The most heard excuse: “I have no talent for languages‘.
Neither have I – and I speak 5 (and I forget the day of the week, or the name of my street).
I always found that there’s no such thing as a talent for languages. The only thing that exists is: a talent for self motivation.
The easiest way to learn a language, is to find the right motivational triggers. Once you’re motivated, things go 5 times as fast. Or if you love a specific culture, 100 times as fast.
This is an article about happy chemicals and how to create them.
When I see my colleagues in the office, all busy with learning a new language, positivity and enthusiasm are the qualities most needed to be good at just about anything, and that also applies to learning a language – and completely so when that language is Spanish:
For it’s a language that oozes and triggers positivity and enthusiasm.
Spanish exudes warmth and passion, clarity and rhythm, it can sound like castanets, a Spanish guitar, like finger snapping, or the melancholy of an extremely hot afternoon under a tree.
It’s flamenco, tango and rumba in itself.
You have definitely never really argued as a couple until you have in Spanish! (Put the fun and the art back in the disagreement: do it in Spanish).
If you are among those whose mindset puts up blockades after obstacle after hurdle: here are the tactics my colleagues and I use:
1. Spark the fuse
Write, learn, memorize, practise… one single spectacular phrase.
One single phrase that will instantly wow everyone.
It will make the person you use it with laugh, surprised, proud: it makes you unforgettable, and triggers a treatment totally different from the ‘just another tourist’.
In short, it’s a boost for yourself and the fun factor of learning a language.
And that’s a propeller unlike any other: it changes your thoughts from thinking about it as hard and chore-like, to one that it’s fun and life changing.
What about: “I am sorry, I have not completely mastered the language of Cervantes“?
In Spanish: “Lo siento, no tengo un completo dominio de la idioma de Cervantes”
Not only does that show intent, that you are willing to struggle in order to please the other, it also shows knowledge of and respect for the culture. And instead of studying, it turns into a fun hobby.
Obviously, you will have to go for your own specific phrase, that addresses the people that you are most likely to deal with. They will then become the wind in your sails of positivity and enthusiasm.
2. Soak up the feel
Excuse: “I don’t speak the local language… I don’t need to”.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sure, not everyone needs the sales clerk to go the extra mile, the neighbour to see and help you as a soul mate in the same social fabric. Not everyone needs another treatment than the one for just-another-of-the-160-million-annual-tourists. Maybe you are perfectly happy with the commercial smile or service. Maybe you are perfectly content with the sun stroking your skin as the only extra sense of Spain that you want.
It could also be that you realise that speaking the language of the other, makes a conversation transition from mind-to-mind to heart-to-heart. That besides the sun stroking your skin, another culture comes with many other inexplicable experiences that you can only experience when you look for them.
There is not scientific study however we do notice that those who are most enthusiastic about Andalusians or working with them, are those that are able to communicate from heart to heart.
Next time your mind is exhausted and fools you for the umpteenth time into thinking “I don’t need to“… tackle it. Change your attitude in order to change theirs.
Do not say: “I do not speak Spanish“. That scores nil as an introduction or as an apology. You would never introduce yourself this way in your own language.
Say: “I am really sorry, I do not speak Spanish yet, do you happen to speak English”?
It’s a small difference for you, and a huge one for the person you are talking to.
3. Monitor your second soul
Proverb: ‘To have another language is to possess a second soul’.
That’s a quote of Charlemagne.
Online you find many, many more:
“In my own language I come accross as abrupt, factual – and I notice that when I speak Spanish I become this lively, happy, even almost cuddly person”.
“For my whole life I’ve been a complete introvert. Very often I still am, especially the shy of it. And then I speak Spanish and I wonder: where does this person come from? Articulating, enjoying to pronounce and deliver a phrase and then being proud about of myself that I can do that, open, enthused to see people, attempt a move on the dance floor: like an extra window has opened in me”.
“I’m not cultured at all. Since I became mediocre in Spanish though, I very quickly went from Carmen to Don Quijote – whereas before I sort of sat in the regional area of Malaga, I seem to feel it now, as though I developed a heightened sense of awareness, a special treat to the senses, or the discovery of a sense I didn’t even know existed”.
Do you want to do the test? Start that argument with your other half: and notice just how much more precise you will be, much more clear in what exactly it is that bothers you (as well as, possibly, be a tad more expressive and passionate about it).
4. Realise how easy it is
Change many English words that end with -ent… into -ente.
Excellent – Excelente
Different – Diferente
There you go, you just learned 120 words. That wasn’t difficult, was it?
And do not forget: every Wednesday evening we have our free ‘Spanish conversation sessions’ in Guaro at 6PM. Just walk into the village and ask for ‘La Parra’ at the Plaza.
There are a few shortcuts to happiness, and learning a new language is one of them.
So what if this means a struggle of 4 hours to memorise some basics?
Your future self will be very grateful you did.