Take the plunge: Stop talking about learning Spanish, and Learn Spanish


5224526190_f08b047f49_nLots of people would love to learn Spanish. It’s a beautiful language, spoken by millions of people around the world, and if you can speak it you’ve got access to a whole new world, culture, and way of thinking. I’ve got lots of friends who are planning on taking up Spanish, whether for a new year’s resolution or just to show off. Everyone’s talking about it, but not many people are actually doing it.

I can fully sympathise. I’ve taken up various languages and either not even started, or fallen at the first hurdle. Here are a few reasons that people give for not jumping in at the deep end and taking up Spanish, or any other language.

I don’t have time

True, you won’t learn Spanish overnight. It is, for sure, a long, long term project. But that doesn’t mean it’s time consuming. You can learn effectively given just 10 minutes a day. Granted, if you could spend longer you would get there quicker, but you don’t need all that time. In fact, if you give yourself strict time limits, you will be much more focused and efficient in the time that you do spend learning Spanish.

Aside from this, there are also numerous tricks for fitting some study time into your gaps in the day – you can easily flick through a deck of flashcards while waiting for a bus, or you could take things which you already do in English, and do those in Spanish, such as checking the news. Two birds with one stone!

I don’t have the money

I have a theory (with no substantive proof, but nevermind): Why are so many language courses so prohibitively expensive? And, why are those courses so well received? Can they be that good? Perhaps, but put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s forked out serious money for the latest language learning software. Suddenly, you’ve found a lot more time to study. You also focus a lot harder on it now. You probably told some of your friends about your recent purchase, so are keen to show them your results (that’s pretty good motivation). So, you’ve got time, focus, motivation, and material. Any course which can generate those ingredients is bound to get the results!

You don’t need to spend a lot

Apart from some basic purchases, such as a phrase book, a dictionary, and perhaps some audio courses (depending on how you best learn), you needn’t spend a lot. There’s a huge, huge amount of resources devoted to learning Spanish free online. You won’t need to spend your money, but you will need currency of other kinds: Motivation, focus, and a certain amount of time!

I might not be very good

I think this can be a really debilitating mindset. If you were a true perfectionist, you would literally never speak Spanish to anyone, ever. When we start learning a new language, we aren’t very good. We get better though – that’s the basic principle of learning. At the start, you’ll feel slightly bewildered, confused, perhaps frustrated, and when you speak it will be peppered with mistakes. No-one is very good at a language when they start, but the sooner you get into a more positive, “can-do” mindset, the better you’ll feel about where you are, and the faster you’ll actually progress.

It’s too hard

One of my favourite ideas, and I wish I could find the exact quote, comes from Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter. He was one of the finest pianists the world has ever seen, famous for both his demonic speed as well as delicacy of touch. For him, no piano piece was any harder than another. Some took longer to learn than others, and that was all. “Difficulty” was simply how long it took him to learn something.

And this goes for learning Spanish too. Sure, you might not understand anything at the moment, and saying anything beyond “una cerveza” may be a stretch, but you know that if you keep at it, no matter what, what seems impossible now in a few months’ time will be second nature. It’s a question of persistence, and that’s it.

I just never got round to it

This is perhaps the most common excuse. Basically, people just need a push to get started. Starting a language is the hardest part of learning it. Setting yourself a goal is the best way to get started. How about making sure your next holiday will be in Spain? Granted, this isn’t cheap, but Spain’s a great place to go on holiday anyway. If you can’t quite manage that, commit to going to a conversational group and put a date on when you go. That will give you the motivation to get started, and once you’ve started you’ve already taken the most important step in learning Spanish.

Are you putting off learning Spanish? What excuses have you used? Let me know in the comments below!

2 comments. Leave new

22nd July 2013 8:51 am

I am 41 years old and a living example of your saying. First attempt back in 1996, second in 1998, third one since last November and going. Learning Spanish is a lifelong quest for me!!

22nd July 2013 9:27 am

Great to hear you’ve kept it up, and I hope you keep going for years to come.

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