It All Started with a Book
It was over a year ago that I first thought about learning Spanish, and about 6 months since I actually started learning. In back of my mind I had always had a faint desire to learn a foreign language, but It was never something I thought I could actually do.
I always had this timeline in my mind and thought that to be fluent in a foreign language I would have to undergo 3-5 years of intensive studying. This is probably because I knew a lot of people who had taken 3-4 years of Spanish in school and still couldn’t speak it very well.
I didn’t know anyone who had successfully learned a foreign language from scratch before. But then I read a book by Benny Lewis, an Irish Polyglot who speaks at least 8 languages. If you have been involved in language learning on the internet you’ve probably heard of him, and for good reason.
He emphasizes speaking a new language as much as possible. His approach can seem extreme, but at the same time it feels very fun and well...human. I don’t know if I could cut myself off from my native language cold turkey like he does, but his method seems to work.
Ultimately his advice helped me realize that I could in fact learn a new language and that there is more than one way to skin a cat (ever wonder where that idiom come from?). I didn’t need to spend 5 years with my nose in a boring text book. I wasn't prepared to completely immerse myself 24/7 like Benny and learn a language in three months.
But I figured if I practice 1-2 hours a day I could probably become conversational in about a year. I quickly decided that I would learn a foreign language and that Spanish would the one I learned. (the reasons for that I’ll get to in a minute).
My Spanish Journey Begins
After reading his book I began to research further on the web about how to learn languages and found numerous methods, resources, and best of all i found more people like Benny who were in fact learning languages quickly without formal classrooms or books.
I decided on the idea but tipped toed my way into the language until January 2015 when I fully committed to learning. That’s when I signed up for my first Spanish lesson on an Italki and really pushed myself to practice.
My goal was to be somewhere around a B2 level by the end of the year, I also wanted to learn all aspects of the language: reading, writing, listening, and most of all speaking. I also wanted to learn in a way that wasn’t too intrusive toward my day to day lifestyle (no more than 1-2 hours a day 5 days a week).
I should mention that there have been some weeks where I spend way more time than that and a lot more where I spend less, but consistently I have been studying or practicing Spanish for no less than 2-3 hours per week. I’d say on average 5 or 4. 5 months in and I’m coming closer and closer to an intermediate level, something I once thought I could never do!
Why I Chose Spanish
Now why exactly did I choose Spanish? Well there are several reasons, one is my father was Mexican-American. He was a 2nd generation born American but his parents were from a part of Texas walking distance from Mexico where most people don’t use English as a first language.
For whatever reason neither my father nor his brothers or sisters ever spoke Spanish, but they could all understand it. I actually ended up living with my grandmother on my father’s side for the last couple years and she speaks Spanish, though she constantly switches between Spanish and English mid sentence, and doesn't remember some Spanish words (I think they call this Spanglish?).
I want learn because until a generation ago one side of my family all spoke Spanish. There is a personal sense of history and identity for me in learning the language.
The second and probably biggest reason I want to learn is because I want to travel, and you can get a lot of mileage out of Spanish compared to some other languages. There are over 20 of countries that claim it as a national or official language and its estimated that over 400 million people speak it.
The countries of Spain and Latin America are full of diverse cultures and peoples, and I plan to travel to there one day.
Food & Girls
Some other less lofty reasons are I love the different foods and I think Latinas can be quite pretty. Hence, the image to the left.
But yeah, that’s how my journey began. I doubt Spanish will be the only language I will learn. I’m well on my way to fluency and I don’t regret my choice one bit 🙂
What about you? What made you decide to learn Spanish? How did you start learning?