Even though I teach other people to speak English, I also learned to speak other languages. Here's what I did ...
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Hey guys, it’s teacher Monica. And in this video I’m actually not going to be teaching English like I usually do, but instead I am going to talk about my experience with learning other languages. Now I know that this video says that I learned another language. Well in fact I didn’t just learn one other language. I learned two other languages and I’m going to spend time talking about how I learned those two other languages, what those languages are and the different methods that I used to learn them. Usually I’m sitting here talking and teaching you guys different things about English, you know, how to speak and you know, whatever. But I wanted to answer some other questions that I get from you guys. I would say that every day I get asked like the top three same questions. The first question usually has to do with English and like, Monica, how can I improve my speaking?
How can I improve my listening? How can I become more like a native speaker? And then the other top two of the three usually are more personal questions. And it’s like, Monica, where are you from? And you know, sometimes I’m kind of surprised, I guess it’s not super obvious that I’m American, but the other top question that I get is do you speak other languages? And then when I answer that, I do. The next question is really what languages do you speak? So in this video I’m going to talk about the languages that I learned. I’m also going to speak a little bit of both of those languages so you guys can hear me speak another language. Perhaps it’s your native language. And I think it’s really cool because not only do I teach a language, but I also have learned other languages and I don’t even know if I should just use like the past tense learned, but I’m still learning.
So it’s an ongoing process. Um, but I’m going to share a little bit of my experience with both of these languages and where I’m at with them today. Now I did learn them both very, very differently. And I think it’s cool because every one of us has a different way that we learned. Some of us learn very formally. Some of us learned very informally and so on. So what are the other languages that I speak? So I speak Portuguese and Spanish now. I would say my Portuguese is probably like a level seeing one or maybe even see two. Um, it is, I am definitely, and I am definitely more advanced in Portuguese and my Spanish I would say is more like a B one B two maybe it’s more conversational. And one of the reasons is because it’s been like 15 years since I’ve really used Spanish.
Nowadays, I don’t speak Spanish that much and I have lost a lot of my Spanish. I do live in an area where there are a lot of Spanish speakers. So when I have to use it, I do, uh, when I go to areas where there’s only Spanish speakers, I can understand very well. I don’t have an issue with understanding. It’s more speaking because my Spanish is like so rusty, it’s just, I haven’t used it at all in so many years. My Portuguese on the other hand I use quite often because I do have several students that are from Brazil. And I actually when I started my English teaching career, Brazilians were the people that I taught the most. It was also a language that I really wanted to learn as well. So let me now get into how I learn these languages and their differences.
Also, some of the ways that I feel were better methods of helping me to get to that C one C two level, that fluent, advanced speaking level of Portuguese as opposed to my Spanish that I didn’t ever really get to that super, super like advanced speaking level. So obviously we all have our own experiences with language learning. So for me, I actually grew up listening and hearing Spanish my entire life since I was a baby. Um, but I never spoke it and it was never spoken to me. And that might sound weird. Like, okay, Monica, so you grew up listening to Spanish your whole life, but you never spoke it and no one ever spoken to you. How does that happen? How is that possible? Uh, so my mom is actually not from the United States. She immigrated to the U S when she was a teenager. And my mom’s family is from Spain.
They’re from Zaragoza, which is like I think more Southern Spain. And so my mom’s family came here and their first language is Spanish. My mom actually speaks four languages. Um, but her first language was Spanish and so she spoke that to my grandparents. So that is how I grew up hearing Spanish my whole life. My mom and my grandparents always spoke Spanish to each other, but most of the people that immigrated to the U S back in those days or assimilation. So forget your heritage, forget the country and the language you speak. Only speak English and be as American as possible. So that is basically what was instilled in me when I was born. My father is American, my father was born in Los Angeles. That’s where I was born as well. So my dad’s totally American. Um, but my mom’s family is from Spain and so they came with this mentality of assimilation be as American as possible.
So whenever I was in the house with my grandparents or my mom, I would always hear them speaking Spanish to each other, but they never spoke Spanish to me and I’ve never spoke Spanish to them. However, being in that environment, I saw Spanish used in context and so I could understand pretty much everything that was being said. Even though it wasn’t spoken to me and I never spoke it, I would see the language being used in everyday situations. So it was easy for me to kind of grasp what was being said. And then, you know, as a kid when you’re around it, you just kind of pick things up really easily. Now as a teenager, I decided that I wanted to learn to speak Spanish and I felt that I already had a pretty good background and understanding and seeing it and as naive as I was, I thought I could even speak like a native because I was like, yeah, you know, my family’s from Spain and they all speak Spanish and I got this accent.
