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The Hunt Is Here

Language learning is a blend of spontaneity and planning. What better way to complement its complex nature by completing a scavenger hunt?  Plan your adventure and then enjoy all of the random experiences you’ll have along the way. The Hunt Is Here article is the perfect blend of cultural immersion, self-discovery and language acquisition for the eager language learner!  After reading the article, feel free to message us or leave a comment telling us about one unforgettable experience you had while traveling in your target region.

Zero Budget Language Learning

Language learning is a huge investment, but it doesn’t have to cost you a kidney! Think about it, how much money have you spent learning your target language? Combine the costs of applications, tutors, notebooks and everything in between, can you give us a price? Well even if you can, hold that thought- language learning is a priceless journey, so price shouldn’t necessarily matter. The important thing is that at the end of the journey you’re successful. However, as I said earlier – it doesn’t have to cost you an arm or a leg.

In this article, we’ll be discussing a zero-dollar budget language learning program and how you can get just as much benefit from it as a normal language learning routine.

 

Survival Tactics

Now obviously there are thousands of things to be considered when talking about surviving in another country. Some of these things won’t be learned before you make the move, so learning what is essential to you and having a plan before you arrive would be best. It takes a substantial amount of confidence and knowledge to get things going in when you arrive in your target country. It’s a big jump to make in terms of culture, lifestyle and habits, but that’s what makes it all the more worthwhile. This article will be about surviving in your target language country. Well let me not use the word surviving, it’s just that there are certain things you should be able to do before making the great migration to your target language country.

 

Karaoke Madness 🎶

We talked about Singing In The Shower, but what about Karaoke Madness? In this article, we take singing to a new, lively, bright atmosphere to bolster your language learning journey! Be prepared to scream, shout and let it all out by the end of this article.  Picture this image; You’re looking at a flashing screen lit up with words in your target language, there are strobe lights pulsating in your pupils and your friends are shouting at the top of their lungs trying to hit that note nobody would even dare to achieve. You’re going to walk away with something if not a headache by the end of the night.  Read it here!

 

A Spanish Language Learner’s Journey To Fluency

Hi, I am Leah, an English Teacher from Los Angeles and I want to share my story of learning Spanish with you! I have been studying Spanish since high school but did not really start communicating in the language until living abroad in Spain. Read about my struggles and successes with Spanish — I also include my 5 top tricks for language learning!   

 

Learning Spanish For Six Years But Still a Newbie?

“Hola! Que tal?

“…er…estoy…bien?”

That was about the gist of the initial conversations I had during my first several months in Madrid, Spain. It was not as if I had arrived out-of-the-blue, on the whim to learn Spanish. About 6 years of Spanish lessons trailed behind me as I walked around Puerta de Sol. Yet those years of textbook teaching and vocabulary quizzes never really led to stringing together casual phrases.

 

My High School Years: Is Spanish Maths or a Language?

In high school, Spanish was treated as a mathematical equation, in the sense that we memorized the structures of the language rather than practicing spoken words on our tongues. Every day in the classroom was the same. We warmed up with a 15-word vocabulary quiz (which everyone always began studying for five minutes before the bell) and then would go straight to the textbook to learn a new grammatical structure.

The class finished with some exercises in the workbook to practice and bring home for homework. All explanations and instructions, of course, were given together in English. Let’s just say that no one in the class walked out fluent in Spanish.

 

 

My College Years: Spanish Literature opened my Eyes!

While in college, I took Spanish courses more out of an obligation to complete the graduation requirements than a desire to continue studying the language. My disinterest towards languages changed upon my first college course in Spanish; an introduction to Spanish literature, which incorporated literature, art museums, cultural movements, and discussions (albeit brief, but there were legitimate question and response exchange).

Suddenly, Spanish stopped seeming like a series of equations and became a method of communications. Spanish was spoken from beginning to end as we studied Lorca, Neruda, and Allende.  

However, three hours a week of classroom-oriented speaking was not enough to be immersed in the language. I craved more — to go exactly where Cervantes scribbled and Dali painted, and be surrounded by Spanish for all hours of the clock.  

Madrid, here I come – and facing reality!

After graduating from college, I confidently hopped on the plane to Madrid to spend the year teaching English at a Spanish primary school. Knowing I could read, write, and understand Spanish, I had high expectations at being able to quickly pick up the speaking part of the language. The expectations quickly diminished as my stumbling, mumbling tongue blocked my way from actively participating in a friendly conversation. In the beginning, even just explaining my background and decision to live in Spain was a difficulty, when most people are easiest talking about themselves.

