I was going to move to Spain once…
A few years ago, I was offered a job based in Palma, Majorca. I loved the city, had visited several times and started to dream of siestas and lying by the pool after work grazing on delicious Spanish food. Only one thing stood in the way – my grasp of Spanish wasn’t particularly good so I decided to take a Spanish language course in Spain.
In preparation, I listened to Michel Thomas learn Spanish CD’s which, once you get past his annoying voice and get used to his unique style of teaching where one student always gets it wrong and the other is the top of the class then they are pretty good teaching aids. I felt quite confident on my first day in Malaga.
I should have said I was a complete beginner not a beginner, my confidence was misplaced and after the first hour in class I felt close to tears. I felt like the stupid one from the Michel Thomas CD’s – no one told me they were only going to speak to me in Spanish… how was I supposed to know what they were saying and why did everyone else seem to know what was going on?
Somehow I managed to get through the first morning where I promptly ran out of the classroom to pour over my dictionary and grammar books to try and sense of the morning’s lesson. I’d arranged to have lunch with a friendly American girl from the class who was also travelling alone spending 5 weeks learning Spanish.
Over tapas I confessed how traumatised I was, turns out she felt the same which made me feel a little less stupid. We then spent the afternoon wandering around town trying out our few words of Spanish on poor unsuspecting shop keepers and in cafes and after a few hours studying the dictionary over coffee and cakes we felt ready to face the next lesson.
The next morning was a little better and after the coffee break, something seemed to click and I found myself tuning in and really starting to follow the conversation rather than just smiling a lot to cover up the fact that I had no idea what was going on. I was eager to get out of class and start bothering those shop keepers and cafe owners again to see how much I’d really learnt.
A group of us went for dinner that night and we explained we’d like to practice our Spanish. The waitress was very patient and after a few bottles of wine, we suddenly all became very confident in our abilities and couldn’t wait for class in the morning.
Days 3-5 saw the group going from strength to strength with one girl managing to leap into the next class up she was doing so well. I was getting through my homework with relative ease and found that living in Spain whilst studying really helped me pick up vocabulary and put my lessons into practice every day outside of the classroom.
I’d had an amazing week, I met some great people, had fun and was confident enough to approach strangers and blurt out my new found Spanish. It was rough and awkward, and strewn with horrible grammatical gaffes, but I’d come a long way in just a few days.
I never did move to Spain but that’s another story….