Daniela is a B2 member in our English group - English Gym. The following is an interview with her about her experience learning English.
Where are you from? Where do you live? What language are you learning? Why? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Chile, but for years I have strived to learn about new, interesting places around the world. I have always been interested in different cultures. I took my first English course when I was studying at university, and following that I took courses at different English schools, as well as some private lessons.
Have you moved country to improve your speaking skills?
About 4 months ago I moved to the UK looking for new opportunities. It is for this reason that I am looking to perfect my English, especially speaking and listening. The goal is to be able to better integrate into society here.
Has it been difficult to integrate? Why/why not?
Until now it has been difficult for me to integrate into society here, mainly because I find it difficult to understand what people say. At the same time, I do not feel confident to speak English with a native speaker. This is an issue I am trying to fix.
How has learning a language helped you in integrating into the UK?
The truth is that I still haven't had much time to feel integrated just yet! But I do believe that there are certain activities such as going shopping that would be much more difficult for me if I didn't have the basics of English that I do have now.
What has been the hardest thing for you in learning English?
I think the hardest thing to learn so far is the grammar. It is not because I don't know the rules - I do. The challenge is making sure you are following the rules in real time, while you are talking. At the same time you are listening and thinking about what to say next. It’s tricky!
How has Language Gym helped you in your language learning journey?
It's only been 2 weeks since I have joined, but Language Gym has been very useful in feeling supported in this learning process and increasing my confidence when talking with other people.
How often do you attend Language Gym meetups?
I try to attend at least two days a week.
What other learning methods have you tried? Intensive courses, evening classes, 1-on-1? What worked well?
I have tried a variety of methods such as regular courses, private lessons with a teacher, and participating in conversation groups with a teacher in charge. I think this last method, like Language Gym, is the one that has worked the best for me so far.
If you were to learn English again, from the start, what is the one thing that you would do differently?
First of all, I think I would have tried to start learning English earlier in life. As an adult it becomes more difficult to learn a language.
Secondly, I think that the key is perseverance. Personally I have not been very consistent in my learning journey. A good way to be more consistent would have been to find one method of learning that I really enjoyed and to have stuck with it.
Thirdly, discussion groups are great. You can practice with other people and get experience that way.
And lastly, if you have the opportunity to travel to a country where you can learn the language, I think it's totally worth it!
Do you have any book/YouTube video/blog post/podcast recommendation that have helped you with your language learning?
I recently started listening to the BBC news podcast to improve my listening and I think it has helped me a lot.
Now for a general, non-language related question! What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
My husband organized a surprise birthday for me when I was feeling very depressed. Even though I didn't want to go out, he did everything humanly possible to convince me to go out and enjoy myself. I am glad he did, I had a great time with my friends!