When you start learning a language and then visit the country, one of two things can happen (usually both do):
You get a boost of confidence as you can understand people speaking, and be understood.
You become demotivated if you cannot hold a conversation in your new language.
I moved to France to learn French. I regularly felt boosted and demotivated (sometimes on the same day). After 4 years there, I thought my French was pretty good. I recently took a test to gauge my French level and my score came out as pre intermediate 🙁 (I think there was a mistake) very deflating! However, yesterday I took a book out from the library – L’etranger by Albert Camus and found that I could understand most of the first few pages (with a little help from a dictionary) so I felt motivated again. See how easy it is to swing from motivation to demotivation and vice versa?
One of the common myths about learning a language is that it is hard. It isn’t, we all did it, but it took a long time. Learning a second language is a long process.
It depends largely on your expectations. You may wish to learn the basics to communicate on holiday, which is easily achievable with a simple beginners’ course. If your goals are to achieve a level of fluency, this will take longer. Gruff Davis from Kwiziq.com reports it takes more than 600 hours of study to reach fluency. It is quicker if you immerse yourself in the language by living in the country, but the reality for those of us who attend weekly classes and live in England, it will take longer.
The good news is there are things we can do to help us:
listen to the radio or to audio books in your chosen language (even if you don’t understand everything)
Don’t worry about looking or sounding silly.
My friend once told me she is good at speaking languages because she is a good actress. You need to mimic, therefore feeling silly means you are doing something right.
Congratulate yourself on each success
Eat and sleep well (these all help your cognition)
Good luck with learning your chosen language!