Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Breaking through the language barrier

The last few weeks, I've been feeling quite frustrated about my Spanish. Don't get me wrong, my Spanish has improved tenfold since I got here - principally due to the fact that before I was responding to everyone in French. However, I still feel quite tongue-tied, mainly answering in sis, nos, buenos and no entiendos and generally appearing quite dim. To say the least, my banter is appalling in Spanish.

How apt. Image via Geoffrey Kehrig

I cannot thank Colombians enough for being patient with my broken Spanish. Furthermore, in Medellin, I am having the opposite problem that I had in Paris - I am constantly speaking in Spanish. I think this is one of the main reasons for my frustration; the fact that I am trying to immerse myself in the language and I'm not seeing the payoff.

Being both my worst critic and impatient is probably not the best combination for language learning. Additionally, I should probably accept that language learning is a continous process and no matter how fluent I become in Spanish, I will never be a native speaker. But not being fluent is not an option. The common theory is that if you dream in the language, then you're on the right path. My theory is that when I start understanding how to use colloquialism and maybe dropping a few cheeky f-bombs or at least feeling at ease with the language then that will be my breakthrough. I've still got a bit to go yet.

Luckily, I've still have 2 months left so fingers crossed, I find a way around my language learning conundrum. Apologies for the self-centred rant, I just had a few things to get off my chest and I have found that writing it down helps!

Have you hit a barrier learning languages? What are your tips to help you through it?


  1. I feel your pain. I was the same with the French slipping out. Now I've spent so long in South America, I immediately want to chat in Spanish whenever I'm abroad. Good luck getting to the stage where you can be vulgar :)

  2. I can relate - I live in L.A., so I should be putting all of my Spanish to good use on a daily basis, but it's so intimidating because Spanish here is spoken so fast. I've started taking lessons on You can even record yourself reading scripts in Spanish and get rated by native speakers. Anyway, be patient with yourself!

    1. Thanks for the tip Dana! Things have got a lot better here and whilst I'm still not fluent, speaking comes a lot quicker now. Unfortunately, patience is not a virtue that I take to easily!