Learning a Language is a Lot Like Love



It happens all too often, doesn’t it? You fall head over heels in love, but after a while, it doesn’t seem to be working out, so you break up. I know the feeling all too well, but I found a way to reconcile with my lost love. Here’s how to do the same.

I still remember the first time we met… It was the summer of 2012, and my parents had decided we’d go on holiday to Málaga, Spain. We were leaving the airport when I bumped into him. I heard “El autobús está por ahí.” Not really the best opening line, is it? Fair to say, it wasn’t love at first sight.

We kept crossing paths, but for the first few years, I didn’t really take notice. All that changed in 2014. We met again in high school, where our teacher’s enthusiasm was so infectious that I couldn’t help but see things in a whole other perspective. And I must admit, I liked what I saw…

The next 2 years were a wonderful time to slowly let our relationship grow and blossom. But then came university and something cracked. It wasn’t all fun and games anymore. At first, as in many relationships, we started to lose touch with each other, which then resulted in communication issues. Our relationship was more and more demanding, and I just couldn’t deliver. Something broke inside of me, and I simply ended it.

Fun twist though, we still had hours of class together every week.

But, how did I reconcile with Spanish? Well, one of my classes included a study trip to Salamanca, Spain. It meant that we had to travel with our class to Salamanca and follow language courses in a school there. In the end, I learned some things during that trip which helped me to fall back in love with Spanish.

Tip 2: discovering the New Cathedral of Salamanca

As I’m sure that I’m not the only one who started to despise a language he/she was learning. I decided to share my tips, to reunite with your neglected language:

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    Language courses based on your level
    One of the big reasons I started to despise Spanish was because my personal level of Spanish didn’t match the level we were taught in class. You could say that I was the Jon Snow of our class, I knew nothing, and it made me feel stupid. This was a big difference with Salamanca. There, we had to fill in a language test to make sure we were put in the right class. For the first time in a year, I could answer questions and it felt like I knew something about the language. I know that if you’re learning a language in class, you’re obliged to follow the class level. However, you can always use some of your spare time to exercise some more on your own, at your pace.

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    Don’t forget the culture
    I’m a real history and culture freak when I travel. I love to visit museums, see old buildings full of history, learn about the culture, etc. I always start to fall in love with a language by learning more about its history and culture. It’s how I fell in love with English, French, and Spanish. But this past year, I didn’t look at the Spanish culture anymore (‘cause you know, despising the language and all). This changed with the guided tours through Salamanca, it sparked that fire of wanting to learn about the culture again. So, I recommend to, once in a while, look something up that interests you about the culture and history of the language.

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    Go party / Listen to music
    Going out isn’t my thing. I always feel like I’m socially incapable when I go out, so most of the time I don’t do it. Which was fine by me. Luckily, I have some friends from school who do like to go out and who pushed me to go out with them the last evening we were still in Salamanca. (Shout out to you guys. X) We went out to a bar they had already discovered and which played mostly Spanish music. I gotta admit, for the first time ever, I liked going out and up until now I still listen to the music from that bar on a regular basis, it reminds me of that moment, and I can link some positive thoughts and memories to the language.

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    Talk to people who speak the language you don’t like
    During this trip, a classmate and I stayed in a wonderful host family which consisted of two Italians, one Finn and our host mother. She only spoke Spanish so we were obliged to do the same (unless I didn’t know something in Spanish, then I asked the Italians to translate ;p). Even though it didn’t go super smoothly, I was still able to communicate with everyone in Spanish. I even interviewed our host mother completely in Spanish as a task for school. By meeting amazing people and only talking a specific language to them, you can link those people you personally know and adore to the language. It’ll help you remind yourself that you are learning the language to communicate with them, as well as all the other people you don’t yet know but will get to know by speaking the language.

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    Discover the gastronomy
    Every country has its own delicious gastronomy which I always like to discover. By eating out, you’ll be forced to ask the waiter what you want in that language. At first, it’ll be a bit hard ‘cause you don’t like to speak in the language. But I’m sure that, after a few glasses of delicious ‘Vino tinto de Rioja’ together with a few slices of ‘Jamon Ibérico’, you’ll be happy to ask the waiter more of those delicious treats. And if you ever feel down again at home because you had to struggle studying the language, just go and buy yourself some of that delicious food or drinks.

Tip 5: eat and drink as if our life depends on it (which it does...)

Sometimes, you just have to give something a second chance. And when you do, a whole other world might open in front of you.

Tips 4 & 5: last dinner together with our host family.

If you have any more tips or tricks, leave them in the comments!

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