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Practising Language Skills

I had a holiday a few weeks ago and I went to Alicante in Spain. I chose to visit this city because I know someone who has a flat there and I have recently been attending Spanish classes. I’ve visited different parts of Spain at various stages of my life a have picked up a few words and phrases, however I had never attended a class until recently. I found the class allowed me to put more structure and cohesion to my sentences and I was able to say and understand more.

I was really excited when I arrived in Spain and was really keen to practice my Spanish. However, I soon became really them disappointed and frustrated when the people I talked to, spoke really fast and I couldn’t understand them apart from the odd word. It was also annoying to see their puzzled faces as they tried to work out what I was saying. I felt a bit useless but I realised that this is a normal feeling to have. It’s impossible to learn a language over night and I understand that I now need to work harder and practice more with native speakers if I’m going to improve.

While I was in Spain I found the opportunity to practice helped my Spanish mainly by making me aware of what I can and can’t do and what areas I need to improve. The most obvious area that I need to work on is my listening. It’s fine being able to understand a teacher or class mates but speaking outside the classroom is a lot faster and less structured than I’m used to.

Since I’ve been back I’ve started listening to 5-10 minutes of Spanish every day and I feel I’m getting better. I focus on key words and try to get the main ideas of what I’m listening to rather than worry about trying to catch everything, as I know real life won’t give me time to stop and try and understand every word. I’m making progress slowly and the main reason is that I know my weaknesses and these are the areas I’m trying to improve. Let me know what you think of my experience and how you feel when trying to improve your English.


  • various – n different
  • to pick up -  phr. v [t]  to learn some thing from experience
  • cohesion – n uniting different phrases, sentences or text
  • disappointed – adj.  saddened or depressed by the failure of hope or expectations
  • frustrated – adj. not satisfied because of being unable to do something
  • puzzled – adj. feeling confused
  • to be aware of – adj. phr. having the knowledge of
  • obvious – adj. easily seen or understood

By Ben Butler, English Language Trainer

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