Originally published by Cordell Parvin.
If you are not interested in my effort to learn Spanish in San Miguel de Allende, you can skip to the end of this post to learn how my efforts relate to your efforts to become a rainmaker.
Hola from San Miguel de Allende. I am in my second week of Spanish Immersion at Habla Hispana. After this week I will be half way to completion. It’s the rainy season in San Miguel, which has made life here a little more challenging.
I was afraid when I left Dallas I would be bored and lonely on the weekends when we do not have class. As expected, last Saturday, I was both bored and lonely, but I walked around town and watched many celebrations including a wedding where the bride rode in a horse drawn carriage.
The people here are incredibly friendly and they are willing to help us learn and pronounce the words correctly. After my first class a week ago I needed a spiral note pad to take notes. (I have since gone to my computer after realizing I cannot read my own writing). I went to a small office supply store and met Isidro, and his daughter who is home from school in Mexico City for the summer.
Isidro and I started talking about my visit and when he heard I was here to learn Spanish, he offered to help me if I would help him with his English. He speaks English very well, so you know who is getting the better part of the bargain.
We practiced later in the week and I offered to take him and his daughter to lunch on Sunday at a place he picked. So, on Sunday I met he and his daughter at his store at 1:00 and we drove to Querétaro, a larger more industrial city an hour from San Miguel de Allende. (As an aside, I am still struggling to pronounce Querétaro correctly. It kind of sounds like kay ray tear o, but not exactly).
Throughout the afternoon, Isidoro spoke to me in Spanish and explained what he had said in English if I didn’t understand.
During my first week here, I experienced challenges trying to remember words and pronouncing the Spanish words correctly. Like everything else I have attempted in life, I worked incredibly hard, but in this case, I don’t believe I worked smartly or strategically.
As a result, I had so much floating around in my brain that I could barely remember how to tell people my name in Spanish. The last time I processed this much information was when I took the bar exam in 1971.
Over last weekend, I focused on figuring out a more strategic plan to learn. As result, I decided to work on vocabulary and pronunciation with one-on-one with my favorite teacher, Teresa.
Yesterday, during our four hours of class, I understood what the teachers and my classmates were saying. It was huge fun. I must have felt the same way when I was a young boy and finally figured out how to throw a baseball. So, as we say here at the school, I’m getting it poco a poco (little by little), but the joy of getting it a little is great.
In my search on how to learn, I found a quote from a very famous foreign language teacher, Michel Thomas.
“What you understand, you know. What you know, you don’t forget.” – Michel Thomas
The Defense Language Institute says it takes about 600 hours to become relatively proficient in a language. I read elsewhere that it is one hour of class to two hours of personal study. You can understand why many people give up before they become proficient. I don’t believe I will be proficient after four weeks of class. It will take more later.
The key of course is motivation. I like to say you have to have a big enough “why” to stick with it. In my case, my big enough “why” to learning Spanish is simply to prove to myself I can do it. i don’t need it for my work. I can get by without it when we travel to Mexico. But, I’m driven to prove to myself I can do it.
To stay motivated, I create a list of goals each day on what I want to accomplish and before I go to bed, I review my list. But, it takes more than motivation.
So, my questions are:
- Do you have a big enough why to stick with your client development efforts.
- Have you figured out what areas you need to improve?
- If what you are doing is not working, have you thought about a different strategy?
- Are you working hard to get better, or are you focused and working strategically?
- Would it help to set goals for each day on what you want to accomplish?
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