For years since my Spanish has been decent I have struggled to label myself as bilingual. Regardless of how good I sound to an English speaker,I still have conversations with Spanish speakers where I leave saying, "If I didn't understand what I think I understood, we could be in trouble."
But three weeks ago I took a test and was hired for a job which has bilingual right in the title. And suddenly, regardless of any hesitations or doubts I might have, I have been thrown into the world of required fluency. Kids in classrooms are calling each other names in Spanish that I have to catch, I am expected to listen to English words and write them down in Spanish, and tonight I interpreted for parent/teacher conferences. These experiences have been blowing my mind!
Language is a powerful thing! There is a reason that God gave us language confusion (and also linguistic beauty) when our heads were getting big at the tower of Babble. Speaking a second language is like having a bridge where there used to be only a gorge. I love that my language bridge, which used to be safe for personal use only (you've gotta stick with the analogy here), is now substantial enough that others-- students, parents, and teachers-- can be supported by it when they need to get information across.
Tonight I responded to an emergency interpreter call to a classroom, and when I arrived, the teacher had been trying for ten minutes to get a message across to a parent with the few Spanish words she knew. The parent was giving her blank stares. I walked in and sat down, and suddenly the conference flowed. I was astonished. I am so glad that I studied this phenomenon of sounds, words, and ideas, but not only parent/teacher conference purposes. There is beauty in the fact that God allows language bridges to be the route of transportation for the delivery of His word to every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Picture from here