The experience of learning Spanish is unique and more than useful. Since it is the second most spoken language, today due to the break out of the jolly Latin music in the world (who haven’t dance “Despacito” the last years) and the mandatory holidays in Spain and Latin America. For those who have the desire of learning this pleasing language face the challenge of gaining a new knowledge that might takes years. However, as a guide and inspiration, we interviewed Kellie Rock who tells us how he studied it and how he accelerated the learning process. Then if she could… Why not you?
1 Why did you choose to study Spanish and not another language?
In high school, we were only offered Spanish or French classes. I thought that Spanish would be more useful because there are more Spanish speakers living in the U.S., and I thought it would be interesting to visit Central/South America someday.
2 How was your learning process? Did you take classes were you self-taught? If were classes: Private ones or group lessons? Did you start with grammar, listening, vocabulary or reading? And finally, what is the most fun and boring part of learning?
I started with very basic classes in my public high school. We didn’t learn very much – just the basics of grammar and vocabulary. The lessons included reading, writing, and a few listening and speaking exercises. We would be assigned grammar exercises for homework, and take tests to measure our knowledge. Personally, I found this pretty boring. I forgot a lot of the vocabulary and grammar I memorized for the tests because I wasn’t using them regularly.
After high school, I went to university and continued to take Spanish classes. In order to get more practice speaking outside of the classroom, I volunteered at a local Mexican community centre as a community organizer and English teacher. This was really energizing because I was able to use my basic language abilities to help my community.
During university, I spent one semester studying abroad in Ecuador, taking classes and living with a host family. This was the most exciting and effective way to learn. I was totally immersed and able to put into practice everything I was learning in my classes. I also learned a lot about Latin American authors and Ecuadorian culture. I think that language and culture are intricately connected, so the cultural aspect can’t be ignored when learning a new language.
3 What is the most challenging part of learning Spanish?
I think that gaining confidence in speaking is one of the most challenging aspects of learning Spanish. You have to be okay with making lots of mistakes, and not always being able to express yourself exactly as you would in your native language. As an English speaker, it has also been challenging getting used to gendered words in Spanish. I still make mistakes sometimes!
4 What PERSONAL tactics do you use to improve your learning?
I like to watch TV shows and documentaries in Spanish, sometimes with subtitles, to keep my listening skills sharp and learn new words. I also keep a vocabulary list on a note on my phone. Whenever I’m out and about and I learn a new word or phrase, I type it into the list on my phone so I can study it later.
5 What do you do to remain fluent in Spanish?
I moved to a Spanish-speaking country! Even living in Guatemala, I have to make an effort to keep learning new words and practising. Lots of people around me speak English, so it’s easy to just get stuck in an English-speaking bubble and not use as much Spanish. But with a little bit of effort, I find myself in lots of social and professional situations where I can continue learning Spanish every day.
Interviewer: Claudia Corina Cejas