Three Skills a Second Language Gives You

Let’s be honest. Learning a second language is not an easy task. Often times, it means you’ll have to deal with a completely new vocabulary, different grammar rules, challenging pronunciation, and language barrier (yes, I have put myself in situations where I want to say something in English that makes perfect sense in Spanish and people look at me like I’m crazy). Nonetheless, in spite of all these “obstacles,” learning a second language also means you’ll discover things about you that you didn’t know you were capable of doing.

Learning another language has been an extremely bumpy and rewarding adventure, so I want you to read about the skills I have developed while learning English and seriously consider learning a second language of your own:

Autonomy:

Learning a new language takes a level of commitment that will alert your system to understand and develop autonomy on a different scale. You will be tempted to take the easy road and keep living your life as usual, but you’ll soon realize that if you truly want to learn the language, you’ll have to make some sacrifices. You are alone on this. Not literally of course, you’ll have the help of your teachers and peers, but at the end of the day, you are the only person capable of learning and mastering this task. Nobody else can do it for you. I tried not to engage in conversations unless they were in English and I stopped watching TV in Spanish (for a few months, of course).

When you understand this clearly, you know the steps you need to take to be successful. 

Perseverance and patience:

Many times, I found myself judging my capabilities because I couldn’t speak the language or because I couldn’t maintain a meaningful conversation. After being in the US for about five months, I could understand most of what people were saying to me; however, I couldn’t speak back. One day, I came back from school lamenting my life because a professor told me in front of everybody that I didn’t belong in his class since he taught Honors English Literature, not how to "speak English." I felt embarrassed and I wanted to quit, but deep inside, I was eager to prove him wrong. A few months later, the same professor apologized to me in front of the class and told me how proud he was of me. All it took from me was to become more patient with my circumstances (understanding that it is okay not to fully speak a new language in five months) and aiming higher (knowing that through my dedication, I was going to be able to speak the language sooner than later).

This situation, along with many other similar ones, showed me that just because the path becomes rocky, it doesn’t mean I don’t have the potential to achieve my goals. A hundred times I wanted to give up, but a hundred and one I wanted to keep going.

I could go on and on about the benefits and skills that come with learning a new language, but it would take me longer than you and I would want for this post, so I’m just going to let you find out on your own what studying a second language can instill in your life. Go ahead! Pick a language today and embrace the adventure that comes with it.