“Feeling the language”

Can you “feel” the language when you speak Spanish as an unconscious action like riding a bike? That is, the skill comes unconsciously, without fear or thought. Regardless of fluency, you need the courage to meet whatever conversational circumstance you face. Do not worry about how many words you know or how well you conjugate them. Your fluency will improve the more you forget yourself and concentrate on connecting with the other person.

Then you are too focused to worry about yourself and errors. How you feel when you speak – confident, nervous, fearful – will influence how well you speak Spanish. Self-awareness is a key to overcoming the barriers to fluency. As a beginning Spanish speaker, I never felt anxious. Fear of mistakes makes a student insecure, socially awkward and afraid of looking foolish.

Language immersion, formal and informal, gives to a student the saturation necessary to “feel” the language. By that I mean an intuitive trust the words and phrases will come when you need them. Language confidence rests on going forward and looking ahead rather than looking down, afraid of falling over mistakes.

Our minds work even while our body rests. You can dream in Spanish. It happens to a lot of students. It is a sign the mind is absorbing the language subconsciously and that is where you want it.

Every culture has body language to go with the words. In Spain and other Spanish speaking countries I “talk” with my hands far more than I do in Slovakia.

Language does not exist outside you, and it is not knowledge like mathematics or history. Acquiring a language is an intimate process, like art. The teacher can give you vocabulary and grammar as raw materials but only you can make it a part of your being.

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