It Finally Happened

Living, as it were, in a total-immersion language learning situation it finally happened. In the last week I’ve started having dreams in Spanish. I don’t mean that ALL my dreams are in Spanish, but when I have one that’s located here in Panama the dream language is Spanish.

I remember the first time I had a dream in French. It woke me up. It was a “WOW” moment. When you start dreaming in another language you know that it has become a part of your subconscious.


Filed under Boqueron Panama, Living in Panama

2 responses to “It Finally Happened

  1. Andres Espino Dennison

    It has happened to me! My Spanish is far from fluent and more like Chicano Spanish or TexMex… my MX friends say I speak “Spanglish”, but i do dream in it sometimes now. I have traveled a lot and when i dream about a location I have been I hear that language in my dream too. It is a true sign one is over the language hurdle.

    Someone I know emailed me about this story and said that his Mexican girlfriend was dreaming that he was talking to her in perfectly fluent Spanish. I find that hard to believe. Doesn’t compute. If he doesn’t speak Spanish to begin with I can’t imagine him, even in a dream, doing it fluently. All my dreams, like yours, are appropriate to the experience. I would never talk to my friend Robert in English since he doesn’t know any and speaks only French. Same goes with my neighbors here. In a dream or in reality they only speak Spanish, so in order to communicate with them it has to be in Spanish. Of course I’m not fluent when I do it in a dream. How could I be? I’m not fluent in real life. For me, at 70, I doubt that I’ll EVER be fluent in Spanish, nor was I in French. I’m, rather, what I would call “proficient” in the languages, meaning I can communicate in them. I can hold a conversation with people beyond, “Where’s the bathroom?” “Another beer, please,” and “Would you like to dance, Miss?” Proficient is fine for me.

  2. leftclique

    Hello Richard,
    I hope you are well. I haven’t commented lately because we’ve had a lot on our minds; my mother and Sandy’s mother are both very ill. I’m jealous of you and Andres for having dreams in Spanish, because we started taking Spanish lessons last month. Whew! We’re making progress, though, and when we move from the USA, we’re determined to be able to speak to our neighbors and be part of whatever neighborhood we find ourselves in. Have you gotten a dog yet? I recommend a Blue Heeler. You can’t go wrong with a dog that’s smarter, faster and meaner than you are.


    Here’s hoping the moms get better soon.

    Forgive my pedantry, but you’re NOT jealous of me having dreams in Spanish. You’re ENVIOUS. Jealousy is the result or fear of losing someone or something that one is attached to or possesses to another person (the transfer of a lover’s affections in the typical form), while envy is the resentment caused by another person having something that one does not have, but desires for oneself.

    Good for you for starting lessons. I can’t recommend Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish highly enough. It’s absolutely the BEST for learning CONVERSATIONAL Spanish. The unique thing about Madrigal’s method is that is starts with the PAST tense first. When you think about it we generally speak in the past tense. We talk about what we’ve done. Where we’ve lived. What we did for a living, etc. THEN we use the future tense which, while there IS a future tense in Spanish, like English you can simply use the phrase “I am going to (insert infinitive)” which in Spanish is “Yo voy a (infinitive)” works fine. You can get Madrigal through and it’s now also available as a Kindle book.

    But you’re not really going to learn the language until you put yourself into the situation where you have to use it on a daily basis. The hardest part is going to be “hearing” the language. At first it’s going to be little more than noise. As time goes by you’ll start to hear words coming out of all the noise. Also, I recommend avoiding other gringos as much as possible. There’s a real attraction to bunch together. It’s a comfort thing, for sure. But I didn’t come to Panama to hang out with a bunch of gringos.

    Yesterday I met a couple of gringos, husband and wife, at the supermarket and we chatted for a few minutes. I mean it’s not FORBIDDEN. But today I spent a couple of hours with the sister of one of my neighbors. She was very good about speaking slowly and distinctly. I don’t mean slowly like “c o m o e s t a?” But in a bit slower than normal conversational speed. Panamanians speak VERY rapidly and they know it, too. We spent nearly three hours covering a wide range of topic…where I’m from and where I’ve lived. What she did for a living (retire lawyer), our mutual dislike of the gringos in Boquete who don’t speak Spanish and make no effort to learn it, food, (here in Panama the national cuisine boils down to beans, rice and chicken soup ) Cajun cuisine. Things I like about Panama (the people, the fact that when you get on the bus and say “buenos dias” everybody answers you) things I don’t like about Panama (that they treat the country like a trash can and how it took a whole generation to change that in the States though it’s a never-ending challenge). I have to admit, though, that at the end of three hours my brain was ready to explode. But I love the fact that I’m able to spend three hours talking to someone in Spanish because they don’t speak English. Laughing together. So, when you finally make the break try and find a nice barrio like where I live and TALK TO THE PEOPLE and don’t worry about making a fool of yourself. Over time that will change.

    No dog. I’m not sure I want one right now and trying to find a blue heeler would be a REAL challenge here. Besides that, I’m a BIG advocate of adopting abandoned dogs. Pound puppies, if you will. My last two were rescue dogs. Right now I’m feeding one stray. She’s VERY leery but will approach me and take a bone from my fingers, but she does it with her tail between her legs. But she’s starting to get better and come close when I whistle to her.

    Well, that’s it for now. Take care of your self and the moms.