So you decided to learn Spanish, or perhaps to uncover some tips how to improve it. So why are you here, who am I and how can I help?
My name is Rick, Rick Quatraro (Italian last name, not Spanish), I live in Orlando, Florida, and I am not a Spanish teacher, but I speak fluent Spanish with almost no “gringo” accent at all. I’ve received hundreds of compliments over the years for how well I speak the language and have routinely confused native speakers that I am indeed NOT Latin American, rather an American from the US with no Latin roots at all, and I C-A-N help you learn more Spanish. I can help because I have been there, right where you are now, frustrated with no idea how or where to start, but still taught myself from scratch WAY before Rosetta Stone and with very few classes.
I have been speaking Spanish for about 20 years, give or take. My journey started way back during my first class in junior high school in Copley, Ohio, just outside of Akron, Ohio- yes Lebron James’ hometown (if you like basketball), just a couple years before he came around, alright, maybe a few more than that. Back then I didn’t care at all about learning Spanish, in fact, I hated it. I didn’t do well on tests and never learned much ever in class through the other courses in high school. And so naturally I retained very little. Sound familiar? I mean why would I need to speak it? I lived in Northeast Ohio! Who speaks Spanish in Northeast Ohio besides the shortstop (baseball) of the Indians? Like next to nobody, that’s who, at least where I lived. I didn’t need it, I didn’t want it.
So how did I learn? It’s the number one question I had to answer and it’s the number one question you have to answer. Your answer will be the difference between learning your basic “uno, dos, tres” and “¿Dónde está el baño?”and learning how to have full conversations and perhaps living and working in another country like I did.
So why did I want to learn?
During my Disney “College Program” I met many people from different cultures and was fascinated. It was exciting and I just had to learn more about them. There were many cultures of people who both visited and worked in the parks, but in the end I fell in love with the Latin culture. I just couldn’t stand that I didn’t understand what they were saying when they spoke amongst each other. I really hated when I had to find other Cast Members (Disney employees) from Puerto Rico or another Spanish-speaking country to help a Guest from Colombia or Venezuela because I couldn’t understand them.
I was dying to learn, but had no idea where to begin so I grabbed whatever resources I could, a Spanish-English dictionary, grammar book, workbook and verb book. I studied at home and practiced at work. At first I couldn’t put many sentences together, but the list of words I learned grew into a bigger list and the words eventually became small sentences then sentences grew into small conversations, small conversations became bigger conversations over time. After a while I didn’t need to carry a dictionary with me. I was passionate about learning and that passion was the energy that kept me going. It was a rocky road many times, things just didn’t make sense and the sentences were slow at first. It was easy to get lost when trying to understand someone, especially in a group setting. I realized at some point that I couldn’t beat myself up when I didn’t learn as fast as I wanted too, but being too hard on myself would never allow me to move forward to learn more. I can honestly tell you now I am satisfied with where I am with the language, no, it’s not as good as my English, but it is very good and I realize that many people would love to know what I know. And that’s why I am here to help. I will provide more details about my story and journey in future posts, including my time living in Venezuela, how I help people using my Spanish at work in Disney and all the interesting stories in between. But you see without that passion and strong desire to learn I wouldn’t have learned what I know today, just some of the basics, nothing more.
WHY do you want to learn?
Think about your answer. Think about what has held you back or challenged you and write to me in the contact form below. And please return as I add posts.
Let’s do this journey together.
Yes, you can learn, even with little free time, I promise you. My tips will help you speak today, maybe not fluently, but you will be able to put what you learn to work right away.
Chao hablamos lueguito y te espero aquí.
Tu pana (amigo),