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"Don't hang out with the Americans..."

Once upon a time, a shy American girl moved to Spain, thinking that her five years of Spanish lessons in high school would be enough to allow her to communicate in her new environment, Madrid. Oh was she wrong. So wrong.

Of course, that shy girl is yours truly (me), and I want to tell you about my first experience with learning a language, to show you that it's not impossible to learn to speak well, all it takes is a little bit of determination.

Today I want to share with you the same advice that I was given when I arrived in Madrid. I had made some friends on a hiking trip in the Pyrenees mountains, and upon our return to the city, one of them told me this:

If you want to learn Spanish, don't hang out with the Americans.

Now, in that moment, it seemed impossible. It was hard for me to make friends in my own language, never mind in Spanish! I felt so embarrassed every time I tried to talk to someone; it was as if those five years of advanced Spanish classes in high school had been completely useless.

So, you're asking, did I follow his advice? More or less, it took me a while (a long time), but eventually I understood his point. During my first year at university, I hung out with (spent time with) mostly English speakers, or bilingual students, but often in completely Spanish settings, so if I wanted to talk to someone who wasn't part of my group, I had to try to use my Spanish. At first, I hardly talked. I was what we call in English a "wall flower", or someone who watches the party from a corner because they are too shy to talk to people. But eventually, very slowly, I started to come out of my shell, or open up to people, and I slowly (there's nothing quick or magical about learning a language) started to practice my Spanish.

Was I perfect? Of course not.

Did people laugh at me when I made mistakes? Of course not.

Did they help me and teach me new things? OF COURSE!

To learn a language, you must interact with other people, in every day situations. As it's not possible for most people to go and spend six months in an English speaking country, we have to find other ways to practice, and I want to help you do that. My group conversation sessions are the perfect place to practice using real English, and even meet new people! So what are you waiting for? Click on the link below to reserve your spot in the next session!

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