When I’m not working…

Jul 27, 2020 | Sector & policy

I’m speaking Spanish! Jack Denton, Director & Co-founder at AllAboutGroup

I’ve been living in Spain for around three and a half years and until mid-march I was commuting to London every week, sometimes for a few days at a time, sometimes just for day trips.

I’ve mostly been living just outside Barcelona in a seaside town called Sitges, though we did spend a year in the city when we first arrived. 

Of course Barcelona is in Catalonia so I’ve had to deal with two languages on most days, Spanish and Catalan. My biggest challenge when I first arrived was to try to decipher which language was being spoken to me, as they have many similarities. 

I started learning Spanish as an extra optional course whilst I was at university in 2007. After a break I started evening classes at Birkbeck University, from 2011-2015, which were really great.

Though most of the time I speak in English as I work in English all day and our family language is English, my wife (who is Spanish) talks to my daughter, Alba in Spanish. 

This means that I mainly use Spanish socially with friends and family, so I don’t have to worry about being perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever been that bothered about having flawless Spanish in any case!

I believe that the main concept of language is to get the ideas from my head into other peoples’ heads. If you could have said it slightly better, well who cares? Life is too short. 

Spanish a really nice language and very simple to learn. I think the only thing that stops many people from learning a language is consistency, which is why I’d suggest paying for a course is a good idea and much better than apps or YouTube videos as it is too easy to give up when you have to self-motivate for years.

My language course cost me around £1000 a year, which is a lot of money, but it meant I turned up every week. I think this is the main reason I’m now able to speak Spanish! 

I think it also helps when you have some practical reasons to speak it; there’s no other way for me to speak to most of my wife’s family without it or some of my friends who don’t speak English.

I’ve just moved from Barcelona down to Almeria to be closer to my wife’s family, so we’ll have to see what’s in store for me here, though with a strong regional accent it’s another learning curve, kind of like moving to Belfast or Glasgow when English is your second language. 

My top tips for learning another language are:

  • Be patient, it will probably take five years
  • Be consistent 
  • Don’t try to be perfect
  • Speak as much as possible and don’t be embarrassed if you get it wrong!

That’s it. I hope some of you decide to give it a go. It opens a whole new world. Adios for now. 



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