Don’t judge, but I’ve been living on Gran Canaria for almost two years now (April 21st is my GC anniversary) and I don’t speak a word of Spanish. Yes, I can say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, in formal and informal ways. I can order a glass of wine, even specify the color and flavor (important things first, right?). But when I ask about someone’s wellbeing, I actually don’t really know how to respond to the counter question if the answer is something other than ‘good’.
That’s why January, the month in which I live up to the commandment Never to Stop Learning, is dedicated to learning Spanish. Or at least, to start learning Spanish. Because this will be an ongoing proces throughout the year #pinkypromise.
Take Spanish lessons
Do my homework
Make additional efforts daily
Take Spanish Lessons
Learning a new language, even if you’re fully emerged in and surrounded by that language, is not necessarily easy for everyone. In fact, I think it fully depends on the type of person you are, whether or not being fully emerged and surrounded by a language helps you learn it faster. In my case, it has made me feel overwhelmed, anxious and shy. I think I would’ve done a much better job learning Spanish if I had done so in The Netherlands, in a class. With books. In fact, my Latin and Ancient Greek are better than my Spanish. And I didn’t learn those languages by time-traveling to Antiquity (would’ve loved to, though).
It took me way too long (almost two years, in fact) to realize that, whatever people say about how I’d supposedly pick up Spanish in no time if I’m forced to speak it, that’s just not how it works for me. Without any knowledge of the basics, I don’t pick up Spanish simply from doing it. I don’t remember a word I hear, if I don’t know how its spelled. I don’t remember a verb, if I’ve never learned its conjugation. In short, I don’t learn a single thing, if I have no mental framework to process the new information with.
So, January is the month in which I’ll start taking Spanish lessons. Twice a week a two-hour class, for at least six weeks.
Do My Homework
I imagine these classes to be somewhat like my before-mentioned Latin and Greek classes. If so, that means I’ll have to tackle my homework straight away after class in order to 1) get it out of the way before I find a million reasons why it would be better to do it lastminute before the next class, and 2) be able to make sense of my notes.
They say analog note takers score way better than digital note takers — a theory I’ve tested and affirmed in my university days — so that’s what I’ll do. From experience, I also know it works best to type up my written notes afterwards (in a more orderly manner) and research all questions that may rise. Only when that’s done, I’ll do whatever homework I got assigned.
Make Additional Efforts Daily
Anyone who read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg knows this: habits are created by repeating the same activity over and over again, until your brain can do it on automatic pilot. When you can do something on auto pilot, you don’t have to think about it anymore, it becomes effortless. My new habit is to learn some new Spanish on a daily basis. To do a little extra, every day, next to my homework assignments. That way I’ll hopefully turn this into a habit that will last until long after my classes are done.
Examples of Additional Efforts are: learning an X amount of new words (update: I actually decided to make this a new habit), watching an episode of a Spanish series with Spanish subtitles, reading an article in a Spanish magazine, etc. The internet is full of fun suggestions!
I didn’t wanna read a book specifically about language learning. I figured, if you want to read along with me, you may have totally different goals when it comes to Never Stop Learning. Therefore, I chose a book for this month that supposedly helps putting all personal-growth books into perspective. Into a framework, so to speak — which may just be my new favorite word. A book that teaches you how to do the how’s, in every area of your life that you want to improve.
Of course I’m talking about Jeff Olson’s highly praised The Slight Edge. I’m kinda allergic to books promising you success in all aspects of life, but this one sports 4.4 (out of 5) stars on Goodreads and has supposedly changed the lives of hundreds, thousands of readers. There must be something to learn there, right?
Photo: Mercadona parking with ‘salida’ (‘exit’) sign
Around the end of January, I’ll review this book as well as my experiences during this first month of The Happiness Project. If you’re doing a Happiness Project, or wrote up some resolutions for the new year, let me know in the comments!