I stil have a long way to go in learning Spanish, but the day after I arrived in Costa Rica my son had a Spanish teacher waiting to give my wife and I some lessons. I studied French in school so I had to start from scratch, learning how to pronounce the alphabet. After a few weeks our teacher gave us fifty verbs to learn, and we learned how to conjugate them in the present tense. I still remember the feeling of power I had with my fifty verbs. I set out talking to everyone I could about whatever topic would fit into my fifty verbs. Sometimes I would talk about the oddest subjects because I wanted to use one of my verbs. I would turn a sentence on its ear until I found a way to say it with my fifty verbs.
All I can say is that I have some pretty patient friends who put up with my broken Spanish and ridiculous subjects of converstaion. Three years later I still have a long way to go in learning Spanish. My greatest strength is my ability not to get embarrassed. I do not mind corrections or people commenting, "Do you know what you just said?" Now I can have simple conversations - in the present tense. And I owe it all to my patient friends who quietly listened to me for three years.