I have been learning English since I was eight years old. So many years learning a language and I have not managed it successfully.
First of all, teaching methodology has changed in recent decades, fortunately for all of us. When I was at school and high school, English lessons weren’t based on the communicative approach. We were taught to translate sentences, from English to Spanish and vice-versa, and we learnt grammar and vocabulary off by heart. But no teacher took care of reading or speaking. They even spoke in Spanish during the lessons.
Nowadays I am aware that they didn’t manage these second languages correctly at all, so they weren’t able to teach it properly.
My parents were determined to give us a good quality education, so for that reason we attended extra lessons at school, and English academies at high school.
When I was a teenager I spent two different summers in Ireland. It was a great experience but there were around 200 Spanish teenagers and we spent more time speaking Spanish than English. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity and I’ve got excellent memories of those summers.
During my time at university I learned about methodology, grammar, literature, history, semantics, semiotics, all in English, along with my two years preparing the Civil Servant exam. This was the point where my English reached its highest level. Every day I received and produced this language using its four skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
Unfortunately, since that moment onwards, year by year my knowledge and skills have been getting rusty.
To conclude, the main problem which I face nowadays is time. I run out of time to invest in English. At school the level is very low so although I try to do my best my skills are not in good shape. But every day at the Academy I am improving and hope to reach the level where I once was.
By Cristina Herrero