What I’ve Learned Trying To Learn Spanish

I wanted to take some time to write about my journey to learning Spanish. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned a lot along the way:

My journey to learning Spanish

First, some context. My Spanish has its ups and downs, there are moments where I feel really fluent and confident and other times where I fall back on only speaking in present tense and I completely butcher pronunciation. I started learning Spanish in a small town in Wisconsin in 6th grade and took classes all the way through high school. When I was a junior, we had an opportunity to study abroad for a two-week program. The French students went to France, the German students went to Germany, and the Spanish students got to go to Spain.

I don’t recall improving my Spanish to the level of fluency in two weeks (obviously), but I did learn what Catalan was for the first time! The family I stayed with for a week was just outside Valencia and the rest of the time our class explored Toledo, Madrid and Barcelona. I then went to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where I decided to continue my learning and went on to almost major in Spanish. When I decided to go abroad again, I opted for an internship in Human Resources in Sydney, Australia. The rest of my peers (in my Spanish classes) went to a Spanish speaking country for a study/internship abroad.

Staying motivated 

When I got back to MN from Australia, I felt so extremely behind. I hadn’t practiced Spanish in what felt like forever! Meanwhile, everyone else sounded fluent to me, so naturally I lost some motivation.  I decided to not double major, and I ended up minoring in Spanish instead. I also decided to graduate early, but had I stayed and completed all four years then I would have majored in it as well. It’s OK, I thought, if the goal was to be fluent in Spanish I didn’t need to take more courses; I would need to find opportunities to practice more and stay motivated with this goal in mind.

Making time to practice

Since college, I have traveled to many parts of Latin America, both Central and South America and did my best to practice when possible. Now that I’m back in San Francisco, I’ve been trying my best to strike up conversations whenever possible. I’ve noticed, and this is no surprise, the more I have been practicing the more I feel good about my language level. I have also been receiving more and more positive feedback from fluent speakers (though I’m not sure sometimes if they’re just being nice)!

Recognizing how difficult language learning is for adults

I’m writing all of this to say that learning a new language isn’t easy for everyone, and it’s particularly difficult if you don’t invest time (and sometimes money) into being serious about what it takes to becoming fluent. Setting realistic expectations before beginning a journey towards fluency as an adult is crucial. It’s simply not as easy for adults.

Recently, I discovered this company called italki, which really goes above and beyond in offering a personalized experience with native teachers. Read, watch movies, listen to podcasts, practice when you can. If you’r eat the point where you’re committing to learning, definitely look into italki. You can check them out below with a discount code (no matter what level you’re at). Buena suerte!

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by italki HK Limited. All opinions are my own.

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