How to learn languages

In a previous article, “Mind that language!” (link bellow) Vassili Karathanasis, polyglot, shares what it takes to learn a language. Now we dig a bit deeper with Monica Romero, the founder of Spanish Express, who gives tips that might help you study a language.

How hard is it to learn a language?

Learning a new language is like making the pilgrimage to Santiago or preparing for Wimbledon – it is not an easy task. It requires a little bit of talent, a lot of practice and a lot of dedication. How easy or difficult it is to learn a language is up to you. The first step is to set goals and understand what you want to achieve. Then find the right tutor for yourself. Try different teachers until you find the right one. Study smartly, be prepared to make mistakes (and learn from them) and start using the language every day as often as possible. Look for real-life situations, make friends, learn about the culture, food, movies, music and last but not least have fun with it!

Learning a language is not just about going to class, opening a book, doing exercises and moving on to the next course – that’s a very archaic mentality. I know people who have spent their lives taking courses and then don’t even know how to order a latte when they travel.

Of course it is still important to do the traditional learning; reading and writing exercises, tests and translations but sooner or later you just have to start to use the language and speak. Because of Covid social events are limited but whenever you can, participate in conversation lessons, outdoor social events, weekends, restaurants… The best way to learn is to spend time in the place of origin of the language, where learning happens in a natural way, if you make an effort to integrate yourself fully body and soul. If you have the opportunity, share the daily life and routine of someone who speaks the desired language. Participate in activities, listen to the radio, listen to music, watch TV… you can memorize words almost unconsciously.

Learning a language to the fullest consists not only of speaking and writing correctly but also knowing its idiosyncrasies(1), customs, history, etc. In other words, it really requires very advanced commitment and skill.

How long does it take to learn a language?

Are you going to study and practice every day of your life or just once a week for a set amount of time? Are you going to mix with native speakers and learn the lifestyle of the country or are you going to stick to living in your community and staying within your comfort zone? It depends on a wide range of questions and the answers are up to you!

How can knowing a language change your experience in a country?

Having knowledge of a language or several will not only bring you new experiences on a trip but it can change your life on a personal and professional level. It opens new doors, giving you infinite opportunities that can lead to the greatest achievements of your life, reaching what seemed unreachable. But remember it takes great effort, although the payoff is priceless.

Why do people learn languages these days?

The most common reason is to pass an exam in high school, university, competitive examinations or  employment, for professional and work related purposes. The second is for travel and leisure activities. Because the world is very open we have to mention another important reason: love. It is increasingly common to meet mixed couples. Do you know how many people sign up for language courses for the sake of going to social events, parties and trips to find their better half? A lot! Love does not understand borders…

(1) a distinctive or peculiar feature or characteristic of a place or thing


Mónica Romero speaks Spanish, English, Catalan, Menorcan and French. She has dedicated most of her life to teaching languages but mainly Spanish. She’s been operating her translation business since 1999 which was integrated into her current company, a multi-service school complex, the Spanish Express. They offer personalized learning programs and an immersion program that involves living and studying in your teacher’s home. For more info check the website HERE.

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