I’ve studied the Spanish language for a long time. After my year of kindergarten, my mother enrolled me in summer enrichment classes at elementary school. (That’s how you know your parent is a teacher. You take additional classes. Not because you need to, but because you can.) I continued to take summer Spanish classes each year until fifth grade. Sadly, Spanish classes were not offered during the school year, nor during the summer, throughout my middle school years. Once I reached high school, I continued my Spanish classes for four more years. I took a placement exam upon entering college and decided to minor in Spanish. Throw in a study abroad trip, more classes, and Spanish major and you have…a lot of years studying Spanish.
Now I am living in Spain. With all of my studying and total immersion now, I should be fluent right? Wrong. Don’t get me wrong, my Spanish has improved exponentially as a result of being here, but I’ve still much to learn. To be completely honest, I’m writing this post because this week has been a struggle. I’ve had the most difficult time understanding simple things. Someone says something, and I have no idea what he or she is talking about. After frantically typing the words into my translator, I feel like an idiot. What is happening? To quote David after his trip to the dentist, “Why is this happening to me?!”
I have several other friends who are living in Spain right now, and their social media messages have echoed my same sentiments.
“Ugh! This week, my brain straight up gave up!”
“I feel like my Spanish skills are at a stand still…”
“…I try to speak Spanish sometimes, people look at me like I’m a crazy person”
At least I’m not the only one. I’m hoping that this will pass. What can I do to speed along the process? I began researching to see if there’s a specific cause for this problem or when it falls on the timeline of learning another language. I couldn’t find anything. However, what I did find was very helpful. The article What to do when you hit a plateau in your language studies, by Camden Luxford, has some very helpful tips for those wishing to become fluent in another language. Among these tips are, reviewing the fundamentals, utilizing flashcards, reading as much in the target language as you can, learning another language, setting a goal for yourself, and making sure that those around you continue to correct your speech.
It’s reassuring to know that other people have plateaued in their language studies, and that there are ways to overcome it. So bring it on reflexive verbs, personal pronouns and indirect objects. I’m ready.
“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.” – Voltaire