Spanish is such a beautiful language. My high school teacher taught us that the best way to pronounce Spanish words correctly is to smile. Now, come on, you gotta admit, that's a pretty darn cool language! By comparison English, like German, is guttural (like the sound of pigs). But wait, it gets better. The pronunciation is remarkably easy. There aren't the millions of different ways to pronounce letters that English has, and if you can read it, chances are very good that when you sound it out, it will be very close to being correct. Try that with English!
I was at a party last year and I politely asked a couple who had been speaking Spanish if I could practice a bit, and they graciously allowed me. They were from Spain, and it was the first time anyone had told me that I spoke Spanish with a Mexican accent. I was so proud! I'm a vato!
Of course I can read Spanish much better than I can understand it being spoken. That's because any spoken language blurs the words together. I learned to use the phrase mas despacio, por favor. Then people will slow down. And. Talk. Like. This. At that point I may or may not have a chance to understand!
I speak what I call Budweiser Spanish. No, I don't drink a lot of beer, but when I was hanging out with my friends in California, who only spoke Spanish, I did. And if you wanted something, like another beer, you had to speak Spanish. And to this day my Spanish is better around friends, around people who will cut me some slack. My friends understand, even if I talk like a four-year old.
Above: with my friend Jesus in Santa Barbara.