Any language you study is difficult to learn.
The difficulty of studying grammar, practicing and understanding the conversations like a native is a process that can take time.
Many learning methods promise that in only 30 days you can learn a language, however, this is a very exaggerated claim.It is true that you can learn basic conversations in a short time, however, becoming a bilingual person can take about 3 years.
If you are about to begin this journey of learning Spanish perhaps you would like to know how difficult it is to learn. Perhaps you have imagined that the pronunciation is complicated, that is more important than grammar or speaking.
For this reason, I went to CEPE of Mexico City to look for an American student to tell us what his experience was in studying Spanish. Luckily I found a girl with a big smile and very nice person called Laurie Avery to do the interview.
Here are the questions I asked her:
- 1 Why did you decide to study Spanish?
- 2 How important is Spanish in your daily life?
- 3 How long did it take you to learn to speak it?
- 4 What parts of Spanish pronunciation do you think are more difficult for Americans?
- 5 Which topics can be difficult for an American student?
- 6 Which is more important? conversation or grammar?
- 7 How important is to you practice with native speakers to improve your learning?
- 8 What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn to speak Spanish?
Why did you decide to study Spanish?
I grew up in Texas and took high school and Spanish, but then I decided to study French in university. After I graduated, I realized I really wanted to be able to speak Spanish because there are so many Spanish-speakers in the US, especially in Texas. I also really wanted to travel and since we’re neighbors with Latin America it made sense. The reason I’m at CEPE and studying more intensely is because I want to work on immigration. About 2 years ago, I lived in Panama for about 2 months and met a lot of Cuban friends who were migrating to the US and I learned a lot from them. It was then I realized that I should learn more and do something to support people who want to enter the US.
How important is Spanish in your daily life?
In Texas, it can be more or less important. Growing up I didn’t realize how stupid it was that most people in the US only speak one language. Now that I’m older I realize how incredible it is to be able to communicate with people and be friends with people and laugh with them and a few years ago we wouldn’t have been able to communicate. Now that I live here in Mexico City, it’s obviously necessary and incredibly important to my daily life.
How long did it take you to learn to speak it?
That’s hard to say since I kept learning it off and on, but I think I felt solidified in conversation after my first 2 months in Mexico City.
What parts of Spanish pronunciation do you think are more difficult for Americans?
The rolling “r” and when it’s more subtle. Nahuatl is also incredibly different and more difficult to pronounce.
Which topics can be difficult for an American student?
I think learning about the history of Mexico because we don’t learn about it in the US, which is ridiculous. I don’t think it’s difficult in the sense that I can’t understand it, but Mexico has so many different indigenous groups and so many connections and influences from all over the world and so many events and businesses and art and people and issues and variability that it’s a lot to learn about.
Which is more important? conversation or grammar?
Probably conversation. There are so many slang words and phrases of expression that don’t follow the rules of grammar that I would prefer to be able to speak like a local when I’m in a group of people or at a party. I definitely want to know correct grammar also, especially for my future job, but conversation is more important in day to day life.
How important is to you practice with native speakers to improve your learning?
So important! I am really grateful that my Mexican friends are patient with me and will laugh with me when I make mistakes. They help me a lot with one on one practice.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn to speak Spanish?
I would tell them to be patient, but also to not be shy. I tell everyone I meet, “I speak like a baby!” because it’s true and I ask everyone to please correct my mistakes if they don’t mind. I think beginners get nervous or embarrassed, but practicing with people is the best way to learn. Making mistakes is the only way to learn, grow, and improve!
Was the interview useful?
Although it is not a survey, it can help give you a little idea of what a student is looking for when learning Spanish and some things you can do or take into account when starting.
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Is it hard to Learn Spanish?
You may want to read: Reasons Why Spanish is Important