Strange thing happened to me in 2009 (the end result affects you if you speak English and live in Spain)...

I sat in a tapas bar in Menorca with some "amigos" and my brother next to me…

We were next to the beach; the waves and the sky were breathtaking... but I hated it all. The whole Spain.

My friends and my brother tried to get me involved... to say something in Spanish, but I sat there like a 5th wheel. A silent partner. Everyone was having a great tipsy time chatting in Spanish...

The only problem was I didn't speak any Spanish… I was the only one quiet there. Painfully quiet at the edge of the table…

I thought, "Why can’t we just speak in English? Yes. Yes. We are in Spain, but so what…"

Anyway...

The convo continued in Spanish. The weird language… 

...full of stupid rules, tenses, and strrrrrange sounds, I thought… On top of that, as if my situation wasn’t bad enough by not speaking it. The fact that my brother and all my friends spoke it at a very high level implied to all the Spaniards at the table that it shouldn’t be a big deal to learn Spanish…

Some looked at me with: “¿Qué tal, Peter?” I just stared back.

It was 2009 and by this time languages were killing me. I studied English for 4 years in high school, but in the end couldn't say even 2 sentences. But English was the least of my problems…

You see, I also studied German in school. For 8 years… And wasn’t able to speak it and that was huge issue. Why?

Because for 4 freaking years of those 8 I was in my mom’s class (she's a German language teacher back home in Slovakia). And...

In a small town like ours, all the people & teachers know each other… So I was the laughing stock of the whole place…

But that spring of 2009, my brother Jan and I left UK and we went on a holiday to Spain. Actually, Jan was already moving. Me? I went there to test the waters because I didn’t speak any Espanol, so how would I get a job there?

For Jan, it was easy yes. My mate Zdenko, who also worked in the UK previously, was already in Spain (he spoke Spanish too).

But I had to return back to the UK, unwillingly… as the last of the Mohicans… while all my friends from the UK had already moved to Spain…

But in a sunny country I was kinda considered as stupid. Not only did Spaniards look at me like, "Why don’t you speak Spanish?" but because my brother and other friends from Slovakia were fluent in it, I looked like an idiot next to them…

No matter what I tried... I felt…

Frustration — "Why won't this f&%king work!?"

Overwhelm — "There's too much Spanish to learn, and I don't even know where to start."

Envy — "Why is he speaking Spanish and I'm not?"

Hopelessness — "Forget it. This may work for everyone else, but it doesn't work for me."

Despair — "Nothing is ever going to change, so why bother?"

But when I got back to the UK Zdenko called me suddenly to tell me that he has a job for me in a hotel where he worked, however I had to speak some Spanish. 

I thought, I’ll never have such an opportunity again. I must learn this freaking language…

I had sometime before the summer season started, so I decided to research for several weeks... reading nothing but about language learning…

But this time I wanted to know what was going on with me… Why can’t I learn languages? I didn't want some platitudes or feel-good advice like just move to Spain and you'll pick it up... 

Enough was enough… this time I wanted the truth, the hard facts... what the science says about language learning, not the opinions of everyone and their brother… because I was really pissed off at this stage.

So…

As crazy as it may seem, I printed hundreds of pages of materials on language learning, put everything on a conference table, and, like a scene from The Accountant, spent several days capturing ideas on Post-Its, whiteboards, and notebooks.

I printed out thousands of papers, articles, reports… Reading day and night. Then, one book caught my attention, written in the 1980s…

I looked at the back pages, and there it was… more than 200 studies cited on foreign-language students…

Soon I started to ask myself why isn't this information well-known... I found the answer around a decade later watching an interview on Youtube channel Matt vs Japan with the author, an American linguist who has a PhD in Grammar called S. Krashen.

But back to that day when I was reading about those 200 studies which changed my life forever...

Somewhere around page 10, excitement started to build up in my chest, which would was alternating with anger as if why didn't I know this before…

But for now, I started to feel that I might be soon handing my notice and head back to Spain for good... because with each page Spanish seemed less & less intimidating.

Total excitement!

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