In the last 9 weeks, I’ve been learning Spanish almost full time, and during this time, I’ve realized how interesting life really is.
At the moment I can understand Spanish very well and write well. The next few weeks I will be focusing almost entirely on improving my speech and becoming as fluent as possible.
What I have realized is that no matter what I do, as long as I do what I enjoy, I grow as a person.
During these last weeks, I’ve immersed myself in Spanish and dipped my toes in a few other languages. It’s been a lot of fun, but it has also opened my eyes in other areas of my life.
For example, I now have more confidence in English. I am more aware of the sounds of the English language, and I’m having a lot more fun speaking any language.
Everything you do has an impact on everything else. Nothing stands alone, and it doesn’t matter what you’re excited about, as long as you do what makes you bliss out.
The interesting part about all this is that it is impossible for me to know where my feelings will lead me, which is what adds just a little bit more spice to my life.
With that said, here are 7 lessons I’ve learned from learning a new language:
1. Creating Your Own Curriculum
To be completely honest, I took an intensive course in Spanish a few years ago, but it didn’t do much. Sure, I learned how to order beer and ask where the toilet is, but in the end, it wasn’t useful, and I ended up not speaking Spanish at all.
I didn’t want to learn Spanish the traditional way, because it simply takes too long and isn’t effective. I started thinking back to how I learned English when my age was in the single-digits.
I learned English through watching cartoons, movies and playing video games. Later I started reading books, chatting online and so on.
This gave me a clue as to how I was going to learn Spanish. At first, I started watching dubbed TV-series. As my vocabulary grew, I slowly started reading books and chatting online.
There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to language learning. It’s hard work to learn a language, but it’s fairly easy if you’re motivated and know what to do.
2. Destroying the Box
Learning a language isn’t just a fun challenge, it also gives you a lot of freedom. I can now move around in Spain and South America without having to rely on English.
Even though my Spanish is nowhere near perfect, I can comprehend and communicate without problems.
If you still believe learning a language is impossible, or that you can’t do it, it is just because no one has showed you how to do it properly.
Just because you failed at school doesn’t mean you’re lost forever. What happens in school has no bearing on what happens in real life.
3. Having Fun / Experimenting
Learning a language should be fun. If it isn’t, you’ll not be motivated enough to keep going when things get tough.
There really is no right way to learn a language. When I did my initial research, I discovered, like in so many other fields, that there were advocates on all sides.
Some said to just listen to the language, while others said to start talking as soon as possible. The right way to learn is the way that is fun for you.
Fun for me means watching TV-series, reading books, chatting online and later speaking. I do what I enjoy doing in English, but I do it in Spanish instead.
4. Being Aware of Your Goals
It’s all too easy for me to get bogged down in the details, which is why I have to be aware of what I’m really trying to accomplish.
When learning Spanish, I got caught in being perfect. I wanted to have a native accent and I wanted to speak flawlessly.
In the end, what really matters to me is being able to read, write and communicate with any Spanish-speaking person. It doesn’t have to be perfect, because it’s impossible to speak with perfection.
Even in my native language I make errors all the time, so why should I expect anything else in another language? I will learn as I go. Reminding myself that I’m human makes me all that much more relaxed.
5. Creating Time
I’m pretty good at eliminating tasks that I don’t want to do. Of course, when it comes to time, it helps that I don’t have a job, but nonetheless, even when working for myself, I’ve found that the hours can easily slip away.
Whenever I become interested in something new, I put it first and ignore everything else. In these last few months as I’ve been learning Spanish, I’ve almost been neglecting my blog and my business.
6. Going Out of Your Comfort Zone
Learning a language certainly is uncomfortable at first, especially if you about it immersion style like I like to do.
At first, you won’t understand much about what’s going on in the TV-series you’re watching, but after some time your brain and ears will start getting used to the new sounds and patterns of the language.
You have to stick it out, and before you know it, you’ll understand things you didn’t understand before.
The same goes for chatting and speaking. At first you might get discouraged, because you can only utter a few words here and there, but it’ll show you where your weaknesses are.
You’ll gain vital experience points after each encounter. The worry of making mistakes will always be there, but if you keep moving forward, you’ll learn more and more.
7. Being in the Now
I’m your classical over-achiever. When I set goals, I like to achieve them. This has both its upsides and its downsides.
I learn things fast and I get stuff done, but I sometimes put unnecessary pressure on myself and can lose track of what I’m doing.
When learning Spanish, I was reminded of the fact that there’s really no rush to get anywhere, as long as I’m doing something I enjoy.
If you’re doing something that makes you blissful, you’re on the right path, no matter what people other people may think.