Adulting Foreign Language Partnership Travel Tips

How I’m Finally Mastering A Foreign Language, And How You Can Too

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

How I'm Finally Mastering A Foreign Language, And How You Can Too
Madrid, Spain

There is absolutely nothing sexier than speaking a second language. To me, it’s the closest thing we’ll ever get to having a super power.

People who speak more than one language are able to connect with more people, have more professional opportunities, and develop a newfound confidence that only comes when you’ve mastered a language other than your native tongue.

As an American, I grew up with the option of taking a second language class in high school or opting for another elective in the arts or music department — I chose music (piano, alto saxophone, and even dabbled with a guitar).

For some reason, I avoided learning Spanish like the plague. Venturing outside of America was never in the picture back then, so I just didn’t see the importance of it, and I regretted every minute of that choice once I started traveling the world.

How I'm Finally Mastering A Foreign Language, And How You Can Too
Madrid, Spain

But luckily, with every day brings a new opportunity to go after those things that challenge you — and let’s face it, learning a second language is challenging!

I dabbled with apps like Duolingo and even gave Rosetta Stone a good go back in 2014 when I moved to Spain. But those never quite did the trick. Luckily now, I’ve found a way that has been making up for lost time and then some.

But I was curious as to what the cool kids were using these days, so I asked my Facebook network to share what they used and what they were struggling with in terms of overcoming the inevitable plateau in language fluency.

Right off the bat, there was an overwhelming amount of users who used Duolingo, like I first did when I started out. It can serve as a great foundation for getting those everyday adjectives, nouns, and verbs down. But my Duolingo dedication was very short-lived. Much like everyone else’s. And these responses explain why apps like those are no longer the way to learn a second language…

How I'm Finally Mastering A Foreign Language, And How You Can Too
Sevilla, Spain

It was difficult staying consistent with the app. Talking to a computer is not the same as talking to a person — I’ve learned the most, from simply talking with Spanish speaking people as they teach me new words and phrases. -Brittani G.

Duolingo, Babbel and BYKI. They all work, but I would advance a lot farther if I was willing to speak the language, even with all my mistakes. -Michelle R.

I downloaded Duolingo to practice more — it utilizes different methods of engraining the language into your vocabulary. But to me, something I think that could expand the engagement and usability would be if you could find people on the app to practice speaking with. -Rachel Y.

Duolingo is great, but it is only for supplementing other ways of learning. It’s not that it’s not working, it just doesn’t work alone and the repetition of the lessons does nothing for longterm memorizing of the vocab unless I begin immediately using the words thereafter in real life situations. -Daneka H.

I took 3 years of French in high school and only one semester of it in college, and trying to refresh my memory through Duolingo is both great and not great. I wonder how many times I’ll be using phrases like “I’m rich, or they’re rich” in real life in either France or Canada. -Vanessa T.

How I'm Finally Mastering A Foreign Language, And How You Can Too
Madrid, Spain

I’m also using Duolingo for Spanish. It’s really good for practice, but I wouldn’t recommend it for learning a language from the beginning. It’s not in-depth enough. When you get an answer wrong, the app doesn’t explain why it’s wrong, it just gives you the correct answer. -Omotola O.

I have used Duolingo but it lacks actually talking to some or at least informal French. The way that French is taught in apps is usually not the way that everyday people speak. Also, if you already know a good amount of the language, it’s hard to advance with any of these apps! -Kirstie T.

For a while I was using Duolingo to practice Spanish, but I found that it plateaued at an intermediate level. I wish it would have more advanced topics and a higher level of difficulty. I stopped using it, as I don’t think it could help me become fluent. -Heidi P.

I’ve used Duo Lingo to learn more French, after having taken French 101 in University and doing very well. I find the difficulty is being motivated or interested in doing it. I prefer to learn from a human, I like the human interaction and the competition of the classroom. -Alyne T.

You have to be in an immersive environment to truly learn a language. That is- having opportunities /being forced to speak it with natives several times/day. -Louise C.

