I am a senior in high school, and I’ve been learning Spanish for TECHNICALLY 4 years now, although it feels a bit more like one and a half or so. My freshman year I started with Spanish 1 and hated it and was terrible (I could barely conjugate regular verbs in present tense, and I for sure could not understand anything I read), but took it because I had to get my high school language requirements to graduate. The summer before sophomore year, however, I found polyglots on YouTube and started considering learning languages for the fun of it. Before I knew it I had found Duolingo and later LingQ, and was up to 2 or 3 thousand known words. Sophomore year I took Spanish 2, thinking it would be better since I knew Spanish at a much higher level (still relatively low) than I did taking Spanish 1. What upset me, though, is that it ended up just being extremely boring with me knowing way more than the class, but finding I knew way less Spanish than I thought I did, since hitting 2000 words on LingQ made me feel confident. After that class, I still enjoyed Spanish on my own, so I researched opportunities to study abroad, and actually ended up going abroad for a month the summer before my junior year.
My experience abroad can be a whole 5 more posts by itself, so I’ll spare you here, but what I learned is that being abroad doesn’t automatically teach you the language. After being abroad for a month and learning practically nothing, I had a newfound motivation for LingQ, raising my known words to around 10,000 in the few months after getting back from Spain. I ended up learning way more Spanish on my own in the months after leaving Spain than I did living with a host family and going to Spanish class every day in Spain. I did not have room in my high school schedule Junior year to take Spanish.
Fast forward to this year, with me finishing up my last month of high school. This year I took AP Spanish 5 (skipped 3 and 4 with special permission) and absolutely hated it. It demotivated me, took time away from self-study, and honestly did not do much for my Spanish level. Every single person in my class was a native speaker with me being the only generic white kid in there, yet I mostly heard English when people conversed. I completely stopped using LingQ because I didn’t have time and I didn’t feel like learning Spanish anymore due to class being so boring and tedious.
Basically this has convinced me that language is not meant to be taught, but to be absorbed and developed on ones own. I just posted my second ever YouTube video in Spanish, and I will post the link here in case you’d like to hear my updated level (my improvisation needs a lot of work). Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from any of you about your experience.