(True life stories on how real people achieved their goal of learning Spanish)


  It is a sad but true fact that many people start learning a second language, and then for many different reasons drop out when the going gets tough and then fall into the “repeat starter syndrome” i.e. start a course,  drop out ,start a course, drop out, or buy a course ,give it away etc.


The European language research institute affirms that over 80% of all students who start to learn a language never manage to reach their goal. Why is this? And how do the other 20% mange to go all the way? Now the easy justification for this may be as simple as that some people are just better at learning languages than others, O.K so if this were true how is it that almost all of us were capable of learning our own native language of communication, all be it over a period of a few years. Statistics show that being successful at learning a second language has little to do with intellect, time available,  the type of course you use, age or any of the common excuses that are normally given but mainly to do with attitude, consistency, determination and a will to succeed including clear goals and expectations. So really the attitude you take towards your language learning is more of an ingredient for success than intellectual ability.


  Here are some true life success stories that should encourage anyone embarking on the road to learning the Spanish language and feel they “haven’t got it in them” and maybe help those suffering from “repeat starter syndrome” to break the cycle and get on to the road of success.




Student Profile:


Name: Susan P.  Age: 26.  Job in England: Secretary.  Objectives: To learn enough Spanish to find employment in Spain maybe as a teacher.


I started my Spanish studies in England four years ago. Twice a week after work I went to a further education college and started a beginner’s course. It seemed at the time that everybody must have had some previous knowledge of the language and that I was sure I was the only complete beginner. I tried not to get phased by this but to be truthful the first few weeks were very hard. I had learnt French at school but it wasn’t my favourite subject and I didn’t think I would ever need it, but it did vaguely help me get though some of the first classes especially learning the basics of a Latin based language, understanding the concepts of the grammar which has similarities but there was so much to learn, so many words to memorize and so little time to study at home (I have a wonderful but demanding two year old son.) I really felt like dropping out after the first month but I knew if I did, it would greatly reduce my chances of finding employment in Spain and I wanted to give it the best chance I could.


In the end I rolled my sleeves up and used every trick in the book I knew to save time and study as effectively as I could .It meant a lot of hard work and I had to sacrifice some social events but I really wanted it to work so I carried on and did the full year. Students in the class came and went but I just kept on going no matter what. I finished the course and felt really confident I could get by. When it came to my first few days in Spain and my first conversations I was so disappointed on how little I could understand, and again I felt that I was never going to get to the stage where I was going to be confident enough in an interview but instead of letting go I held on tighter and I enrolled in higher level courses, I made as many Spanish friends as I could and invited all the Spanish mothers for coffee, I refused to watch English T.V only Spanish and although my husband and I were busy working on settling in our house I made sure I had plenty of study time and that this was and important thing. After eight months of job hunting I finally found a part time job as an English come Spanish secretary in the export department of a flooring company. I really enjoy my job and my Spanish gets better everyday the hours are great so I have plenty of time for my family, I have made good friends where I work and when I look back on all I have done and been through to achieve my goal, I can’t help but feel a great sense of satisfaction and pride.




Student Profile:


Name: Peter N.   Age: 61.  Job in England: Carpenter.  Objectives: To learn enough Spanish to be able to do my own administration and make some Spanish friends.


To be truthful I was never intending to learn Spanish at all in a formal way and I was told of a set of tapes that you listen to and learn a bit through listening and repeating.


I tried for a while but just couldn’t get on. I had learnt a few sentences but I had no chance of understanding any Spanish person, unless they were speaking English of course. I finally started a beginner’s class in a local language school and tried to do homework, that’s a funny word to use at my age! But a lot of people in the class were my age and slowly I started to learn. It was about six months later that I realised how important it was for me to learn Spanish. Everything seemed to come at once doctors, mechanics, town hall officials all had to be dealt with and it was not only hard to get a translator it was also expensive. I stepped up a level and worked hard on my Spanish, I tried to learn new words every day and use them whenever I could. I made the effort to talk in Spanish to anyone who would listen including the dog!


  I have now been learning Spanish for about two years and I am now president of my local community association. I am in the position to help out my English neighbours with town hall documents and I was even approached by a local estate agent to see if I wanted to work for them part time, however I declined the offer, I have worked enough in my life. I also have made a lot of Spanish friends and I really enjoy their company, and best of all I am totally independent. I wouldn’t consider myself fluent by any means but I have enough Spanish to enjoy my life here to the full, so I would say I have achieved my goal.




Student Profile:


Name: Rachel M.  Age: 41.  Job in England: Shop manager.  Objectives: To learn enough Spanish to deal with local customers.


I have lived in Spain for about twelve years now, ten of those have been spent in Altea /Calpe , where there is a big English community. I ran a busy Brit bar there and hardly had any time to my self. I could never find the time to start classes, there was always some good excuse why I couldn’t start. To be truthful learning Spanish wasn’t a main priority because all our clients were English and nearly everyone spoke English even the police. The language problems came when we decided to move inland and start a small B&B business of our own. I was a real shock when I realized that hardly any Spanish people Spoke English and there were very few English people around to talk to.


We thought that most of our clients would be English but after we advertised on the web we had a great response from the Spanish so we had an even greater need to learn the language. I started classes but we got so busy (mainly trying to understand and write E-mails to Spanish enquiries) I had to give up .A few months later another course started and so I tried again but this time I had a lot of family over to visit and I had to take them all over the place, then of course Christmas came and we went back to England for a couple of weeks, so by the time I started back at class I couldn’t understand a thing because I’d missed so much. The turning point came during the world TT as our business is near the race track we were swamped with enquires most of which I couldn’t answer! That was it, I had to take this seriously so the next course that started I made sure I did not miss a single class and I mean not one. When friends or family visited I left them by the pool on the morning when my class was on and when I went to England I took my books with me and asked the teacher to help me catch up when I got back I stuck to it with no excuses, yes ,it was hard sometimes especially when your tired or on days when you think you’ll never get it but surely enough I started to be able to sort out my own e-mails and the business has never looked back.


The teacher’s comment:


I am convinced anyone can learn a second language no matter at what age ,background or education if you have the right attitude and commitment. Say you can and you will, so remember, with consistency and a little will power you will win the race!


By Connie


Chiva English Centre


Tel 96 252 29 49








Additional information