Picture this. The clerk at Blockbuster last night is speaking in Spanish, with two customers, and I'm listening, not just hearing because now I want to understand. I pick out a word or two that I do understand. Yes! I'd say the difference between hearing and listening is like the guy driving on automatic pilot down the freeway. He passes his intended exit--- without the slightest realization. But that's an aside.
The drama on TV is in Spanish, and as I watch and listen, I grasp the meaning of some words because of the scene, because of portrayal and context. I note how similar some Spanish words are to English words. After all, Latin was the official language in both the provinces of Britannia and Hispania during the long life of the Roman Empire.
At 7-Eleven, the Hispanic clerk counts out the ten dollars due me in change, and I repeat what he said in Spanish, to get practice, and when I'm done the clerk says "and etc."
At the 5:30 p.m. Spanish language mass on Sunday at my parish church, I get the meaning of some words because I know the order and content of the liturgy. That adds to a small but growing pile. I observe as well the Hispanic Catholics in our community, at their mass are far more outgoing, far more friendly and less formal while sharing the extension of the peace of Christ than English speaking Catholics at our other masses.
At the beginners Spanish class at San Mateo Adult School, the teacher explains how every noun in Spanish is either masculine or feminine, how to tell the difference and how sometimes you can't tell the difference until you learn the gender of the word. We get a lesson on how to conjugate in present tense the infinitive "to be" in Spanish. We take notes. We practice how to pronounce the vowel sounds.
To me, the language and learning how to speak it is part and parcel of this great adventure God is allowing me to have.