Hola! I’ve wanted to learn a second language for as long as I can remember. This has always been something in the back of mind, something that I looked in to but never actually got around to acting on.
There’s something about a new year coming around that makes people want to better themselves, to improve upon the person they were in the previous year. I’m one of those people. Yes I know, many people are pretty cynical about new year’s resolutions and say that you can make changes at any point in the year. That’s completely true but I find it easy to find motivation when it comes to a new year drawing in. And for this year, I’ve decided to finally take up Spanish classes. I wanted to share with you some of my reasons and maybe even inspire you to do something you’ve been putting off for a long time in 2018!
To gain a new skill
Simple first reason. It goes without saying that I’m learning Spanish to gain a new skill. And not just as something to add to my CV, one that I will actually put to use and see some value from.
To challenge myself
Don’t get me wrong, my day job is challenging and I’m constantly learning new things. But I’m one of those annoyingly curious people that always wants to know more and be challenged further. Plus, I’m terrible at picking up languages, so learning to speak Spanish really will challenge me.
I did GCSE French at school and was pretty awful, it was definitely one of my weakest subjects. So yes, I’ll probably be rubbish and it will take years to pick Spanish up, but at least I’m challenging myself to do something that’s not going to be a walk in the park.
To get out of my comfort zone
I don’t really like speaking in English to more than a few people, let alone trying and failing to pronounce Spanish words in front of a group. Public speaking is not really my thing and the part I find most difficult when learning a language is the pronunciation of words. Add those two things together and you can see that these lessons are definitely going to push me out of my comfort zone. That’s not a bad thing- I think everybody needs to take trip there now and again.
The Spanish town (pueblo) of Mijas
To avoid being the stereotypical Brit abroad
Brits have quite a reputation when abroad and I think a big part of this (aside from the drinking and ridiculous sunburn) is that we often go to places expecting everybody to be able to speak English and often knowing no more than “hello” and “thank you” in the local language.
I don’t want to be one of those people anymore. Yes, learning to speak Spanish is not going to come in useful in a lot of countries I’ll visit. Obviously. But I think it will give me the confidence to try out a few phrases from my trusty Lonely Planet books, rather than me panicking that I won’t say a word properly and not attempting at all, which is what usually happens now. I want to make an effort to speak to locals in their own language and to get under the skin of a place, which brings me nicely on my next point.
To learn about a new culture
I’ve been to Spain quite a lot of times and do know a fair amount about the country’s culture, but on a very superficial basis. These lessons should help me to understand another culture, which is so important for me when I’m travelling. I really like to feel like I’ve got under the skin of a place and understood its culture, history and people.
Spain is definitely a country where I haven’t been able to do that, probably due to the fact that I’ve mainly travelled there when visiting family, which can provide somewhat of an unintentional buffer between you and a place. When you’re visiting somebody abroad, I find you often follow them rather than getting to know the place. After all, it’s like having a free tour guide!
I visited Cuba last year and whilst I felt that I gained a good understanding of the culture, much of this was from books, information from tour guides and generally observing my surroundings. I wish I had been able to speak Spanish so that I could have conversed more with the local people and really got to know more about the country and its people by actually talking to them properly.
A Cuban local
To travel more and to different places
The last point, and one of the only blog-related reasons, is that by learning Spanish, I feel like this will push me to travel more. To new parts of Spain, certainly, but also to Central and South America. I have to be honest, whilst places such as Mexico and Peru are high up on my travel bucket list, I would choose a destination in Asia over the Americas all day every at the moment.
Even though that’s the case, I know it’s a pretty closed attitude for me to have, as I’ve never visited South America to know whether I’ll like it more than Asia. Because I adore Asia so much, I’m just assuming that it won’t come close, when in actual fact I might like it even more!
I don’t really need another excuse to travel (I’ve got a pretty long list already) but I’ll take it. After all, wouldn’t it be a crying shame if I didn’t put my new found skill to use in the exact place intended! I’d like to travel to Central or South America in the next couple of years and maybe even attend a Spanish school for a week or two to really immerse myself in to the language.
Revolution Square, Havana
Can you speak more than one language? If, would you like to? Or do you have a completely different goal in mind for 2018?