Hopefully, I’ll Learn Something, If Not A Lot

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.

4 thoughts on “Hopefully, I’ll Learn Something, If Not A Lot

  1. MC says:

    I am in college majoring in spanish and this next semester I am taking a spanish conversation class. At the end of the semester we are taking a two week trip to Mexico in effort to be totally submerged in the language and culture. The trip is even part of my grade. Even though I won’t be totally submerged in it like you, I am looking forward to it.

  2. Zoey says:

    I guess you’re in Cuernavaca already – I hope it is going well! You’re right, it can be difficult to accomplish fluency in a language when you’re an adult with many work commitments. But I do recommend perseverance once you return! I have found that you can make a huge amount of progress in a short space of time with immersion but you then have to consider how to keep up your language level once you return to your home country. This can be one of the trickiest things. I do recommend bringing a few newspapers, magazines and even short novels back from Mexico with you. Just reading or browsing through these for 20 minutes a day will help keep you somewhat ‘in the zone’ until your next trip!

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