As some of you may know, I’ve challenged myself to accomplish 30 of my travel dreams while I’m 30, which is between now and February 12, 2018. I’ve called this quest the #Anydaysgood project” and one of the items on my list is to learn a language abroad, in a country where that language is spoken.
Education First, a company that offers language learning trips, asked me why that’s something I want to do. I’ve written for them in the past and, apparently, they’ve been following my adventures. As I figured it’s something you might want to know as well, I thought I’d spell it out in a post.
Few people know that some Belgian high schools offer the option to take Spanish classes instead of German classes when you’re in a language focused program and that’s exactly what I did. Unfortunately, it’s also what the majority of students did and as our Spanish teacher wasn’t great and couldn’t control 30 teenagers, we only learned the basics. Those who took German, however, left high school fluent in the language.
But I wasn’t ready to give up on Spanish just yet. Somehow I seemed to have a knack for it (contrary to French, in which I have the worst accent) and so when I went off to university to study Literature and Linguistics, I opted for a combination of Dutch and Spanish.
While this allowed me to dig deep into the language’s structure, conversational practice was still lacking. L&L is a mostly theoretical study course and we only very briefly had a few hours of Spanish conversation classes, which wasn’t nearly enough to become fluent.
I traveled to Spain on an almost yearly basis at the time and so I did get some practice but as those trips were replaced by others, my knowledge of the language diminished. I still understand quite a lot, but I think I’d only be able to utter the most basic of phrases if someone were to speak to me in Spanish right now.
I love being able to understand everything and to speak different languages and so I always said I’d improve my Spanish again “someday”. You know how it goes. Enter the #Anydaysgood project!
Learning Spanish during #Anydaysgood
When I came up with the #Anydaysgood project, I knew one of the items on my list had to be to learn a language and to actually learn it while speaking it as well, not just in a classroom. While I’d also like to learn German and Italian, it made more sense to choose for Spanish as I have that base already and still think it’s a beautiful language.
So the next question was where and how? I could take traditional classes, join an immersion program or simply go live with a host family either in Spain or somewhere in South America. At the moment, I’d like to go to Spain for at least two weeks to take classes there in the morning and go out exploring in the afternoon, hopefully while meeting and talking with some locals.
I’ve got my eye set on Seville, a city where it’s still nice and warmish in winter (I’m thinking of going in December) and where I’ve only ever spent a couple of hours.
So what do you think? Have you ever traveled abroad to learn a language? How did it go?