Learning a language can seem impossible. In the past, I have tried to use programs like Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish, but it never really stuck with me. I could remember ‘Hola,’ but that was about it.
In the past three weeks, that has all changed. In a short time, I have gone from embarrassing sign-language conversations with concierges about getting extra shampoo to having a two hour conversation in Spanish. On Thursday, I was even able to summarize the first two seasons of Breaking Bad for my (very patient) girlfriend in broken Spanish.
How could I make such a leap? There is one reason: immersion. It is very difficult to get a grip on the language if you are not experiencing it. You won’t have perfect grammar or vocabulary to start, but you will start to get a hold on it much faster than trying to learn in a classroom.
The beauty of immersion today is that you don’t have to travel to immerse yourself. Thousands of Spanish songs and podcasts are at your fingertips, and Netflix now offers many of their popular shows and movies with Spanish audio. You can easily surround yourself with content in that language, and you’ll be surprised with how fast you catch on to the language.
It is also important to communicate with native speakers, most of whom are friendly and constructive when you make mistakes. If you can get through one or two embarrassing conversations, you start to improve. Speaking in that language starts to become fun!
Another great tool, which I have written about before, is Duolingo. Since August, I have used Duolingo to build vocabulary. When I started to get serious about speaking in that language, I realized how valuable that vocabulary practice has been.
Learning a language is actually fun and easy if you can immerse yourself in that language. Find a native speaker, watch your favorite show in your target language, and practice vocabulary on Duolingo. Quickly you will be able to hold conversation in that language!