I have been tutoring foreign languages since I was 17, usually working with either GCSE students, or even younger. At the beginning of 2021, I started tutoring Clare, a family friend, in Spanish. Clare was my first adult student, and I have always found it interesting to see how different (and, indeed, similar) her learning needs and experiences are to those learning at school. I had the pleasure of asking her more about her first-hand experience regarding the rewards and difficulties of learning a new language as an adult.
Clare’s Foreign Languages Background.
Clare’s experience with language learning, like many of us, began at school with French O-Level (now known as GCSE’s). She enjoyed learning French and continued to make use of it whilst travelling and spending periods of time living in France. With the consistency of school lessons and continued practice when abroad, it makes sense that Clare feels like French became somewhat imprinted onto her mind, something that she can switch to with ease.
Clare, along with many others, took the COVID-19 lockdown as an opportunity to learn a new language. Spanish seemed like the most useful choice as both she and her husband enjoy sailing in Spain. Clare began Spanish lessons which focused more on the grammatical side and came to me to deepen her conversational skills and put that grammatical knowledge into practice.
Clare describió como, al principio, es como estar frente a un muro de ladrillos – absolutamente impenetrable. Intentar aprender nuevos sonidos y pronunciaciones que tu boca no quiere hacer, empezar de cero puede desilusionarte mucho.