When Learning Spanish: "Always Be A Beginner"
Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 10:49AM
Jeanne Bielejeski in Beginning Spanish students, Learning Spanish

I recently came across sage advice from the Buddha: “Always be a beginner.” Applying this peaceful concept to learning Spanish means embracing the uncertainty and the mystery of learning a new language–instead of fighting it. It’s not easy to learn Spanish, it’s uncomfortable in the beginning, but the more you focus on your frustration, the more frustration you get. You must trust that your efforts are adding up to progress instead of falling victim to the discouragement caused by your high expectations. 

So often we get caught in the “perfection-or-nothing” trap when learning Spanish. We feel like we have to speak Spanish effortlessly from the beginning. It doesn’t help that some advanced students and teachers choose a pretentious or elitist position once they have mastered Spanish. It’s one thing correcting for the sake of being supportive, but it’s another thing correcting just to be right about something. Be aware of that, it’s just one of those times where the ego is involved. It's human nature.

We all start learning Spanish tongue-twisted, stumbling all over the place. Like my classroom motto, “You have to make mistakes to learn from them.” “Always be a beginner” also means that you maintain the humility to constantly strive to improve, no matter how far you go. You can delight in your progress because of your commitment, not just because you may (or may not) be better at it than others.

Some aren’t prepared for the commitment, they just like the idea of learning Spanish–minus the effort. That’s perfectly fine, maybe it will happen later. I think some students start Spanish and decide it’s really not what they imagined it would be, or they don’t have the time available. At least they tried, and they can pick it up when it fits into their lifestyle. (“Always be a beginner”)

You will discover if you have the drive and inspiration. Do you feel the hunger pains to learn Spanish? Just like hunger pains for food, your thoughts always come back around to learning Spanish, and the only thing that will satisfy your hunger is knowledge. So start a diet of daily practice in whatever way it finds you, try your best and it is inevitable that you will begin to grow and develop your Spanish skills. Learning Spanish is a journey, not a destination.

Article originally appeared on Free Spanish Verb Charts (http://thespanishverbconjugator.com/).
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