Motivation for Slackers

I’ll be the first to admit that I can sometimes give up too easily. Like, if you were to say to me, ‘Mary, I think you give up too easily,’ I’d probably just sigh and agree with you rather than fighting my corner.

I have journals crammed full of wonderful ideas, detailing the starts of numerous exciting projects but tailing off into lonely lines of emptiness. The only foolproof way I know to keep myself going against my lazier self’s overwhelming apathy is to willingly place myself in a situation where failure is too awful a fate to contemplate. Pretty dumb perverse, eh? (Perhaps I should change the tagline of this blog to ‘Life between a rock and a hard place.)

Take learning Spanish. I’d fancied the idea for years. I even got as far as buying the Michel Thomas Spanish Course on CD. Which then languished unopened on my bedroom floor for the next two years. (This revelation also says rather a lot about my standards of housekeeping. But we’re not here to talk about that.)

The solution to my linguistic inertia? Why, to buy a house in rural Northern Spain of course! No signing up for evening classes or splashing out on an in-country residential course for me. A simple spot of emigration ought to do the trick.

Foolhardy Impulsive I may be, but it certainly did the trick. When faced with the prospect of spending the rest of my life as a friendless mute, (well, with only my partner to talk to – not healthy!) endlessly engaging in mime shows in order to get anything at all done I finally ripped that cellophane off those Michel Thomas CDs and got stuck in.

Which is where I might leave off if this was the Hollywood version of ‘How I Learned to Speak Spanish.’ But of course the key to my finally learning wasn’t about biting through some cellophane. It was about what happened in the days, weeks, months and, yes, years, after. It was about keeping going and not giving up even when I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Like I say, I had already made sure that I wasn’t really in any position to give up, sat here on my (potentially very lonely) Asturian hilltop. So, persevere I did, and still do. Perfecting a language as an adult learner is a big task. Luckily I now have a language assistant, who as a native speaker is helping me enormously with my pronunciation and expanding my vocabulary no end. So far mainly with childish terms such as ‘pupa’ (meaning ‘booboo’) – but then he is only 2 ;)

Professor Patterson has an informal teaching style, often taking his classes to the street for real life interactions.

For information on some of the language learning resources I have used (other than my son!) take a look here


  1. When it comes to apathy and easily giving up, I can certainly relate. It’s made me realize that I can choose to better use my “stubbornness” (from the Irish and Scottish side of the family, and Spanish for that matter) to serve a good purpose. Thanks for being a source of inspiration for me to persevere in my desire to learn better Spanish as well. It’s why I am traveling back to Europe this April and plan to land in Spain for a few months to immerse myself in the life and language. Perhaps I can meet up with you in Asturias if I make it to that area :) Cuidate!

    • Hi Amalia and thanks for the lovely feedback. Your travel plans sound great – it really is simply the best way to improve your language skills (and to have a good time on the way!) And a great motivation for putting some work in beforehand ;) Let me know if you make it to Asturias – a ver si tomamos una sidra juntas!! Besos

Leave a Reply to Amalia Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.