A couple of days ago, I went to visit the family of a friend here in the Colombian coast. I have been there before so I was really excited about going there again and this time for a longer period of time. They are really nice people and they welcomed me with open arms.
So when I got there everyone was happy, there was a great environment, I felt really welcomed and just like home. However, as the time was passing by, I started to have feelings that I used to have when I was learning English and those feelings were not good.
Accents from the coast are completely different from the accent in Medellin and the people from the coast that live in Medellin adjust their accents so that the people from Medellin can understand them. In that way is easier to understand them when they are in Medellin. There may be some occasions you may have to correct some of the Costeños (that’s how we called people from the Coast)words or ask them again what they said to you, but that’s okay.
However being there was a completely different story, everyone was speaking so fast and so different that I could barely get some phrases. It was so challenging that I started to feel feelings like anger, frustration and at some point, I felt like I wanted to quit, like I wanted to go back to Medellin earlier than planned.
Learning a languageis just the same, at some point in your learning process you will feel lost, you will be angry and maybe you will be frustrated, especially if you move to a Spanish speaking country. It will feel like it is horrible, but with some time and effort, these feelings will change.
How to overcome these bad feelings?
Going back to my friend’s example. At the beginning, I thought about just staying in my room where I didn’t have to listen to them nor struggle to understand them, and just wait for the time to go back to Medellin, but in the Colombian culture, that’s rude and especially if you’re staying in their house.
So, the only option I had was to do the contrary. I decided that I was going to go out of the room and I was going to listen to them as much as I could to understand that accent, it was the only way out of that problem and that is what I did.
Every day, I would sit and talk to the family about topics like the most important news of the week. I would talk about their jobs and the events that we were having during the weekend, about the climate changes, etc.
I used interesting topicsand a common vocabulary, first to help us keep interested in the conversations. Second, to get to see and understand the way they were pronouncing the words and doing these things helped me a lot. Also, I would ask for the meaning of all the different words that we don’t use in Medellin, so I could learn more about them and their culture.
If you are learning Spanish or you moved to a Spanish speaking countryto learn this language. You must be feeling or you must have felt anger, tiredness, frustration and you must have had the desire to quit. But don’t quit and don’t even try to avoid the mental efforts required to learn a language.
What you need to do to is to stay calm and look for positive things that can help you learn, don’t get stuck in difficult tasks, phrases or words. Try to remember why you want to learn Spanish.When you have bad feelings try to stay strong and fight those feelings, you can practice or say to yourself the things you already know, this will show you how far you have come and helped you see that efforts give great benefits.
The last days of my staying in theColombian coast, where fun and I really enjoyed them. I can’t say I completely understand the friends over there, but I get the sense and ideas they want me to get. If you keep working on your Spanish you will have feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment like I have now, after putting myself in situations that would help me improve my understanding of their accent.
These bad feelings that you may have right now are just part of the process, they will go away when you start applying the recommendations that we will give you.
First of all, thinking too much will kill your process. If I would have stayed there in my room, thinking that I would not get to understand these friends, people that speak the same language I speak, but have a different accent that would have happened, I would still not understand anything of what they say today. But I didn’t give up and I got amazing results for not doing that.
For you as a Spanish learner is the same. Don’t be thinking things like you can’t understand, you can’t listen, and you can’t speak. What we think, we make it a reality, so you better have positive thoughts like you know you can do it. Just put yourself in situations where you can practice any of the skills required to learn Spanish. I assure you, great results will come for you.
Second, we will never get tired of telling you that you need to listen as much as you can, this is the most important thing to do. If you don’t listen, your brain will never get used to Spanish or in my case when I was with my friend’s family, if I wouldn’t have listened to them enough, I wouldn’t have understood them, it’s that simple. So listen, listen and listen some more.
Third, practice makes perfect. If you practice you will get to the point when you will master Spanish, not just sentences, but conversations and even accents. So, if you can practice, go and do it as soon as possible, even if it is just a few sentences. Once these sentences are in your brain you can put more sentences in your vocabulary and start having longer and more conversations.
Don’t sit back at home thinking you can’t learn Spanish because we all know you can do it!If you stop and don’t continue your Spanish learning process, in a few years you will be wondering, why didn’t you do it now? When that happens, frustration, anger, and disappointment won’t go away. Those horrible feelings will be there for the rest of your life just if you don’t work to learn Spanish. So, now is the time to work hard to beat those feelings.
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