Thoughts, reflections, and ideas

I struggle learning languages

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Languages are not my speciality. I’ve tried my best but still struggle a lot when I have to use a language other than mine. Apart from Spanish (my mother tongue), I know English which use daily at work, in online interaction and everything I share. After all the years studying English at the school, when I had to really use the language I felt like if all the grammar I had learnt wasn’t useful enough because I didn’t know how to use the language itself. I knew how to use the past tense, the future, modals, conditionals, report speech, the verb to be (which luckily was the first theory point every year…).

As soon as you travel abroad you figure out how important is learning languages and communication in general. You meet new people, you can share your thoughts and also give your opinion. Someone from Thailand and you can understand each other because you have something in common, the language. I’m currently living in Berlin, and as you might guess, not everyone knows English. You have to face awkward situations where you don’t understand each other. That made me seriously rethink the importance of learning German or any other language.

Every day I use the English I struggle at it. When I have to talk to my workmates at SoundCloud, when I tweet something, when I want to expose something I learnt or that I designed. The level of insecurity has been sometimes so high that I have avoided conversations in the past or trying to be a speaker in conferences because the language had to be English.

My first feeling when I speak English is, what if I commit a mistake? I struggle to build the sentences properly, to use a rich vocabulary and common English expressions but I end up committing more mistakes and pronouncing wrongly because after the first mistake my insecurity increases. Despite I try not to think about that I always fall into the same problem.

I read books in English, listen to Audiobooks (thanks to the great took Audible and podcasts), watch movies in English, even write books and articles in English. However, nothing seems to improve despite all these resources. It’s like if I haven’t found the formula to acquire that ability, or maybe I don’t practise on the right way, or I don’t invest the enough time.

I think that everything with practice can be achieved, it might be easier for some people, harder for other but with effort and commitment, I can get to that point where I can express everything in a language other than Spanish. It’s not something bad with not having that ease for ability for languages, and I have to learn not to blame myself because of it. If one day your mind is not willing to absorb more vocabulary is fine, let’s try the day after, if there are English speaker they will help you, don’t have negative feelings since they now it’s hard for you to use a language other than yours. But I think,… think too much and expectations kill me. Fears surround me.

I got very inspired with this post of Ash Furrow where he talks about how normal is struggling and how good is sharing your problems with people around you and not keeping them for yourself. That doesn’t really help

One of my main motivations for this year is going to be the language, instead of dedicate a few time every day, just a side activity, I’ll dedicate time as a main activity. I would like to improve my English as to be able to give a talk in English for a big audience. A basic german is also in the list, really helpful to avoid awkward situations and express yourself in the country where you are living and finally I’ll finally start giving my first steps with the Chinese.

Communication ability is an awesome tool. You can express, convince, transmit knowledge, sell, interact… Let’s use it properly without any fear around.

I got this book from Amazon. I’m not trying to do something magic, but see the methods other people used and try to figure out what works for me.