Let me tell you something: it is not harder than learning any other new subject or skill. It is not a matter of the new content we want to learn, but the learning itself and the automation of something new. It is the way our brain works. So, it is neither you nor the language to be blamed, but your human nature. We must be honest; it takes a great deal to learn WHATEVER.
‘THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION ARE BITTER, BUT THE FRUIT IS SWEET ‘
… and you know it. So, let’s turn our weaknesses into strengths! This is a fight and the most important thing is to know and understand your ‘enemy’, so you can succeed. So, what’s on with our brain?
LOVE THE ADVENTURE: FEEL YOU ARE ALIVE.
Our brain is lazy and unwilling to learn something new, as it doesn’t want to leave its comfort zone. Novelty is considered a threat and creates high levels of anxiety. It is usually frightened of the unknown. Spanish acquisition is new for your brain. That is why you have to think about learning as an adventure. Don’t worry too much about the difficulties you might find, enjoy your progress, no matter how little it might be. The unknown will be something familiar soon. You only need some time to reach your ‘safe destination’. Don’t panic, don’t pay attention to your brain, and don’t let fear stop you from doing something as wonderful as learning the Spanish language and culture.
WHEN THE AUTOMATIC PILOT IS SWITCHED OFF
This adventure starts when you have to switch off the automatic pilot. You might find it especially difficult to learn Spanish, but this is only because we have forgotten how much it took us to learn things we are doing now in an automatic way, such as writing, reading, or driving. However, you will remember it soon, if you have the chance to look at the little ones struggling with their writing, exactly the way we did once. We are very used to doing these daily, now basic, things, so we don’t have them as something challenging any longer. Think about it when learning Spanish. One day, you’ll be fluent, too.
At first, you will do it wrong, you will feel frustrated, demotivated, even sometimes embarrassed, but this is the first learning phase: Unconscious incompetence. You are doing it wrong in an unconscious way. You have no idea what you are doing.
Learning Spanish takes a great effort, as our brain is trying to avoid these new roads. It’s too used to doing those effortless automatic tasks. Then, we need to switch off the automatic pilot and change our habits, so we can leave an open door to new paths. These paths will turn into roads and those roads into highways, which will take you as far as you desire.
WORK-OUT… AND TAKE A REST
Our brain is a muscle and so, you cannot exceed your daily workout. In fact, it is advisable to slow down, cool down for a while. If you repeat something restlessly, you will remember it for sure, but how long will you remember it for? In the long run, it is also good to forget things. When we need to remember something we learned in the past, we ask our brain to make more efforts, so we are making it work harder.
I know that I know nothing, Socrates said... You are now on the second step: Conscious incompetence. You become aware of your limitations and how much you will need to work.
YOU USE IT OR YOU LOSE IT
The part in our brain called the hippocampus has a major role in learning and enhance memory, and among other functions, it is in charge of deciding what is and what is not important to keep in our brain. By repeating, in a moderate and constant manner, you are letting it know your new Spanish content is important enough to be saved for a long period.
This is the third stage: Conscious Competence. That means you are on the way! You can speak Spanish quite fluently, but you do still need to pay attention to what you are producing. Otherwise, you commit one million thousand mistakes.
WITH AGE COMES WISDOM
‘Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo’, the Spanish saying explains the devil knows a lot because he’s old.
It’s true children learn more quickly than adults, but it is not only because we are too old and our brain seems to have become a rusty engine.
Children are curious, fearless, daring, perseverant, and have tons of free time to waste the way they feel, without regretting it. They can watch the same film once and again until they learn the dialogues by heart. Yet, they are excited. They like it, they do it.
Nevertheless, you cannot only live on the food you like, but you also need what is more convenient for you. We, adults, have a powerful weapon that will defeat any obstacle our brain might lay on our way to learn Spanish: conscious capacity for effort.
We know we have to beat laziness and find out how to keep motivated to get what we pursue. So, although it might be slightly harder, we have plenty of room in our brain for new concepts, we only need to invest some more time.
And then, you will reach the fourth and last step: Unconscious competence. You have mastered the content. It is the time for that well-known ‘click on your head` that allows you to speak Spanish without thinking about it.
It is said intelligence doesn’t depend on how many neurons you have, but how many neuronal connections you have created. Learning Spanish is a good way to get these new links, so get ready to make that little EXTRA effort, which will make you EXTRAORDINARY.