When my husband and I decided to move to Mallorca seven years ago we diligently went to Spanish lessons. I remember thinking: I don’t want to be an immigrant and not bother to learn the language. So we went to night school. The spirit was willing however, but the flesh was weak: we learnt virtually nothing.
My ability to speak Spanish didn’t immediately improve after we’d arrived on the island, but poco a poco we started to pick up words, and I understood más o menos what was being said. We went to some lessons, we picked up a little more, and by making Spanish friends we picked up a little bit more. When all else failed, I fell back on the age old language of pointing and smiling, it got me a long way anyhow.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how frustrating and isolating it would feel to be unable to have a quick gossip with the guy in the corner shop, or stand up for myself in an argument or how fearful I would become about making a telephone call in Spanish. I’d start a conversation and then get stuck in the middle of it, and then I’d feel stupid. I wonder if we’ve all endured that moment when a Spaniard who speaks English asks with incredulity ‘HOW long did you say you’ve been living here?’ (I translate that to mean ‘I can’t believe you’ve lived in Mallorca so long and you STILL can’t conjugate a verb’). I could converse, but only in the present, I just didn’t understand how to change the tense. I’d joke about wanting to be in the film, The Matrix, and getting a rebooted brain with Spanish installed into the back of my skull.
So the course ‘Spanish for frustrated beginners’ pretty much summed me up. Run by the 3Phase Lingua Group, their teaching method promised I would increase my Spanish (they also teach French and German) vocabulary by 500+ words in three days. Imagine being given the key to a locked door behind which lays a vast opportunity to communicate, that is what happened to me last weekend.
The three day course (which was hosted at the Bodhana Wellness Centre in Puerto Portals) is a combination of traditional teaching, physical exercises and word games, conversation, practice, repetition, lots of laughs and (my favourite bit) lying down in a darkened room. It didn’t really feel like learning, it was too much actual fun to be learning, surely? Then something amazing happened, the penny dropped. Just like that I suddenly got it. I was Eliza to our teacher’s Higgins. I was gobsmacked, how could it be so EASY? The knowledge hit me as if it was the rain in Spain falling on dry cracked earth and I drank it in. There I was speaking in the past and future tenses, and making complete sense. Nothing short of a miracle.
So, if you’re stuck, or a beginner, then don’t give up, if I can do it, then so can you, it IS possible to improve. Now I’m thinking, well, if I can do Spanish, then let’s give German a go… Today Mallorca, tomorrow the world!
Visit www.3phase.es to find out more.