Thursday, 23 September 2010

The magic of learning foreign languages! A personal experience.

I'll have to take a trip down the memory lane if I want to try to recall when I first started to develop my enthusiasm for languages. I do remember spending day after day doing my best to create different kinds of writings for my Spanish Language teacher at primary school. They never seemed to be good enough for her. I suppose I was a bit of an all-rounder then. The majority of my classmates were really top of the class. So, little by little, my motivation to be someone within that classroom group started to fade away. Luckily enough, this situation only lasted for a few months until one day a supply Galician teacher stopped to have a close look at my notebook and paid me a great compliment. It was time then to turn over a new leaf. I decided to work hard not to let the Galician teacher down, as she seemed to trust both me as a person and my posibilities as a student.
It was that little bit of attention that made me want to stand out as a student. Then a third language came into action before leaving primary school. I used to love it. It was appealing to all of us. The problem arose when we started secondary school, where most students with different backgrounds whose level of the language was considerably high compared to the one me and my classmates had in our ex-school, set the pace and rhythm of the classroom and made us feel ignorant and hopeless at the target language. So, again, I went through a bad patch. It lasted till my first year at University, when I felt so useless at speaking English that I decided to take up a new foreign language; this time German. It was my best decision ever! After the first semester my level of German was by far much better than the one I had been able to achieve after so many years of Secondary Education in English. That same summer I decided to break with the past and go abroad to try to prove myself I couldn't be that hopeless at English. That summer changed everything. From that moment onwards I had the impression that I could do it. Yes, you can!, I repeated myself enthusiastically. Three years later I got top marks in all oral exams at university and what was more important, I got to understand the magic of acquiring and learning languages. To me, it's like becoming a different person with different feelings and ways of looking at the world. It certainly opened my mind. When I speak German I do forget where I come from and acquire their mentalily. The same applies for the English language. I sound much more polite and friendly when getting into the English mode. You may think I've gone nuts. Well, I haven't. It's just something I experience, that's called "international understanding and awareness". Most teachers I've had at university and after, have said it was obvious I was really gifted at languages. Well, I totally disagree. I'm not. I'm just a good actress. Teachers didn't know but my 1st of ESO students did. They were able to understand this magic, you see. And one day in class they posed the big question: "Are you really an actress, miss?". "I supppose I am", was my answer.

So, whoever you are that is reading this, even if you are convinced you cannot become proficient in a foreign language due to your age or because you feel you lack the necessary abilities, don't give up. Impossible is nothing. I strongly believe we are all gifted for languages. We just need to practice it. It's practice that makes perfect. And we practice more if we enjoy what we do. So you just need to try and you'll soon find out how funny and rewarding it is to be in the skin of many different characters. I can become a new "me" when I feel like. It's like MAGIC!