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  • Judy Schulten

12. Ask permission to practice with native speakers.

Updated: Jan 25, 2020

This takes some courage. Do it on a day when everything is going well and you feel tough. A day when your hair looks good. Maybe you’re waiting in a long line by someone speaking

Spanish. Say, “May I practice my Spanish with you, please?” You will probably exchange only a sentence or two, but it’s a good way to get past the barrier in your own head that says, “You’re no good. She doesn’t want to talk to you.”

Nine times out of ten when you do this the Spanish-speaker will praise your Spanish warmly and excessively. It’s just the way they are. And you’ll feel good.

Meet our daughter Sara.

On a Tokyo train platform, she was approached by an earnest young man who bowed and said, “Please. May I practice my English with you?” “Delighted,” said Sara. He fumbled in his pocket, produced a blue Bic, and said, “This is a pen.” Since that was the extent of his English, he thanked her, bowed again, and moved down the platform. That’s what I’m talking about.

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