What if mastering Spanish was not about your age, genes, natural talent, education or access to quality teaching? What if it simply came down to a great answer to a good question?
A lot of Spanish students find themselves asking these sort of questions: Where do I learn? How do I learn? What books? What courses? How do I learn all of these words? What if I make mistakes? How can I improve my grammar? etc.
These are all examples of road bump questions. They are the types of questions that Spanish students ask themselves when they meet a small hurdle. Answering these questions are going to help you get over the nearest hurdle. Which is fine – until you get stumped again at the next road block.
The difference between success and failure when it comes to learning Spanish is not about your ability to answer these road bump questions. It comes down to ‘why’ you want to get over them in the first place.
If there is one thing that separates successful students, its that they have the biggest ‘why’. Your success is not tied into how naturally talented you are or how good your memory is or whether you have the money or whether you had a good education. It all comes down to why you truly want to learn Spanish? If you have a great answer, the little hurdles will not matter.
If the first step in your journey is definition, the second step is to find the biggest ‘why’ in order to see the journey through.
How big is your ‘Why’?
Are you learning Spanish because it is something to do? Is it to impress a girl? Is it because you have a family member that you really want to connect with? Do you have a vacation coming up and want to quickly learn some vocab to help connect with the locals?
All of these are great reasons to learn Spanish. But are they big enough to drive you to stick to it when it gets hard. Because you will have road bumps. There will be distractions. There will be tough grammar and fear of failure and a whole raft of things that could get in the way of achieving your goals.
The difference between the students who succeed and failure is the biggest ‘Why’.
Remember this scene from the cult classic ‘fight club’:
“The question… Raymond, was what did you want to be when you grew up” said Tyler Durden while holding a gun to back of the convenience store clerk’s head.
“I d.do…don..don’t know” said Raymond.
“C’mon, you went to community college, what did you study?”
“Because I wanted to be a veterinarian”
“Why did you stop?”
“Too much school” said Raymond.
“Raymond, I’m taking your ID, if you are not on your way to becoming a Veterinarian in 6 weeks you will be dead”
Tyler then tells him that he knows where he lives and will check on him daily. Here Raymond now has a huge ‘Why’, if he doesn’t start the process of becoming a vet he will be dead, the ‘Why’ doesn’t get much bigger.
Now this example is a little extreme, but, if you were told that you needed to be fluent in Spanish in 6 weeks or your life will be under serious threat. I’m willing to bet your Spanish will be pretty good at the end of the 6 weeks.
If it is not important to you, the temptation for distraction, procrastination and the busyness of life will cause a serious blockage to your progress. Maybe its that the season finale of Breaking Bad. Or maybe the latest facebook meme becomes just that bit more tempting than memorizing the irregular verb table for tener or ir.
But if your why is big enough, if you have a metaphorical Tyler Durden staring down a gun barrel at you you would quite easily forget the Facebook meme or viral Youtube video and get stuck in to what you set yourself to achieve.
How important to you is it really?
Get a piece of paper and write down 10 reasons why you want to learn Spanish – anything you can think of. Then circle the top three reasons on the list. These should resonate with you the most. Then put the piece of paper in an easy to view place and refer back to it. These top reasons will be your guide when you can’t be bothered memorizing the verb table, or you are too afraid to practice speaking with someone for the first time.
Even if you are starting from scratch as an absolute beginner or you have been learning Spanish for years take the time to figure out the ‘why’. Once you have figured out your ‘why’ and it is big enough to motivate you the ‘how’ and ‘when’ will take care of themselves.