Why This Politician Was Scared to Order an Ice Cream

The man was a powerful politician. He might not like to be identified…so I’ll call him John.

He came to visit me in San Miguel de Allende, the beautiful Mexican town where I have lived for 25 years, teaching Spanish to people of all ages.

John was working on his Spanish through my online program and had learned the basics. Now, he wanted to improve his command of the language, in the field…so to speak. But, in spite of his many successes over the years, this high achiever confided in me that he was nervous about taking what he had learned into the real world.

He asked me to come for a walk with him so he could practice his newfound skills.

“Sure,” I said. “There’s an ice-cream store down the street. Let’s go get an ice-cream cone.”

In front of that ice-cream store I gave him the basic vocabulary for flavors of ice cream and how to say “cone.” Then I left him off on his own. As John entered the store he looked back at me like a little boy wanting the support of his mother.

The door closed.

He was in there for the longest time and I was becoming concerned that he might be having problems. Suddenly the door opened and out he came… with three scoops of ice cream on the cone, fresa, chocolate, y vainilla.

Not just one but three.

But of course there would be three, I thought, John is a high achiever.

His face had a huge smile and his other hand was giving me a peace sign. That powerful man looked like a six-year-old boy who had just got his first ice-cream cone.

He was thrilled with himself. In his mind he had succeeded and broken through a very challenging barrier. He did speak Spanish.

I am always fascinated by the people who want to learn Spanish. Almost all of my students are 60 years or older and have succeeded in life.

That said, when they approach learning a foreign language they begin as a child and their entire history is usually put behind them. Certainly learning a new language levels the playing field for everyone.

It doesn’t make any difference who you were…the governor of the state…the head of a major corporation…or a retired schoolteacher. Everybody starts with uno…dos…tres.

Take the language one word at a time. No matter who you are or what your history is, you can learn the fundamental skills to function in the Spanish language.

So let’s start at the beginning…you want to know how to be courteous…you want to greet people…and you want to request the things that you need. All of these are fundamental skills in any culture.

Fortunately it doesn’t take a lot of Spanish to be able to do these things.

The thrill of the chase is going in for your ice-cream cone and walking out with just what you wanted.

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