Language Lessons

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Hola! Me llamo Jill, y apprendo espanol!

You may be able to tell from the opening, I am learning Spanish! For the past two months, I have been hard at work on this goal. Although I am still early in the process, it seems like the perfect time to share a few things I have noticed about the learning journey so far.

  1. Getting started (on anything) needs to come at the right time. The goal of learning Spanish is one I have had for a while but just hadn’t committed to. So, why now? I wish I could tell you a great story, but it’s actually a little silly. I was waiting at a restaurant for my order, heard people speaking Spanish, remembered I wanted to do that too and found an app to get started. It was fun, so I came back the next day and then the next and… here we are.
  2. You need to be comfortable with being new and “incompetent” to continue on toward any goal. I am proficient in English. I know lots of words and can carry on a conversation and do all the things. In Spanish, I do not. Each day I learn new words, sentence structure and rules – things that in English, I likely learned in grade school. It’s easy to become frustrated and feel ridiculous or incompetent. In those moments, you have to remember you are none of those things, just NEW. And eventually, if you keep working on it, you won’t be so new.
  3. There’s a certain amount of false bravado you need to have to try something new. You can learn a language or other skill in your head, but where it really becomes useful is when you can put your weight down on it and try it out. This means actually opening your mouth and using the new words, all while risking getting it wrong. A little bravery (real or imagined) is helpful in these moments to give it a try. Remember that with risk comes reward.
  4. You gotta know when you need more help. I started my Spanish language journey with a fun gaming app. While enjoyable, I was making mistakes because I didn’t have understanding why I was doing what I was doing. So, I got an educational app that teaches more foundational skills. While both of these together are great, I need people to practice with, so a conversational class is the next step in my journey.

As someone who teaches others, it’s important to me that I never forget what it feels like to be new at something. But let’s be honest here, I am also human and want to be “perfect” at the new thing, now. Perhaps there is something you want to learn, but the timing hasn’t been right, or you haven’t been willing to be vulnerable. I want to ask you to please reconsider and just go for it. It’s been so fun to have something new to focus on and devote time to. I feel a great sense of accomplishment in my daily practice and that false bravado I mentioned? Well, it actually feels a little real now.

So, I am going to carry on, chipping away at my goal of becoming fluent in Spanish. While I don’t know where my learning journey will ultimately take me, I can commit to enjoying the experience. And that is muy bueno!