Javier Burillo – Tips on Using Your Spanish Abroad
When I first arrived in Mexico some years ago I could speak a little bit of Spanish, enough to get by, and I was really keen to learn more. I had wanted to live in Mexico for a long time anyway, and this was the perfect chance for me to get away and experience life in a new country, speaking a new language. I arrived in Mexico City and I have to be honest, I was quite surprised that there wasn’t much English spoken. As surprised as I was, I also had a great amount of excitement because this seemed to be the perfect environment for me to learn the lingo.
If you have a little bit of Spanish and you go to a Spanish-speaking country, here is how to use it and improve it.
Don’t be Scared
I don’t know if it was culture shock or a lack of confidence but during my first couple of weeks here I just didn’t speak the language, at least not very much. After those couple of weeks I had to seriously have a talk to myself and kick myself into gear, so that I could actually start using what I had. Something which many people won’t tell you is that if you don’t use a language you will absolutely lose it, and I was rusty after just a couple of weeks.
Expect To Not Understand
The biggest issue with those who can speak Spanish to a low level, is that they know how to ask a question but they fail to understand the answer. Unfortunately this is something that you just have to get through your head, because it is going to happen all of the time. The beauty is that each time you fail to understand something, you begin to understand more and more, picking out words and piecing it all together. Expect to be confused and expect to feel completely lost.
The best experiences that I had when I first lived here was the parties that I went to with my friend Javier Burillo, filled with Mexicans who simply couldn’t speak English. This was so hard and at the end of those parties I would find myself so tired. What I didn’t realize however was that this was the learning experience which I needed and which I had been looking for. Those hours of confusion and asking people to repeat themselves, those were the moments when I learned the most and if you can immerse yourself I would absolutely recommend it.
A Little Help
I am not encouraging people to drink alcohol here, but if you do enjoy a little glass of beer or wine from time to time then it is something that I would absolutely recommend to you. There is nothing that greases the wheels like a little mezcal, and I can assure you that the words will come much quicker afterwards.
Keep trying and you will get there.