I am working on my Spanish, one day at a time.
I studied Spanish in high school but to be honest, never put in that extra effort that is need to really learn a language. I studied vocabulary and did well on my tests, but I never attempted to actually use the language.
Most of my life in Lima is still in English. My relationship is in English, I teach English at a language institute and I work in a bilingual private school. It's possible to go through my day speaking minimal Spanish. My children at school speak to me in Spanish and I reply in English. It's my job to reply in English, which is a nice little shield from their overly critical ears.
Last week, one very sweet boy came up to me and asked, "Miss, what time is it?" to which I replied (in English) "It's 8:40." Unsure that he understood correctly, he looked up at me and repeated the time in Spanish, "Ocho y cuarenta?"
"Yes," I said, "ocho y cuarenta."
A huge smile came across his face, he turned to his friends and said through a giggle laced with a slight accent: "Ocho y cuarenta."
The next morning, we were lining up to go to our first activity of the day and this little boy was first in line. His round face looked up at me and he flashed an adorable smile, showing the gap where his two front teeth should be. His face lit up while he said, "Good morning, Miss. Ocho y cuarenta."
It seems that this sweet boy can't remember to take home his lunchbox but he can remember my American accent on "ocho y cuarenta."