Immersion goes a long way
Staying on the path of learning a new language is always a challenge. The first two times I decided to enroll in a Spanish course back home I ended up dropping out after taking a handful of classes. When the third try came around, I knew I had to find a way to not get distracted. By signing up for a course abroad I reframed my goal; it was now something much more alluring than saying no to after work drinks to repeat grammar structures in a fluorescent-lit class. I was not only going to learn Spanish; the goal was now learning Spanish in Barcelona.
After finding the course that suited my needs and enrolling, I felt every step I took was a step in the right direction. And once I got there, the feeling magnified. Just by making my way to class I was in contact with the language. The whole reason for the trip was to learn Spanish, which I was definitely doing, and every bit of said trip was helping the cause. Nothing feels better than achieving a long-standing goal while having a great time.
The Real Deal
One thing I found especially rewarding was being able to start using a decent version of the language I so wanted to speak. Learning Spanish in Barcelona allowed me to start speaking Spanish more like the “well-traveled international man of mystery” I envision myself as and less like the “robot child that learned some phrases at Mrs. Wilson’s 3rd grade after school Spanish class”.
Learning from locals in real settings guarantees that you’re in touch with the natural twists of language that no textbook can teach you. The fact that you are actually living the situations in which said a language is used helps the lessons you take to set in – you’re using what you learn in class right off the bat. Nothing beats that.
More than a course: an experience
Although it’s the little things that really give satisfaction (knowing how to order a beer without sounding like a proper tourist, for example); Truth is that being able to feature Spanish in my CV has drawn quite a bit of attention when looking out for opportunities. After answering a couple instances of the typical recruiter question of “How come you speak Spanish?” with a story of the time I decided to pack my bags and go for it has made me realize that what I got, in the end, was much more than means to learn a language.
The actual experience of learning Spanish in Barcelona gave me more than a decent command of a language spoken by more than 500 million people across the globe. It helped me grow more confident in my skills. I don’t think I would have achieved any of that if I had stuck with after work classes.