Recently I have experienced phenomena of acculturation.
1) I was checking out at the little grocery store around the corner and the cashier asked me, “No tienes la tarjeta del Arbol, verdad?” (You don’t have an El Arbol card, right?) My initial response was that no, I don’t have the card, but then immediately I corrected myself and replied, “Bueno, si, es verdad…no la tengo” (Well, yes, that’s correct…I don’t have one).
2) I was walking to work and was startled (so much that I stopped in my tracks) at how familiar everything had become. It (the moment where I realized I don’t really belong) was a very alien feeling that while fleeting, left a big impression on me. The buildings, the people I passed, everything has become a natural part of my temporary world.
3) Someone stopped me on the street and asked me for directions. Not only was I unable to understand her, but knew where the place was and was able to iterate good directions.
I have begun the process of looking for jobs back in the US. I have been coming across these two language terms and am not sure how to describe myself, or how to project where my level will be when I leave here.
Fluent: able to write or speak easily, smoothly, and expressively
Proficient: highly competent; skilled; adept
I experience moments of fluency (usually when no one I know is around). In my head I am fluent. I am a decently fluent writer. What comes out of my mouth is not the most lyrical. What is proficiency? If proficiency is native-like language, then I will never be proficient. Is it a percent? A level? Is it a composite number or categorized? I need some kind of indicator or descriptor…I am afraid I will mislabel myself and have one of two negative outcomes: 1) I will not be considered for a job and 2) I will get an interview, then be seen as misleading. I feel like I’m at a point where my affective filter is finally down and my language is taking off (I see it happen all the time with students or my own…it’s quite an experience :). I know I will continue towards fluency and proficiency, and hope to continue learning and speaking the language once I return to the US.
I have an upcoming solo trip to Madrid, Toledo, and Segovia at the end of this month. As usual, suggestions are welcome!
***I just wanted to add that we are still true Minnesotans…60 degrees means we have the beach to ourselves!