Moving to Spain was definitely a challenge, but unlike the other people I met, I arrived in Madrid with a basic grasp of Spanish. I studied the language at GCSE and tried to take it as an A-level, however, after only three months I dropped the class because I felt it was too much pressure and learning in that way was making me hate the subject. I decided to pick it up again at University of after, but my family all told me that would never happen.
I had three years without speaking a word of Spanish before moving. In the first week of university in Madrid I picked up a Spanish class and found I was in the second level, (the European scale goes A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 with A1 being a complete beginner and C2 being fluent) in the five months I was out there I improved from an A2 to a B1. This doesn’t sound like much especially since I had studied Spanish before, however like anything it’s about practice. If I were to practice Spanish every day since GCSE then I’m sure I’d have arrived in Spain as a B2 and left as a C2, but that just isn’t the case.
Learning Spanish in England is difficult, Spanish classes in Madrid were a world apart. Learning a language from someone who is native in it is 100 times better. You have to practice oral Spanish every day because you live there so it encourages you to practice what you learn in class. I felt a little disheartened that I had spent all those years in school learning Spanish and I wasn’t a high level, but I found I picked up Spanish far quicker than the other students I was with and had a better vocabulary because I could remember some words from previous study.
I did make some mistakes though. My landlady did not speak a word of English so I would practice my Spanish with her when she came to clean the flat. What I didn’t know until nearly the end of my time there was that in Spanish there are two words for hot and they have different meanings. As it turns out I had been telling my landlady I was horny because it was sunny. I’d be saying this for three months.
When I arrived in Spain I was very pale and even though I knew some Spanish I was too scared to properly say anything. Everyone in shops would clearly see I was English and even if I tried Spanish they would just talk to me in English. By the time I left my confidence was so much better and I was very tanned so no one even tried to speak to me in English anymore, everyone just assumed I was Spanish!