“Just learning to think in another language allows you to see your own culture in a better viewpoint” – Gates McFadden
Don’t be afraid to go somewhere just because you don’t speak the language.
Most of us are afraid of getting to know a new culture, specially when the culture is completely different to ours. One of the main reasons is the language barrier, sometimes even when you go to a country where your language is spoken, the accent and local slangs are different, what makes it a little harder for you to adapt. When I first came to Mexico, I thought since I am a native Portuguese speaker, it would be a piece of cake to learn, speak and understand Spanish, nheeeee, I couldn’t be more wrong, the first week I had to speak through Google Images with Ana’s mom.
For some days or maybe weeks, we talked about me going to a Spanish course, specially since I wanted to start my photography career, but then we decided since I had 3 months before starting classes, Ana would speak only in Spanish with me and I would also try to learn from the family. It worked, in the next 3 months, I wasn’t speaking but I was understanding a lot of stuffs, mostly from listening to the family members conversations, well at least the really grown ups, Ana’s grandma, mom, father, aunts and uncles (well not all of them, Paco is a different story), the “young” ones, less than 30 years old, would speak “albures”, that’s to say, phrases with double meaning, trying for me to say yes or no to a tricky question, so they would make fun of me. I have to say after 3 years, there are still things I don’t understand and still to this day, when Paco tells me something I don’t understand, I always ask Ana first what he is up to, because he always has that look in the face, that look of someone who is about to prank you and can’t hold the smile.
I always read or see on internet, Magic App for learning languages or, learn in 2 days, bla bla bla, if you want to learn a new language, the best way that has worked for me, is to travel to a place where they speak the language and stay away from people who speak the same language as you, so every time you need something, you will just ask them, but instead if you go out, meet people, speak to natives, without being afraid of making mistakes and specially listening to a lot of conversations, music, news, watching local movies, you will end up speaking the language sooner than you think. Learning a new language, is like learning math, you learn it by practicing, paying attention and losing the fear.