THE BLOG

Can You Learn a Language in 180 Days?

23/09/2014 11:52 BST | Updated 23/11/2014 10:59 GMT

I have tried to learn languages before. I had a good stab at GCSE French and German where even the sheer mundaneness of the UK education system's approach to learning - write, memorise, repeat etc - failed to quell a desire to be fluent in at least one other language other than my mother tongue.

I spent some of my gap year on a tour of Central America where our guide, an Australian called Patrick, was fluent in Spanish and I marvelled at how much easier it is to explore a culture when you speak its language. More opportunities arise, doors open quicker and the locals - flattered you've taken the time to learn to converse with them - are instantly friendlier and more accommodating.

The second part of my travels took me across Europe where I ended up working on a campsite alongside people from all over the continent. The one person that sticks in my mind the most was the Dutch receptionist who could converse with a queue of people one after the other in any one of the five languages in which she was fluent, switching from one to the next in an instant. That completely blew my mind.

Soon after my return to the UK I went to university. One of the first things I did was enrol in an optional Spanish module - if I could learn a language anywhere, than surely it would be in a university?! Alas, no. Drinking, late nights out and an Xbox stumped that one.

Since then I have made half-hearted attempts to learn French, Spanish and even Arabic, but all have faltered due to one excuse or another.

And all of a sudden I'm 30-years-old.

And then I read article, quite a morbid one at that. It was called something along the lines of: "The 10 Biggest Regrets Of The Dying". Alongside the "wish I'd had more sex" and "wish I had worked less" was "I wish I'd learned another language". That hit a nerve with me and I decided to do something about it. I don't want to lie on my deathbed at (hopefully) a ripe-old age and regret not doing something.

So here it is. Next spring I am going a place I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember - Costa Rica. And what's more I'm going to learn Spanish by joining the Rosetta Stone 180 Day Challenge, speak to people, lots of people and have a bloody great time.

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