Why I’m not leaving Latin America until I’m fluent in Spanish

fluent in Spanish

Our Mexican Adventure is off to a great start. One thing that I’m really looking forward to while we’re here is becoming fluent in Spanish, but being immersed might be the only way I can fully grasp the language. For Fel it was easy since she learned the language while she was still in diapers. For me it’s a bit different.

Why Spanish?

Before meeting Fel, I could only speak English and I had no desire to learn any other language. Back in Canada, I had ‘learned’ French in highschool. But if you asked me what I remember from class, all I can say is “Est-ce que je peux aller aux toilette?”(May I go to the bathroom?). So I had it stuck in my head that while I was good at other things, learning languages was not one of them.

But then I met Felicia. I would hear her speaking Spanish at home and on the phone and suddenly I now had the urge to understand the language.

So where do you start to learn a new language?

You’d probably say, “Well, what about Fel? Why didn’t she just teach you Spanish?” When I first started, we were both working 10-12 hour days. Coming home tired and trying to practice Spanish with each other isn’t exactly the best formula for a great relationship.

So instead I started at the library. I would take out generic books for beginner Spanish and was committed to learning as much as I could. These books were very informative but I found myself wanting to have a nap every time I picked one up.

I thought to try something more engaging so I turned to the software Rosetta Stone. It was great at first but then I realized how slow and agonizing it can be. After a month of doing it every day I was fed up with repeating the same things over and over again. Determined to make faster progress, I threw in the towel and kept searching.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Months went by without learning a thing and one day while watching YouTube videos I stumbled across a video that was 90% advertisement and 10% informative. It was describing something called the Pimsleur Method. The idea here is to forget about the reading and grammar: the first thing a beginner should do is start speaking the language. They have an audio-based method that puts you into conversations right away. Each lesson is 30 minutes and for the first month I was doing 2 a day.

Fluent in Spanish

Within a week I noticed a definite improvement. I was feeling hopeful and felt like I was accomplishing something. So I continued religiously and have been doing at least 1 lesson a day for the last 2 months. Out of a total of 120 lessons for Spanish, and I had finished 80 before heading south. I arrived in Mexico with a good foundation and now I’m confident that speaking Spanish is not just a dream anymore.

Practicing in Mexico

We’ve been in Mexico for two weeks now and again I’ve noticed a drastic increase in my ability to chat with locals. I can communicate on a very basic level now but still have trouble understanding conversations that are more complex, especially when spoken quickly.

We are not affiliated with the Pimsleur Method audio lessons in any way so I am recommending them solely on my experience. If you’re looking to learn a new language this way, check your local library for these audio lessons before running out to buy them. There’s always the torrent approach if you are looking to download for free (and at your own risk). Otherwise, it’s about $100 per unit which includes 30 lessons.

The progress I’ve made in the last few months has given me confidence that just about anyone can learn a language. I have no doubt that within six months or less, I’ll be speaking Spanish fluently and that’s when we’ll be ready to leave Latin America in search of the next adventure.

More updates to come! What language-learning methods work for you? Let us know below.

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