It’s the best way to learn a new language – so why is it so hard?

- All Posts - Uncategorised

To learn another language, all you need is practice

Or that’s what they tell you, anyway. But learning a new language takes guts, grits and grace – just ask Jessica Bonnard.

The Language for Fun founder was left high and dry when she tried to speak Dutch on a recent trip to Holland. Here she explains why she won’t let a little embarrassment put her off:

Jessica Bonnard explains the best way to learn a new language - with all its potential pitfalls!

Jessica’s story

I speak a little holiday Dutch and I often pretend I don’t, because it’s so much easier to speak English. But as a language teacher I feel I should make the effort from time to time.

“Good afternoon,” says the Dutch receptionist at my hotel.

“Goedemiddag,” I reply confidently. I ask her if she minds speaking in Dutch so that I can practise.

With a devilish glint in her eye, she quickly asks me something that I don’t understand. “Could you repeat that please?” I ask, still fairly confident.

Another barrage of incomprehensible words, and I have to ask her to repeat the sentence yet again. A little self-consciousness starts to creep in. I have brought this linguistic battle upon myself and I am beginning to regret it.

This time I hear a word – “identiteitsbewijs”. I have no idea what that is, but at least I can repeat it to her and ask what it is in English.

“Your ID” she says, begrudgingly. I think she is rather enjoying the sight of me turning a progressive shade of beetroot.

She certainly doesn’t slow down, or use a simpler word like “paspoort”. She then addresses my husband in excellent English and I give up for today.

The best way to learn a new language

I leave with a renewed respect for anyone learning a new language who ‘has a go’ when they’re abroad. It can be a lonely and unrewarding experience at times.

But then I think of the half-price bike hire I got by chatting with the shop owner. Or the lady who escorted me around the supermarket, showing me all the local specialities and amazed that I knew any Dutch at all.

It really is the best way to learn a new language. Tonight at the restaurant I will try again – but I may need a little Dutch courage before I go.

To speak fluently, start off by having a go

Sign up for our French, Spanish or Italian lessons and you’ll get to practise in a safe space with fellow language learners. By the end of your 10-week course, you’ll feel brave enough to face the wider world!

Click here to find lessons near you.

Jessica's well-used passport