I have always been in love with languages and because of that, I know that fluency is not something that happens overnight. I am aware of “the journey” and I have had days where I woke up unsure of which language I was speaking in my dream.
Most likely I would say that even though it is possible to start speaking a language in a relatively short amount of time, you should not be hard on yourself. Learning a new language is not just about the language; the language comes WITH A SET OF VALUES and is also attached to a culture.
One can say that there were “moments” for those who speak a second language that made a huge difference in how and why they were learning that language in the first place.
Bear in mind that I don’t want this post to be about the cognitive or neurological aspects of learning Spanish, but rather about the emotional and human connection that takes place in the process of “speaking Spanish like a pro”. Therefore, I gathered some opinions from people who are now proud to say they are Spanish speakers and fully bilingual. Here is the question: What helped you the most in becoming fluent in Spanish? Below are their answers.
” I would say amazing teachers I had at school and a private teacher along with being able to spend time living in Colombia. I reminisce about those days eating “arepas” or even having fun at “asados” with 40-50 family members.”- Sofiya, Austria
Similarly, Phillip from the UK, expressed that the combination of living in a Spanish Speaking country and private lessons or a course at a language institute, helped him a lot to improve his conversation skills:
“The only thing that took me a while to master was Gender Pronouns, and I know they are important in the Spanish language ha ha but that doesn’t mean they are not a pain in the neck.”
Grammar is rarely nice to those who have just gotten started with a second language. The native tongue seems to fight new structures and dominate.
In like manner, for many Spanish speakers their surroundings are crucial to establish a mental link to the language. However, this can be both a blessing and a curse. Such is the case for Johanna from Sweden:
“I learnt Spanish in the US while I was studying, but to be really fluent what helped me was to practice in a Spanish environment. I lived in Spain for years without really being fluent because I was afraid to speak. In Spain people had the habit of laughing If I made mistakes. Luckily, I became more fluent in Peru as I experienced less restriction and criticism.”
Overall, I am happy to hear stories with a happy ending and it seems all the people I interviewed overcame the obstacles they found. I would like to add that perseverance is also a game changer for those acquiring a new language. It is also good to know yourself and what kind of learner you are. Some people are more visual than others, some learn through songs, others by reading stories.
” I’d say hearing it [Spanish] helped my brain get used to how it sounds and reading helped me learn words and phrases.” – Daihlia, USA
So, my final advice to those trying to learn and improve their Spanish would be this: instead of looking at it as a process or a chore, be open to a new experience. Try to have the same attitude as when learning to play a new instrument and truly enjoy it. Do not get caught up in the theory. Remember that by learning a second language you learn a new perspective on life, a new worldview.
And you? What has been your experience? Leave a comment!