No, no, the accent comes only when you practice. And if you don’t practice, you don’t have an accent. So it was my senior year in high school. So in the United States we have four years in high school, freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. Uh, it was my senior year. So my last year in high school and I decided I wanted to learn to speak Spanish. And so, um, the Spanish that they taught in my high school was Castellano, which is like, uh, the Spanish from Spain. They use vosotros, which is not something that’s spoken in the United States. This, the Spanish in the U S is Latin Spanish. It’s like from Latin America, which is different than the Spanish spoken in Spain. So you can understand each other, but it is spoken actually quite differently. And even the words are very different, some of them. So that is the Spanish that I learned, which was great because it’s the Spanish from my mom’s family.
My mom also speaks this Spanish from Spain with the vosotros and all that stuff. So it was actually really easy for me to learn that. However, later on I found out no one uses that. And like when I did speak like that, people kind of looked at me strange. Um, because no one in the U S speaks like that. So that class was really good because I learned a ton of grammar and conjugation. Uh, even though I was quite familiar because I heard it my whole life and I knew like how to see it properly, it was still a very good, like foundational stepping stone for me to learn. So that was great. Um, but I didn’t learn anything past grammar. I didn’t learn conversation, nothing. It was like strictly conjugating verbs. Uh, yeah, that was pretty much it. Then in my freshman year at college, so it call it a four year college.
We have the same thing. Uh, freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior. So my freshman year in college I took another Spanish 101 class and um, it was a lot more conversational. We would listen to videos and like audios and I found that everything the teacher was giving us, I could understand it 100%. Um, I couldn’t speak it really very well, but I could understand everything. And so that was great. It was a little boost in my, you know, Spanish confidence. And then I think towards my junior or senior year in college, I took another class and it was like Spanish composition. So we were writing like a ton of essays. And I think during that time too, I listened to a lot of Spanish music and I tried to make Spanish speaking friends and it didn’t really work so well. Um, but you know, so I have like a couple semesters, one semester Spanish in high school, a semester of Spanish in my freshman and then a semester Spanish in like my junior, senior year in my college.
So that was pretty much it. So in that last semester at college, I met a girl and we became friends. She was from Mexico and she didn’t really speak English that well. Like she didn’t have a lot of confidence. So I was really excited because I really wanted her to speak to me in Spanish and I really wanted to speak to her in Spanish and that, you know, I got to do that to an extent with her. Um, but at the same time she was really trying to learn English and so she wanted me to speak in English and I wanted her to speak in Spanish. So that was interesting. So that was that. And then I just kind of turned to my grandparents like who spoke Spanish at home and when they, they realize like, Whoa, you can really speak and understand Spanish. That’s when they started speaking Spanish to me.
And so then I would just kind of speak in Spanish with them up until they, you know, passed away. They died. And that was back in 2005 and here we are in almost 2020 so it’s been like 15 years that I haven’t really spoken Spanish to anyone. Um, I can still understand it really, really well. I don’t have issues with understanding. It’s more speaking in, like I said, my Spanish is more like a B one B two. I know that if I was to immerse myself in it, it would definitely come back and I would be quite fluent again the way that I was. But as it stands today, I’m just, you know, I’m okay with when I speak and like I said, I will speak Spanish, you know, in this video just so you guys can get an idea of my level. And if you’re a native Spanish speaker, then you’ll be able to hear me and kind of assess my, um, Spanish level.
Also, I do have a super strong gringa accent when I speak Spanish and unfortunately, I don’t really know, you know, if that will ever go away. But I will say this, I’m fine with it. Um, because to me an accent when you speak another language is your identity. It’s who you are. And I think you should own that and be proud of it. Uh, I always tell people who ask me about accent reduction. I think ads or induction is beneficial with certain circumstances. I don’t think we should ever strive to fully get rid of our accent though. Like I don’t, to me, accents are so beautiful and so I’m fine with having a super extra amazing gringa accent, but I do try my best to pronounce and speak Spanish as much like a native as I possibly can. So now I’m gonna shift gears and I’m going to talk about my experience with learning Portuguese and some of the reasons why I believe that my Portuguese is so fluent and advanced with my Spanish.