 

 

Leave the House & Talk! How I Overcame The Speaking Barrier

My difficulty in maintaining conversation was a mix of lack of confidence and lack of speaking practice. Yet, when I wanted to practice, people would often switch to English in the attempt to put me at ease (which of course, only aggravated me further). My desire to practice was often crippled by my unease in speaking a second language. Overcoming the contradiction took a lot of persistence and self-assurance.  Improving my Spanish was a matter of being outgoing and open to new ideas. The more I left the house to meet new people or see new sites, the greater the opportunity I had to practice.

If there was not a friend nearby, I would sit down on the terrace of a cafe looking out to the hubbub of Lavapies and order un cafe con leche y una tostada for breakfast. In beginning the day by leaving the house and ordering food in Spanish, I was more prone to continue the day speaking Spanish. And, even if the day ended in more English, I still had sipped my coffee while speaking Spanish in the morning.  

Become more fluent with my daily coffee!

As ordering became easy for me, I noticed that waiters stopped slowing down their speech or recognizing that they were speaking to a foreigner. I could confidently walk into a cafe, lean my elbows across the bar and order quickly, with a sharp “Oye,” to call attention.


I stopped hesitating, started talking and laugh about my mistakes!

Once I had my morning routine rehearsed, it also became more natural to speak to people on the street and amongst bigger groups of people. I stopped hesitating before asking for directions or help in Spanish. If I was unsure of which linea del metro to take to arrive at barrio Salamanca, I would go up to the nearest stranger and merely ask. Seeing that I could ask a question, be understood, and then understand the response left a big impression on me.

Once I realized I could talk to anyone around me in Madrid, I stopped hesitating before opening my mouth. Finally, hola, rather than hello, became a natural greeting as I crossed passerby on buses, trains, and sidewalks.

Now, two years later, the majority of my friends in Spain are Spanish-speakers and go days on end without speaking English. I still have moments of difficulty where I forget a word or conjugate a verb incorrectly, but I laugh about the mistake and move onwards in the conversation. I continue ordering my cafe con leche in the morning.

 

I learned it’s absolutely ok to make mistakes!

Being comfortable while speaking a second language does not always come naturally or suddenly. While it can be exasperating struggling in conversation months and months into living in a foreign country, it is important to remember that it is absolutely okay to make mistakes. In fact, it is human to not speak perfectly.

The world is not going to end if one mixes up a gender pronoun. If one can understand and be understood while speaking, it shows effective communication. The conversation can be carried on. Push through the difficult moments of grasping for a word and it will lead to fluidity.

 

Finally. The Five Most Important Things I Learned!

Throughout my experiences in learning Spanish, I have picked up on some tips in learning a new language:

  • Do not hesitate to ask for help — if you do not know a word, ask people to explain.
  • Be persistent in speaking the second language — tell people you are learning the language and want to practice.
  • Do your daily activities and chores in the second language — how would you order your favorite meal in another language? What about hailing a taxi or asking for directions?
  • Movies and television shows are your friends and great for practicing pronunciation and listening.
  • Be confident and speak in the second language whenever possible; do not hesitate about making mistakes.

Falling In Potholes: Mistakes and Blunders

Every language learner who has ever achieved mastery of their target language has made hundreds, possibly thousands of mistakes in their language learning journey. The thing is, it’s all part of the process and mistakes actually do more good than harm for your language skills. The Mistakes and Blunders article will teach you how to become one with your mistakes and get the most out of their shameful, embarrassing nature.

Living In The Moment

Language learning isn’t always about learning words or drilling new concepts into your brain. In fact some would even say that’s not even half of the battle. There are spontaneous moments in your language learning which exist to grant you some leeway from the textbook nature of knowledge. Living In The Moment is a momentous occasion in language learning and should be treated as such. If you wish to know how you can achieve these golden moments then follow this link: Living In The Moment

 

R.I.P Paper Dictionary

Hey Language Learners! How is your resource collection looking? We usually have a few good things going for us in our language learning journey. To name a few there are; podcasts, flashcard apps, grammar & phrasebooks, but what about the one nobody really talks about?

Paper Dictionaries

This week’s article will be questioning the existence and overall efficiency of the classic paper dictionary. So when the moment comes that you need to search up a word, just remember this article.

 

Milking Your Conversations 🥛

Have you ever milked a cow before? It’s oddly satisfying, knowing that you’re going to get every last drop of milk from its utters until it’s ready to produce more dairy goodness. What if we could apply this milking logic to language learning? What if somehow we were able to milk our conversations rather than farm animals? This week’s article is all about getting the most out of your conversations in order to further enhance your language learning experience!

 

Language Learning, Your CV & You

There are many benefits to learning a language, one happens to be that it is an amazing asset to have while searching for employment. Employers are often searching for well-equipped individuals to join their company or team, and having an extra language or two can increase your chances of sealing the deal.  Whether or not you decide to use your languages to your advantage is up to you, but there are some things you should know when applying them to situations such as job hunting. To read more about how languages can be beneficial to your career path and personal life click here!