Learning a foreign language, some say, requires a talent similar to learning to play a musical instrument. Although this may be true, one can learn to do both without possessing any talent at all. Lot’s of practice may be required, as neither is an easy task.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.“
– Albert Einstein
Spanish Teacher Mary
I started learning languages when I was a little girl. English was the first language that I learned. I have to admit that I didn’t like it at the time, and I studied it because my parents forced me to do it. However, I am grateful for the experience because I discovered at an early age that learning languages was one of my passions. I also love to travel, and one of the things that I love about learning a new language is being able to communicate and enjoy the culture more when I am in a different country. I particularly love when I talk to people in their own language because it creates a special connection with them.
But learning languages hasn’t always being a happy journey. I remember when I was studying English, for example, it was very hard for me to learn the simple present: speak vs. speaks, do vs. does, etc. I didn’t like it at all, and I made so many mistakes! I also could not understand the use of the auxiliary “do/does”, because we do not have anything similar in Spanish. However, I had a teacher who encouraged me to continually try and practice. So I did it… over and over again. As I progressed to higher levels, and I would encounter something in the simple present, it suddenly seemed so easy after all that practice!
So my advice for my students is the following: There will be times when you will be frustrated in your Spanish class. When this happens, think of one positive thing that you will experience once you speak Spanish fluently. Speak to Spanish speaking friends, travel, understand new cultures. Focus on that and keep trying until you overcome your current issue. There is always a reward for every effort we make 😉. You may not get the reward immediately but as time passes and you continue to try, you will soon look back and will be proud of yourself for trying so hard!
When I started school in the United States, my parents, siblings, and I didn’t know any English. My father made the decision to put me in an all English speaking class thinking it would help me transition faster. I was young, confused and lost most of the time. I remember being assigned a little friend as my helper in class. One day we were doing an activity in class and I was just copying what others were doing. I remember my teacher telling me loudly “Sit” and in my head I heard “Sí” (yes). So, I kept going. Until my little friend had to tell me that our teacher was asking me to sit down and wait my turn 😆. I can laugh at it now but I remember feeling embarrassed at the time. That’s why, as a Spanish Teacher, one of my main goals is for my students to have fun as we learn. Even when we mess up and get embarrassed. We will laugh, learn, and do better next time.
Spanish Teacher Fredo
To tell you the truth I am not very good at telling stories, but I remember a day, when I started learning Mexican sign language. I was eating with some friends, some of them deaf. I wanted to ask them to pass me the sauce, but in reality I was saying to pass me the underwear! That is when they all started to laugh, and obviously I was embarrassed, but a friend told me to not worry about it because, what was important was that I was making the effort to learn a new language and it is very normal to make these types of mistakes.
With this experience I learned two things. The first thing is it is normal to make errors and it is not important that others laugh at you. Like Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”. And the second thing, I will never forget is how to say “sauce” in sign language again!
Spanish Teacher Laura
I attended a language exchange, where Spanish speakers meet up with English speakers and spend time practicing each other’s language together. While speaking to some British boys I mixed up the phrasal verbs “pass out” with “pass away”. You can imagine the confusion and, in the end, eventually when it was explained to me, the hilarity that followed. English phrasal verbs have always been difficult for me to remember. I sure won’t forget these phrasal verbs again!
The Kids’ Club Spanish School’s teachers may teach Spanish, but remember, they were also, at one time a student and know what it is like to learn a foreign language. It is not always smooth sailing and practice and consistency is a must. But if you practice every chance you get, you will be successful in your goals. When learning a new language remember that practice really does make perfect.
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