We have a special treat today! Serena Bell, author of Yours to Keep, dropped by the virtual offices to share her adventures learning Spanish. Be sure to enter Serena’s giveaway, too!
Guest Post – Learning Spanish by Serena Bell
Thank you so much for joining me today at Manga Maniac Café, the latest stop on my Yours to Keep blog tour. I’m thrilled to be here today, talking about how I learned Spanish. Ana, the heroine of Yours to Keep, is a Dominican immigrant, a Spanish speaker by birth. She’s fluent in English, because she moved to the U.S. when she was a little kid, around the same time her parents made the immigration mistake that has resulted in her not having a valid visa. She works as an English-as-a-second-language teacher and a Spanish tutor, which is how she meets Ethan, a widowed pediatrician with a habit of saying everything Ana needs to hear, if not quite all in the right order.
I learned my first tidbits of Spanish in sixth grade, when we were allowed to take a year-long exploration of Spanish, French, and German. I remember coming home thrilled with my Spanish teacher, informing my parents that I was for sure going to take Spanish and that in Spanish you followed up all requests and observations with the phrase “Po Po Po.” It took them a while to figure out what the heck I was talking about, but finally my father, who had taken many years of Spanish, got it. “Oh, you mean ‘por favor’” he said, not unkindly, and then they laughed at me for a while, namely the rest of my life.
That was my introduction to the difficulties of mastering a second language. I took Spanish all through junior high, high school, and college—but never quite reached the point where I could never make myself think in Spanish. I had to laboriously translate everything mentally, and you really can’t master a language until you think in it.
After college I lost all my Spanish. I didn’t pick it up again until I was reporting on English-language learners who were mostly Spanish speakers. I did several interviews with them, and I arranged to spend some time talking on the phone with a Spanish speaker for practice. All the Spanish I’d forgotten came rushing back, which is apparently fairly typical, because the brain stores each language in its own spot, and when you “tap” one of these spots, you remember what you’ve forgotten. Unfortunately, without regular use, access to the spot closes down again. So when I wrote Yours to Keep, I referred liberally to Web sites with Dominican idiom and to Google translate. Still, I don’t think I could have put together what I was seeing without my own knowledge of Spanish.
I also couldn’t have done it without my friend Aimee. She’s Cuban-American, with Dominican family members, and she read the whole book to help make sure I got everything right. She suggested I replace “guero”—which was how Ana originally referred to non-Latino men—with “yanqui,” and caught some other errors that I would have completely missed as a non-native speaker, like the fact that the word “dime”—to say or tell—is pronounced dee-meh, not dee-may.
Do you speak a language other than English? When/where did you learn it, and how well do you remember it? Did you ever study abroad, or do an immersion program?
About the book:
YOURS TO KEEP
A Loveswept Contemporary Romance
Written by Serena Bell
On sale: November 11, 2013
About Yours to Keep
Serena Bell makes her Loveswept debut with the captivating story of a woman living on the edge—and the man who’s destined to love her.
Ana Travares has been looking over her shoulder her whole life. Her U.S. visa expired when she was a young girl, and if her secret is discovered, she’ll be forced to return to the Dominican Republic. Ana allowed herself to get close to someone once before—and after he broke her heart, she swore never to make the same mistake again. But when a handsome doctor asks for her assistance, she fantasizes about breaking all her rules.
Even though pediatrician Ethan Hansen is a natural when it comes to little kids, as the single father of a teenage son he just can’t seem to get it right . . . except for the Spanish tutor he’s hired for his son, Theo. Ana has managed to crack Theo’s shell—and he isn’t the only one taken with her. The sexy tutor has fired up Ethan with a potent mix of lust and protectiveness. But as he starts to envision a future with Ana, Ethan is devastated to learn the truth about her citizenship. Somehow he’s got to find a way to help her—and hold on to the woman he’s falling hopelessly in love with.
About Serena Bell
Serena Bell writes stories about how sex messes with your head, why smart people do stupid things sometimes, and how love can make it all better. She wrote her first steamy romance before she was old enough to understand what all the words meant and has been perfecting the art of hiding pages and screens from curious eyes ever since—a skill that’s particularly useful now that she’s the mother of two school-age children.
Connect with Serena
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