How I'm Finally Mastering A Foreign Language, and How You Can Too |
Paris, France
Each of these people succeeded at pointing out where Duolingo falls short. I used to spend 30 minutes daily on the app and couldn’t figure out why I either got bored with it, or didn’t feel myself advancing like I wanted to.

The answer is pretty simple — you can’t gain total fluency in a language without conversing with a human being along the way.

I know, I know, but apps are sooooo much more convenient. At your fingertips. Can use it on the toilet. And makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something when you spend 10 minutes matching the correct pronouns with elementary-looking cartoons.

But unless you’re okay with only knowing phrases like “the yellow flamingo defecated on my face” (only slightly exaggerating) then that’s as far as your fluency will get.

It wasn’t until I stepped outside of my comfort zone and starting doing language exchanges and taking private lessons that I finally felt myself reaching a new level of language proficiency.

And that’s why I’m excited to introduce Rype to you guys!

Rype handpicks the top 1% of language teachers around the world and provides a platform where users can schedule the times and days where they would like to get private lessons from native speakers.

During my first lesson, I was paired with Marta from Barcelona. After bantering about how much I missed that city and some of the colloquial phrases I learned there, she was so encouraging and engaging in our lesson. I’m shy when speaking, so I needed that!

How I'm Finally Mastering A Foreign Language, And How You Can Too
Toledo, Spain

I consider myself about 60% fluent in the Spanish language, both in speaking and listening (this number goes up and down in relation to my sangria intake, but I digress).

But we were able to converse 90% of the time in full blown Spanish. When we’re not challenged or pushed by these apps to truly learn through trial and error from everyday conversations, then we don’t get the opportunity to fail our way to the top of our potential.

What I love about my Rype lessons is that with my crazy travel schedule, I can choose a time that works for me, and there will always be someone who can accommodate it.

There’s no magic to it — you simply must take the time to talk to a native speaker if you’re truly serious about learning that second language.

How I'm Finally Mastering A Foreign Language, And How You Can Too
Ibiza, Spain

At the moment, Rype only offers lessons in Spanish and French, but they’re looking to expand in the coming months, as well as some other updates that will make scheduling more user-friendly.

So there you have it! I challenge you guys to give Rype a shot! They even offer a FREE 14-day trial so you can truly figure out if this is right for you.

While the trial is free, having a Rype subscription is not. You have a couple options to choose from after your 14-day trial, which offer the choice of unlimited or daily lessons as a part of the subscription.

I’m excited to hear you guys’ thoughts and once you have your first lesson, report back with the news!

As I spend the next few weeks traveling around South America, my daily immersion in Spanish speaking countries combined with private lessons should have my Spanish fluency at the next level in no time. So click HERE to start your 14-day trial and get going on the road to fluency in a foreign language!

How I'm Finally Mastering the Spanish Language, and How You Can Too |
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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Rype, but like anything else, all opinions are my own.

  • Best ways to master a foreign language is to be in the country where the foreign language is spoken; or conversely have a partner who speaks the language fluently if you’re not living in the country where it is spoken, or otherwise, babysitting..children are such great teachers even without knowing it..very young children are apt to repeating words, making it easier for you to “get it”…in time I should try to pick up a foreign french for two years back home in Kenya was rapidly forgotten when I got to live in the Netherlands where dutch is spoken..but from time to time, I encountered refugees/immigrants from francophone west africa, and could communicate with them, albeit at intermediary level..:-)

    • Agreed! But not everyone has the luxury to just pick up and move to a country where they want to learn the language – so this is the next best thing 😉

  • T Williams

    Hi, Ms. Gloria!

    Have you visited Sweden or Norway, if so were you welcomed?

    Thank you.

  • I can SO appreciate this post! I moved to Germany 14 years ago and the only German I knew was “Ich Liebe Dich”! Now I’m about 90% fluent but it was a hard lesson and a hard road! Now, we just moved from Germany to Mallorca, Spain! So, time to learn Spanish 😉 As I age, so does my memory power. Hopefully it doesn’t take me another 10+ years to master a new language! LOL Thanks for the tip with Rype! Will definitely check it out!