Language learner again..

I have lived in the UK for almost a year now and the constant processing that my brain had to do with the German language when I lived in Germany has stopped. Even though I still have German lessons, it's very different to actually living there and needing to use the language on a daily basis. It was therefore interesting to go to a country where I don't speak the language well. Spain. I last spoke any Spanish about 15 years ago when I went on a week long intensive course there. I have a GCSE (a qualification that people usually do when they are 16, I did mine in my 20s) in Spanish but I haven't use it since my course. I looked in my old Spanish books to prepare for the trip but I didn't feel that I had much Spanish is my 'working memory' that I can use instantly when I talk. Fast forward the trip. The first thing to note is that the language felt very 'familiar'.  I recognised lots of words but didn't know what they all meant. I also didn't seem to feel the reluctance to talk, that I remembered from my first time learning Spanish. If I needed something, then I tried to talk to someone about it. This was a big help as I was able to quickly find things out. For example, "where is the supermarket? " It wasn't obvious from the shop front and I would have missed it. People were also very patient and willing to help. Lots of Spanish words are similar to English ones, which helped especially when reading signs when driving. This led me to thinking about tips for English language learners.

- be prepared to speak and make mistakes. This comes with practice but it does happen. Don't give up!
- try and work out words which are similar in your language which can help you although beware of 'false friends'. "Handy" in German is a mobile phone, 'handy' in English means convenient to use
- if one person is not helpful, don't be put off and ask another.
- get some simple phrases that you can rely on in speaking situations such as "where is..?", "do you have..?", basics such as "please" and "thank you" and "excuse me". Basic nouns such as "toilets" and ones specific to your trip such as "surfing" are also helpful.

Have fun speaking English!


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