I do think if I would have made more efforts and pursued it even deeper, I would have definitely gotten a lot more fluent and advanced. I did have a lot of formal education with Spanish. You know, I took a couple semesters in college and then also a semester in high school. So there was a lot more formal education and I would say majority of it was grammar. A lot of it was grammar. Um, and I found shortly after learning at school like it’s not real life Spanish. No one really speaks like this. And you know, like it’s not realistic. It gave me a great foundation, but it’s not how people speak. Like textbook language learning is only going to get me so far. I need more. So with Portuguese I took a very different approach. Uh, with Portuguese I did buy a grammar book cause I knew for me like verb conjugation is important, especially irregular verbs.
In the, in English we have so many. So I do know the importance of grammar. I mean I am an English teacher. Like I do teach English. So I do know the importance of grammar. However, grammar will only do so much for you if you want to be fluent and speak like a native. With Portuguese, I did buy a book, I learned some grammar, but I did something very different. I actually like threw myself in the lion’s den. I just like dove right in. I found a group of native Portuguese speakers and I just started speaking basically. Um, I was in there every day. I would hear native speaking, I would send audios of my speech and I had such an amazing experience cause these native speakers would correct me. Um, there were other English learners in those groups as well who are learning Portuguese as well.
And it wasn’t a formal setup, it was sort of like a bunch of people just came together and wanting to learn. So it was sort of like an informal language exchange. If there was such a thing today, like for example, if there was like a Portuguese teacher who had a formal group online, um, I would definitely want to join because even though I’m quite advanced, I still really want to improve and get even better with my vocabulary and become even more advanced. So if you guys know of anything like that, you know, let me know because I would love to participate. So with this, like I said, um, it was basically just a bunch of people came together. I think there was like 15 people in the group. I don’t really remember anymore. That was several years ago and we just helped each other and it was really fun.
I met some awesome people and you know, it was definitely a really awesome experience. I also took another route in that I would watch a lot of, you know, novellas essentially in Portuguese. And with that it was great cause I learned contexts and I think language learning is really, really important with context. When you can see like two people in context having a conversation or arguing or whatever. It helps a lot with understanding and then remembering and that’s sort of my experience with Spanish, with my mom and her family is that I never studied it but I could understand it based on context. So anytime, you know, my family would say something, I could understand it, I just couldn’t speak it and they never spoke to me in Spanish. So with Portuguese I did do the same thing. Like I listened to a ton of music.
I did the immersion type thing where I just change everything. Like all TV was Portuguese, all music was Portuguese, everything I read was Portuguese and pretty much everyone I talked to spoke in Portuguese. So I tried to really immerse myself in a language. Um, you know, when you can find like a consistent partner who can speak with you regularly, that is going to help your speaking immensely. It’s going to make all of the difference. And if that person’s a native speaker, even better. So with Portuguese it was a much, uh, you know, less formal education. Whereas with my Spanish, I took a couple classes. Granted I did have the exposure for my own family and with Portuguese I didn’t have exposure to anyone really. It was like I heard it, I thought it was beautiful. I wanted to learn it. Hey, here I am. So now I’m going to speak these two languages for you guys so you can hear my level and I’ll start with Spanish.
(Speaking in Spanish)
Okay. So that was really bad. I definitely need to practice. Okay, so now I’m going to speak in Portuguese.
(Speaking in Portuguese)
And so there you have a guy who is me speaking actually like just embarrassing myself in Spanish and then speaking some Portuguese for you guys. So let me know if you guys speak Spanish or Portuguese. Um, I definitely, you know, if you guys even know of like Spanish groups because that’s actually probably where I should be spending more of my time. Also Portuguese though, I’m, I would love to improve both. Um, if you guys know of any groups where there’s like a teacher, just let me know. Tell me in the comments. And also for those of you guys who are learning English, if you are looking for a group or something where there’s some, you know, speaking natives and lessons that can help you to improve your English speaking to improve your English listening and also give you a chance to speak often and practice often.
I do have a group you guys can join and you can use this discount code to join the group. I am there. I do teach during the weekdays every single day and I do give you guys homework. I give you guys feedback. You guys also get a group of other English language learners as well. Everyone from around the world learning English together. We have video chats and I also have an online library of videos you guys can check out as well. So if you’re interested, I will put the link in the description box below. I hope that you guys enjoy this video. I know it was kind of lengthy and very different from my usual videos, but I hope you guys learned something new and I will see you in my next video.