Hi, my name’s Jan.
to my blog and ‘mi vida loca’ (my crazy life) trying to juggle work, family and friends between two countries while learning Spanish.
I’m a qualified careers adviser and I live in both England and Spain.
But now I have another job too! I’m helping my Spanish friends with their English, and my English friends with their Spanish (but only at a beginners level as I’m still learning Spanish myself!)
Over the years I’ve taught careers guidance and personal development to people of all ages in schools, university, employment bureaus and in businesses, and wrote many articles for The Careers & Lifestyle Journal.
I know that many people struggle to achieve their goals in life, both their professional and personal goals, and this is often because they don’t believe in themselves. They don’t believe that they have the ability or power within themselves to achieve their dreams.
I have many English speaking friends, who live in Spain full time, but who don’t speak a word of Spanish. I feel this is a real shame as I feel that they are missing out on so much.
Not only making new Spanish friends, and participating in different social and cultural events with Spanish people, but also the thrill and the buzz you get when you find that you’re able to converse with someone in their own language. There’s nothing like it.
But they believe language learning to be an impossible task. They don’t believe that they can learn a foreign language. And why should they? Since they’ve never learnt a language before it’s understandable that they should think this way.
Anyone can learn a language
Well, I firmly believe that learning a foreign language is NOT an impossible task, and what’s more that they, and anyone, can learn a language if they really want to.
All that anyone needs to learn a foreign language is: the belief that they can do it; a good reason for wanting to learn it; and a certain amount of dedication to learning the language.
To learn a new language, I suppose in a way, you have to become a little obsessed. But obsessed in a healthy way!
If you make language learning enjoyable, and make it part of your life. So much so that it becomes a habit, just like brushing your teeth, then you’ll make good steady progress.
I study Spanish everyday. It has become a habit and now I don’t even have to think about it. Spanish is part of my life. I read books in Spanish, I watch videos on Youtube in Spanish and I listen to Spanish podcasts on my ipod. By doing this everyday, and sometimes for no more than 30 minutes on a busy day, my level of Spanish has improved greatly.
I’ve been doing this for about 6 months now. However, I’ve actually been learning Spanish for nearly 3 years, but before I started taking control of my language learning, I was learning Spanish passively. I was attending a weekly Spanish class and sometimes doing a bit of homework in between. This is not a good way to learn a language for most people! Yes, it can be a good way to learn Spanish if you combine it with other methods, such as speaking with a language partner on a language exchange platform, such as Italki, and/or listening to podcasts and reading books in Spanish. But taken on its own it is not normally an effective way to learn.
It can take years, even a decade to learn a language in this way, and that’s if you don’t give up along the way.
And in my experience, even after many years of learning a language in a classroom enviroment such as this, you may still not have the confidence and/or the ability to hold a conversation with a native speaker in their own language. This is because it’s often the teacher that does all the talking, while you passively listen and get very little practice actually using the language.
Better to learn a language independently
Many people who have learnt a language, especially polyglots, believe that a language can’t be taught, it can only be learnt. I think this is true. I find that self-directed learning is a much better way to learn a language. You are the one who is responsible for your own learning. You are the one who decides what, when and how you study. And this can be alligned with your interests and your particular learning style which makes learning a language much more enjoyable.
I’ve learnt one or two things about learning a language..
After more than 20 years of learning French, and having completed well over 30 courses using various teaching methods and materials such as: ‘Teach Yourself’ books and courses with CDs; on-line courses with audio files; video and film; traditional classroom based tuition; private tutoring; and chatting to other language learners on Skype; I feel that I’ve learnt some really useful language learning strategies and techniques that play to the different learning styles that people may have. I believe these strategies and techniques can help anyone to become fluent in any language. Even more importantly these strategies and techniques help to keep language learning fun.
I decided to start this blog for three reasons.
Firstly, I want to document my progress in learning Spanish and to hold myself accountable for my progress. Keeping a language log has helped me to keep track of my progress, has helped me to set and meet my language learning targets and helped me stay motivated and keep language learning fun.
Secondly, I want to help/inspire/motivate my English friends (living out in Spain) to not only start learning Spanish, but to make it part of their daily life. Even if they only have half an hour per day to devote to study and practice.
And thirdly, I would like to be able to share some of my language learning knowledge, methods and tips with you. No matter what language you’re learning, many of the strategies that I use and talk about in this blog can be applied to all languages.
So, are you ready to learn Spanish? ¡Vámonos! Let’s go!
A bit more about Jan:
Home: UK and Spain
Status: Married to Bob, with two children, Nikki (Nellie) 25, and James (Jimmy) 27, and three step children (Robert, Gem and Mikey – let’s just say all grown up now).
My most proud moment: My graduation at Versailles, Paris; graduating with a first class honours after studying with the Open University for 20 years! Also quite a sad moment too – the end of an era. I miss the OU.
My worse habit: making lists (unfortunately both my son and daughter now do the same – must be a genetic trait/weakness).
I’d really like to: Travel more and have a permanent home in Spain (possibly Almuñécar or in one of the many pueblos blancos (white towns) in the region of Axarquía) with a large garden and a cat.
Hobbies: Anything I can get away with – blogging, reading, learning Spanish, watching documentaries (especially anything medical) gardening, walking, cycling, vinyasa yoga, having fun at my gym classes, and tennis.
I love to eat: A homemade date scone (recipe given to me by the Star Anise cafe in New Zealand) with a cappuccino please. But don’t forget the chocolate sprinkles.
I’ve Never: felt inclined to go bungee jumping, or to parachute out of an airplane or do anything which involves free falling through the air – nor do I want to! I prefer La Tierra!
My style is: Jeans and T-shirt every time, but heels whenever possible as I’m only 5ft 3″ tall.
The best place I’ve visited is: New Zealand, sorry China and the Caribbean and all the wonderful places that I’ve visited in Europe, but you know how much I love unusual plants and vegetation, well I’m afraid that New Zealand wins hands down.
I still love my little piece of Spain though – Hacienda Riquelme feels like home. Obviously I don’t own the hacienda; this is our club house come cafe and restaruant.
3 things I couldn’t live without: My mobile, my ipad and my passport
What kind of person I am: The MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) says that I’m an INTP (‘Introverted; Intuitive; Thinking; Perceiving’ kind of soul.
Words I live by:
You are confined only by the walls you build yourself
Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have
Ready to learn Spanish? ¡Vámonos! Let’s go!