From Saturday to Saturday of this coming week, Brendan and I will be in Cuernavaca for a week of full Spanish immersion. We’re staying with a local family, and we’ll have 6 hours of formal Spanish instruction/conversation each day.
I have high hopes for immersion — probably way too high. Most native English speakers I know who are now bilingual went to weeks and weeks (if not months and months or years and years) of immersion before reaching fluency. Sigh. Being a working couple, we can’t really practically do that. Long gone are the days of having more than one week to do anything that doesn’t involve work.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do in my entire life is learn a new language. While incredibly good for me, lordy, I wish I had learned these things as a child. So if you’ve got young’uns, don’t wait until high school: When it comes to learning languages, the earlier, the better. They’ll thank you later, as they set off to explore new countries and new cultures with a second language under their belt. Adult brains just aren’t wired to be as receptive to new patterns of thinking, hearing, reading and speaking.