most of my family because they have to communicate with me in their non native language and it’s hard to become close that way.
Once I finish my schooling which will actually be in a couple weeks, I plan to go hardcore with my Spanish learning. I have native speakers right at home in my parents so I hope that the process can go relatively smoothly and quickly.” –MrProfessor
“I’m Latino. My aunts, uncles all speak Spanish. My grandparents spoke Spanish. My mom spoke Spanish. But not me. I only knew a little bit from growing up around it but over the past year and a half I finally buckled down and started learning for real. I’m 46. I’m very proud of being Latino. My goal of learning Spanish has more to do with just being more open to non-US culture as well as just wanting to be able to converse in a language my family knows so well.
Oh, and of course I was called a ‘coconut’ by other Latino kids growing up – brown on the outside, white on the inside. But, hey, being Latino makes you thick skinned anyway, so I’m not worried about that. I’m not going to stop with Spanish.
I now fall into the category of ‘I can read it really well, but only pick up about 50% of what is spoken’. I don’t think I’m any less Latino because I never learned Spanish before, I do wish I’d learned before my grandmother passed. She did not speak much English and was fiercely proud of being Latina.
What worked for me was basically immersion, Duolingo, YouTube and Pimsluer, and not thinking I could learn in a month. You didn’t learn English in a month, and additionally, you learned by hearing first, which is kind of the opposite of how people try to learn a second language. You will almost immediately remember words or phrases that Spanish speaking people tell you/correct you on, but it’s a lot harder to just learn words and phrases on your own.
For me, I also discovered that working daily, often really devoting time to it, is best reinforced by not working as hard for a bit. It seems like my brain catches up – suddenly I’ll go back and watch a show on Univision or read a Spanish article and it’s like I can magically read far more than I could before.
Next step for me is a tutor. I’m at the point where I can speak broken Spanish, probably better than my grandmother spoke English. But I, like most people, want fluency.” –silverbax