Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Following Your Dreams & Learning Languages


Every once in a while I get a lovely email drop into my inbox asking for a little advice/support/words of encouragement with regards to learning Spanish (or languages in general/going to university).

I genuinely love hearing from people that read this blog and always try to reply in the most encouraging, positive way I can, so I thought I would share all that information right here, right now!

I want to start by saying - I am in no way shape or form a 'natural' at learning languages (I envy those that are!). I've been trying to master Spanish for over 15 years (hah) and there is still a lot I do not know, even after graduating with a degree in it. However it was always a dream from my very first encounter with Spain, it's language & its people; to fully immerse myself in that countries way of being, and so that is what I set out to do.

So I'm going to break this doing into tips & tricks on how to achieve this;

♥ Follow your heart : as with anything in life, your heart will be the main element in your decision of learning a language - taking it to college or university level - you will need your heart to want to do this as it will not be an easy journey otherwise. I was very close to choosing art over Spanish when making my decision of university courses; my head said art,  my heart said Spanish. I know now, if I'd have chosen a subject only because I was technically good at it, but my heart wasn't in it, it wouldn't have lasted.

All you need is determination : if you are determined, you can achieve anything. A lot of problems are mind over matter and during the course of learning you will, 100%, come across things that will make you want to give up. In every year there was an exam I did bad in, just about scraping a pass, but take those bad points and be determined to make them your strength - study harder and keep going.

♥  Make WordReference your best friend : if only someone had told me about this little gem earlier in life, I'm sure I'd have found A Level a lot easier! Honestly, language learners, if you haven't already - have a look. It is fantastic. Reading, listening to music, the news or a book are all also great ways to pick up new vocabulary and practise grammar structures (note: at first it will take an age, but you'll get there. trust me).

♥  Be realistic : as much as I believe if you're determined, you will achieve - I also believe in being realistic to your own knowledge. In life, there will always be someone better than you, but that doesn't matter, as long as you remain realistic. There will be people who have spent longer in spain, who can pick up grammar quicker than I can say 'que?!' - and will always have a better accent - but don't let it bother you or get you down. Know your strengths, as they may be their weakness.

♥  Find a native & practise : there is no better teacher than a native of the language you want to learn. Even if  they cannot speak english or if this means going for a coffee once a week to just chat, practise makes perfect. You will pick up an accent, learn useful & relative vocabulary (lets face it, when are we going to talk to someone about Franco or Womens Rights when abroad?) and you will make a friend!

♥ Give it your all : this applies to anything - anything at all. There will only be one person disappointed on results day if you do not do this. If you genuinely, 110%, give ANYTHING your best, you know in your heart, you have done everything you can; and so your result will reflect that. It is the best feeling, despite the percentage, despite the grade, to know that you gave it everything you had. that is all anyone can ever ask.

I'm forever wanting to learn new languages, and yes, it is difficult, but when you're in a foreign country and don't feel like a tourist? One of lifes highlights! All of the above, I feel, can be applied to any dream you have (apart from maybe, word reference & chatting with a native!) and so if there is something you want to do, but have yet to do so; what are you waiting for?
I hope this has helped in anyway, shape or form. If nothing else its made me want to crack on with Italian again :)

Ciao! x
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11 comments

  1. As a fellow language learner I agree with everything you have said! Visiting a foreign country as a language learner and not as a tourist is one of the most amazing experiences. I feel I have gained so much from studying languages, not just the languages themselves but I'm now more confident, open minded, and I just easier to new cultures. It really has been such a rewarding experience. It'd hard at times but I'm pretty sure it will all be worth it - even if I'm not completely fluent by the time I graduate next year! Great post - as usual - Sam :) besitos!!

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  2. Definitely some good tips! It can be tough sticking it out at times, but it's amazing to become fluent in another language. I'd add that finding a fun way to practice the language is key, like making a friend as you suggest or watching movies, etc. If it's not fun sometimes, it's easy to give up.

    Also, Word Reference is the BEST!

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  3. Definitely :) thanks so much, glad you liked it.

    Word reference has saved my ass so many times haha! I love it! X

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  4. Yes! Exactly all of that. I came from my year abroad pretty much a new person. Once you've accomplished that you feel like you can do anything :)

    Glad you liked the post lovely x

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  5. Hi there! I'm a Japanese language graduate and I completely agree with what you've said here. Especially about the determination part. So many people joined my class because they liked anime and stuff. That's not enough to keep you through how hard learning a language is - and it IS hard.

    I'm having the struggles all over again through learning German and Chinese haha. Both teachers laugh at how frustrated I get that I'm not as good as I want to be at this point ;-)

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  6. Amazing, I've been struggling to learn French/Lamenting not paying better attention when in school. I think I'm going to take a class to light the fire under myself!

    I'm also going to add don't be afraid of being too old to try something new :) I dropped out of my first degree and took some time to travel and work, and now at 26 I'm back with the 19 year olds at uni. :)

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  7. Good tips! I'm half Italian myself but can't actually speak much of it - very frustrating. I really need to find some time and motivation to do it.

    Loving the art btw x

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  8. If you wanna have a chat about Franco or anything else just let me know :P

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  9. I've always wanted to learn a language properly and I am currently re-learning the French I was taught at school. However learning languages was never something easy so I will be taking on some of your advice. Thank you :)

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  10. LOVE this post! I've been learning Spanish for quite a few years now, heck I even moved there to improve my language, as soon as I touched down on English soil again, it's gone! I wish I had the patience to keep it up as it's my dream and passion! x

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  11. I love languages! I love knowing bits & bobs about all of them, it's just so interesting. My husband is Spanish, so that is a dream of mine one day, to be fluent. I'm half Ukrainian, and I absolutely love the Ukrainian culture and language. I'm currently teaching myself Russian (which isn't that bad, since I know some Ukrainian, but then again it is really hard because of the complex grammar structure) since it's more widely used and is spoken across Ukraine anyways. I definitely want to take languages in school, but I'm not sure how to ensure I get a good payinng job that is in demand.

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