LANGUAGE – Learning as an Adult

Learning a language as an adult can be difficult. 

I am so jealous of children who are born to parents who speak different languages.  I have friends who are mother tongue in two different languages.  My friend, Victoria, grew up in Italy with and Italian Father and an English Mother.  She told me that her mother would only speak English in the house, but whenever they were outside, they would speak Italian.  I remember Victoria telling me that she would get so frustrated with her mother because Victoria wanted to speak Italian all the time, but her mother was insistent that she learn and speak English in the house.  Now, Victoria is mother-tongue fluent in Italian and English.  I’m very jealous of that.

I studied Spanish in high school for three years.Learning Portuguese 1 - Sheryl Grad

  • I was in a classroom with 29 other American students for an hour and a half 2-3 times a week. I am certain that I speak Spanish like a three-year old child.
  • Although I know a lot of vocabulary, I can only speak in the present tense.
  • I practice my Spanish when I can (taxi drivers, shuttle drivers, hotel staff, etc), but I am not fluent AT ALL! When I was learning Spanish (in the late 1990’s before the internet or smart phones), the only people I could practice with were my American classmates, and they were not a great help.

Now, in 2018, I want to investigate methods for studying a foreign language. 

  • Language on Vacation professes that it will improve your fluency.
    • By practicing the English language in America with a certified language teacher as your guide, people will gain more confidence with their speaking skills, sound more natural when speaking with Americans, and become more fluent with the English language.
    • English is studied in real situations.  Rather than imagining context in a classroom, people will study in real places like retail stores, restaurants, beaches, and government parks.
  • However, as with all foreign languages, everyone must start with the basics.

How do people learn a second language? 

  • Some people go to a language school to learn in a classroom with other students or just one-on-one with their teacher.
    • Language schools can be difficult because it takes time and effort just to drive or walk to school.
    • Students also have to pretend they are in a specific setting and imagine a created context to practice the language they are learning.
    • Sometimes, students miss a class because, as an adult, other daily activities interfere with language classes.
    • The only other people students can practice a new language with is other students who are also learning the language.

Learning Portuguese 1 - Classroom


  • In 2018, most people have a smartphone glued to their hands with dozens of apps loaded on to it. I have met many people who have a language app on their phones.
    • Currently, I have Google Translate which does simple translations – sometimes with hilarious but embarrassing errors.
    • I met a student who had Duo Lingo on his phone and I listened to him repeat random sentences that didn’t apply to any one context.
    • Facebook has been advertising Babbel as a way to learn a language in six months. They claim I can speak a language with confidence for just twenty minutes a day.  I always laugh when I see that advertisement because I can’t imagine that twenty minutes a day for 3-6 months in a country where Portuguese is not commonly spoken (my home country of America) will have me speaking a foreign language confidently.  I’m not confident after three years of Spanish in high school (and 13% of the US speaks Spanish).

But, I am going to try.

I am going to conduct an experiment

  • I will sign up for Babbel and devote 20 minutes a day to learn Portuguese.
  • I will document my progress on this blog (and Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and see if I can speak a foreign language confidently within the confines of my own English-speaking country.

Learning Portuguese 1 - BabbelPlease, follow this blog (or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and see how I improve my language learning capabilities.  I will also be posting other articles about travel and learning English as a foreign language, but learning Portuguese will also be posted.


3 thoughts on “LANGUAGE – Learning as an Adult

  1. Very interesting article. I began learning Russian three months back, with a restriction of 45-minutes-a-day and it worked pretty well in the beginning. Later on, time began slipping away and it became hard to maintain the time restriction. I will be looking forward to your progress on this experiment though. Good luck! 🙂


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