I’ve done several blog posts on my language journey to being a polyglot. One of the reasons for coming to Spain as an expat was to improve my Spanish skills. Before arriving, I also studied Portuguese and Russian. Although I did decide to hold off on Russian for the time being. When arriving in Barcelona, I was shocked at how much I overestimated my Spanish skills. Now, months into my time here, I’m disappointed in my lack of progress in my language journey.
Insecurities Holding Me Back
Most people say children are better at learning languages. But I’ve heard counter arguments that refute that claim. However, what children do have on most of us is that they’re not afraid of failing or looking dumb. They will make mistakes and practice freely until they perfect the language. Adults, especially more introverted and shy ones like myself, can be completely opposite.
In the beginning, I didn’t want to speak at all in public and speaking around my host family daunted me. I actively avoided places where I’d have to speak to people because I already had so many awkward moments within the first couple weeks. While that fear has subsided a bit, it’s not gone and it has made me fear failure.
I still get nervous speaking with my host family or going into stores or out in the streets when the conversation doesn’t flow how I expect. For example, I am comfortable asking what I want, where something is, etc. But if the cashier tries to make small talk or if someone asks for help with something, I freeze and get so nervous. At this point it’s been several months living here and I expected to be speaking a lot more confidently and smoothly than I am.
Instead of motivating me, it almost paralyzed me. I am now self conscious of my lack of progress and feel uncomfortable speaking because I feel like I should be better. Strange, right? Months ago I spent hours with a new friend and spoke entirely in Spanish and it went fine. That was a real confident booster and the best I’ve spoken – even more than around my host family! But the thought of doing that again seems scary and almost impossible.
No formal practice
One thing I began doing was taking classes via teachers found on iTalki (as well as talk to people on iTalki). Due to time and money constraints, I haven’t been able to do that. Typically I’m not as nervous when doing lessons because I’m paying for it, so I suppose I don’t feel like I’m wasting their time.
Typically I try to give tips, insight, or something helpful in my posts. This is kind of just a vent session. I’ve heard people talking about hitting a wall at times and having to push through the intermediate level wall before advancing. But it’s hard and sucks to feel like you’re not improving on a goal you set for yourself. Additionally, I haven’t had time for Portuguese either so I know my skills have regressed in that language also.
I do see some improvements, such as my comprehension has greatly improved. Plus, I now understand some Catalan. But I really want to get back on the right path with my language learning and start to feel more comfortable speaking Spanish. My language journey hasn’t been smooth or easy, but it’s still in progress.