In My Words: Quintana takes cue from Fallon

In My Words: Quintana takes cue from Fallon

I admit I was a little nervous.

Pitching in front of 40,000 people isn't easy, either, but that's what I do. It's a different feeling going in front of the cameras for a TV show. I'm not an actor.

I was excited when I got asked to go on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." They heard that I actually used to watch his show to help learn English.

I met with Jimmy before the show. He's really a natural guy. I feel like I've got a new friend.

We did our segment outside NBC's studios in Rockefeller Center. There were a lot of people around. He asked me a couple of questions, and then it was time to do my joke for the show. It took me only two times. The first time they said I did it a little slow. The second time, I did it perfect.

It was really exciting that so many people saw it. I heard from people in Colombia. They know Jimmy's a funny guy from his Red Sox movie, "Fever Pitch."

My teammates enjoyed it. They said, "Now you're the funny guy," and "How you doing, Jimmy?"

Doing "The Tonight Show" really shows how far I've come in being able to speak English. I only knew a few words when I first came to the United States. It wasn't easy. For instance, a lot of times I would want something in a restaurant, and it would come out different than what I ordered.

Quintana on The Tonight Show

Mainly, I started learning English by watching TV shows. Jimmy's show is funny. It was easy for me to catch a few words.

I watched a lot of movies with subtitles. I really paid attention to the subtitles and tried to match them with the words I heard in English. I'd really be focused on what they were saying.

When I was in the minor leagues with the Yankees, we had some English classes. Many times, I would be watching a TV show and go, "Oh, I heard that word in class today."

Quintana on learning english

I always thought it was important to learn English because it is part of my job. I want to have good relationships with all of my teammates. I want to be able to talk to them, to learn from them. I also want to be able to understand my pitching coach when he tells me important things. The team has people to help translate, but it is better when you can understand for yourself what they're saying.

I remember I was nervous the first time I did an interview in English a couple of years ago. It's different than when you're with just one person. There were a lot of people, and they all were asking questions. I think I did OK.

I am getting more comfortable speaking English every day. Sometimes I still have to think about what I'm saying. I also try to speak slowly so people understand me. It's not my language. So I try not to go too fast.

I know that every Latin player wants to learn English. I tell them to try to be good at listening so you can catch words. Then when you speak, you can throw a couple of words in there.

I put in a lot of effort to learn how to speak English. It's part of my job. I just felt it was important to understand what people are saying.

Jose Quintana is a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.