Quality classes in Estepona for over 20 years
Q: Is Spanish a difficult language to learn?
A: Most definitely not. Although the verb endings seem difficult to English speaking persons and Scandinavians at first, all students soon pick up the trick. That which seems so strange at first becomes a pattern that is repeated again and again throughout the language, and soon becomes familiar. Also, the one tremendous advantage that Spanish has over other languages from a learner's point of view is that it is pronounced as it is written and vice versa.
Q: But when people speak, it sounds like one long word...
A: Everyone everywhere when trying to learn a language says the same. The Spanish say the same when they are trying to learn English. Comprehension does require time and patience, but the fact that Spanish is pronounced as it is written (unlike English) allows people to understand Spanish much more quickly than someone trying to learn English, for example.
Q: How long will it take me to learn?
A: This is the most frequently asked question, and ironically, the one for which there is no good answer. It really depends on one's motivation--the more motivated, the faster one learns. A very, very broad generalisation would be to say that an average student with four to six hours of class per week can probably become quite fluent in about a year.
Q: Am I too old to learn?
A: It is common knowledge that our faculties seem to slow down after a certain age. If you have to walk 20 per cent slower than when you were fifteen, why should you worry about learning a language a bit more slowly? Besides, a lot of people who have kept active, who read and who like to explore things could put a lot of the fifteen year-olds to shame. No, you are not too old to learn.
Q: Learning a language is a lot of work, isn't it?
A: There is no free lunch. If you really think about it, playing games or sports is a lot of work too. If you treat learning the language like a big puzzle-- which is exactly what it is--you can have a lot of fun trying to solve it. Of course, your teacher can make a lot of difference in this respect. If you are in a non-threatening, co-operative situation where everyone tries simply to do his best and laugh at his mistakes, you not only have fun but you learn faster too.
Q: Is it best to have a native teacher?
A: Yes and no. The important thing is to find a professional who knows how to teach. That is his art. If you do not think this is true, ask any native who is not a teacher to explain some grammatical point to you. The answer will always be: "It's that way because it sounds right". Besides, teachers who have struggled to learn the language they are teaching have insights into what the student is going through that native teachers don't usually have. An English speaker who has learned Spanish and is teaching the language will know about all the difficult spots that English speakers go through in learning Spanish.
Q:I'm embarrassed to try to use the Spanish I know. What can I do?
A: Just relax. As stated earlier, Spanish people--and people in general in all Spanish speaking countries--are very receptive, kind and interested in foreigners when they see that they are trying to make an effort. You can make the most hideous errors in Spanish and you will never be laughed at. They may laugh with you (if the mistake is funny enough), but when the laughter is over they will almost always say "No, no. You say it like this..." It really is different in Latin countries than it is in other countries. You will find a sour apple everywhere, but in general, relax, try your best, and you will be rewarded for your efforts in more ways than simply learning a bit more of the language.
Q:Local town councils in this area offer free or cheap Spanish classes!
A: An old saying comes to mind: you get what you pay for. These classes are usually large and there is no way to assure that the students have similar levels of Spanish. Therefore, some students end up bored because the information is too basic and others don't learn anything because it is too advanced. This said, I have had students who studied with me and at the same time went to the council classes, using them as additional listening exercise since the teachers of these classes usually don't speak English in the class even if they do know the language. I suggest that you sign up for one of these classes and find out for yourself.