How did I managed to not be able to speak English after having studied it for more than ten years

When I was eleven years old, as every other child in those days, I started learning English at school.

My grades in English were very good. I had no problems with grammar, neither with spelling.

But it seemed that there was an important ingredient missing in that recipe.

When I was 16, my grades in English were not brilliant but they were good. It was like before but we did some listening as well and it was hard to me. I wasn’t trained at all.

But in those days it was enough for High School.

Some years later, while I was in the university, I attended several English learning programs. It was this way that almost everyone around was trying to learn English. I was improving.

But in that recipe there was something missing yet and I could not continue that way. I had to do something about that.

What could I do?

I decided to go to an English speaking country to go on my language learning journey (I think that what I actually wanted was to experience travelling and being abroad on my own).

And so, when I arrived in Ireland, I realised that I wasn’t able to have a simple conversation in the language that I had studied for as long as eleven years. I was blocked when I wanted to speak.

How much time and money had we (my parents, the governement and me) invested for having so little results ? After 11 years studying English, I could not speak it. Can you imagine that ?

It was twenty years ago. I was around 23 years old and I arrived in Dublin on my own. I wanted to have my first natural contact with the English language.

Natural. I said natural because as you know I had been studying English half my life but it was an academic approach to the language. It was not a natural approach.

Therefore I could not speak it. Incredible!

Incredible?

Maybe.

Or maybe not.

I was not the only one with this problem. Indeed, it was very-very common.

Our generation was trained in grammar and our vocabulary was large enough.

But, what about conversation skills?

I must admit it: close to zero.

I guess that you have studied at least one language that is not your mother tongue. And I bet that you know how the feeling is when you can not express what you want to. That is IMPOTENCE.
And this impotence and frustration grows painfully when you ask yourself about all the time and money invested in more than one decade. Puff!

I would have preferred to know half I knew and be able to use all that that half.

With one tenth of the investment in time and money, I could have had a proper conversation with that interesting and beautiful Polish girl I met in West Cork.(cry)

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