One of the most important and effective learning experiences that I have ever had in my life occurred when I lived abroad in Spain from 2003-2005. I was a missionary for my church and basically provided service to church members and other community members who I met there. The learning experience that I would like to talk about was my experience learning and becoming fluent in the Spanish language. Before I arrived there, I was pretty nervous about having to learn the language. Despite taking two years of Spanish classes in high school, I really didn’t know anything about the language. I was absolutely nowhere near capable of carrying on a conversation in Spanish. At first, I struggled with the language. At first, I began to be able to understand things and concepts that people were saying. Even though I was able to understand what others were talking about, I couldn’t speak as well as I could understand. Then as time went on, my vocabulary increased as well as my understanding of verb tenses and other rules. After about six months, I became more confident in my ability to talk to people. It seemed that every day I was becoming better and better with the Spanish language. Once I had been in Spain for about a year, I was able to not only speak the language, but I was able to joke and display my personality through my speech. As I look back on my experience with learning the Spanish language, I am sure that I know why I was able to learn the language so successfully- because I HAD TO! If I needed to get directions to somewhere, I had to be able to ask and listen to directions in Spanish. I couldn’t just go back to English when I was tired or frustrated. Spanish was my only option of communication. I am absolutely sure that if I would have studied Spanish in a place where English was spoken, I wouldn’t have been as successful. When I was in high school Spanish classes, I just did what I had to in order to get by with a decent grade. I didn’t care as much about learning the language as I did about getting a decent grade. I just didn’t feel that it was important during that time to learn the language. I think that the key for learning is to understand why it is important to learn the material. If students do not see or feel that what they are being taught is important information, they will not put forth their best efforts to learn it. In the future when I become a teacher, I will strive to show my students the importance of the material that I am teaching. It is also important for teachers to analyze what their lesson objectives are and cut out the unrelated things.

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