Sunday, January 29, 2017

Embarrassed talking in front of native speakers? Knock, knock!

I have already written about my feelings when speaking to my son in English in front of native speakers. As I imagined, there would be more situations where I would find myself with English speakers for various reasons. Well, I haven't had to wait a long time for a new moment to come.
The other day on the bus, the couple sitting behind were Americans. I was carrying my little one in the baby carrier so he was looking at them all the time. I am sure he started smiling and trying to play with them, so this couple started to say nice things to him in English. I turned around and they told me that he was very cute and they asked me how old he was, what his name was..., typical things, but in English. Besides, my little boy had an eye pretty infected with eye boogers on it and I heard them talking about that. I understood them because I had learnt that word some days ago, as I had to look it up on the dictionary. So we were also talking a little about that. They were very nice. Then, my son started knocking on the bus window. It was fun so I wanted to chat with him, but again, I was embarrassed. (Yes, I know, I have to get over it, but I still feel a bit insecure in front of native people). Nevertheless, I spoke softly and I told him that it was very cold, that he shouldn't knock too hard or the glass would break... Each time he would hit the window, I wanted to say what in Spanish would be: ¡toma! ¡toma! But I did not know how to say that in English. I said to myself: I have to get rid of the shame and fear of what natives think, right now! So I turned around and asked the American couple in English: Sorry, when a child is doing this, what do you say? And they answered me very kindly that they would say: knock, knock! In addition to solving my doubt, they continued talking to my baby saying things to him and making him laugh.

Why did I ask them that question? I am worried that they could feel like a 'dictionary with legs'. It was not my intention at all to take advantage and learn or practice English. I was just angry with myself for not being stronger and not speaking with my son normally whenever native English speakers are around. So when I had that doubt of vocabulary... I thought that, instead of being embarrassed and talking in a low voice, I could turn that moment into something positive, reaffirm myself, learn from their English knowledge and speak to my son a little bit better.

I guess my problem of insecurity is not solved yet, but I feel that I am working on it and that these small situations with such nice people help me to enjoy chatting and playing with my child even when there are English speakers around.

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