When I went to university I chose a sandwich course, one that allowed me to spend two years abroad in Madrid. That course was to change my life in a way I hadn’t expected. It opened me up to learning, a language, culture, traditions and enabled me to fall in love with travel, and a new country.
I ad always wanted to learn spanish to reconnect to my Cuban and Puerto Rican lost heritage through language so ensured I opted for the least popular option at school. French was more popular back then so out Spanish class was tiny. I did ok but I never grasped what it meant to sustain a conversation as most learning was carried out in English. By the time I started university I was not bilingual, I could barely string a sentence together but I did know about certain spanish authors which wasn’t very helpful when we had to look for a place to live and start to get by in Spanish.
Our course meant we were thrown in a class with French, Germans, Dutch and the following term Spanish. Most of those European counterparts were bilingual and the subjects we were studying in Spanish were topics like Law and Accountancy in Spanish. Needless to say I was very lost for the first term, very apply to embrace Madrid nightlife and had a wake up call during resist and started to figure things out a bit more. The wiser among us had befriended the Germans and accumulated notes but others had to struggle along with a scant set and decipher as we went along.
I could go on and on about my experience but the main point I want to make is that living, working and learning abroad enabled my language learning to soar. Hearing the language and doing activities in it enabled me to gain confidence and start to speak it. Along the way I am hoping for my own children to have those experiences and soon the eldest may embark in some time in Spain without me to give him that push. The younger one at some point will start a Saturday school and hopefully make friends which is shown to provide a need for the language and will aid him more opportunity to speak.
I would love to find my kids some other activities they can do in Spanish close to home like learnt to play tennis but for now we will see what this summer brings.