Thursday, June 13, 2024


The key to truly experiencing Mexico’s culture

Do you feel like speaking Spanish is a huge insurmountable obstacle, but you really love Mexico – its culture, people and enchiladas? Because of the language barrier, do you feel like you won’t move to this beautiful country or travel easily through Mexico?

As a multilingual translator and interpreter, I want to tell you that I feel and understand you since I was in your place a few years ago, but with YOUR language. Here are some of the tools that helped me move from point A (where you find yourself right now) to point B (a place where you feel confident “hablando español”) so you can embrace all the flavors that Mexico offers, blend in with Mexicans, and start to communicate effectively and naturally. 

I’d like to start this journey with you with the first crucial tool: mindset.

Please bear with me. It won’t take long.

We can all learn a new language. The fact that you are speaking English today, is proof that you can acquire Spanish, French, Italian, or any other language. We were born with no language; the thing is that through your parents’ early input, subconsciously you trained your ear enough to start speaking your mother tongue. With this in mind, do you think you would be speaking Chinese if you were born in China? Absolutely yes.  

In order to acquire a language, we first need to debunk the myths “or “desmentir los mitos”).

The first and most important myth:

“It is impossible for an adult to learn a new language”. Wrong.

There is a thing called neuroplasticity, which is the ability of neural networks in the brain to change and re-adapt. It offers the potential for each and every one of us to think differently, acquire new knowledge, forget painful experiences, and essentially adapt to anything that life brings us by becoming better. Science explains that from the day we are born to age 25, our neuroplasticity is at its peak, creating and wiring connections together, but after this age, we have to put extra effort in order for these connections to keep rewiring themselves. So, while it might feel harder to learn a new language as an adult, the brain does not lose the ability to create new connections. The good news is that learning Spanish as an adult is possible. 

Our best ally to help us achieve our goal of learning a language “es tener un por qué” (“having a why”). We have to trigger ourselves with reasons why we must learn the language, and we have to create those reasons for ourselves.

An example that has worked wonders for me is thinking: “If I don’t learn the language, I will never be able to ask for help if I find myself in a difficult situation in Mexico.”

“I won’t be able to talk to that person I really liked at that restaurant.” (Psst … I met the love of my life thanks to the fact that we both spoke another language, but this is another story).

“I will lose job opportunities because I can’t hold a proper conversation.”

Or the simple fact that you won’t be able to travel at ease and experience the humor and the wit hidden in the language itself to have a sense of the authentic Mexican experience. I encourage you to write down your reasons and visualize vividly missing all those wonderful experiences and let them all be the essence of why you want to learn Spanish.

I’m so looking forward to sharing stories and articles that will help you learn some Spanish words and phrases that will help you move around this culturally rich country.

Paulina Gerez is a translator-interpreter, content creator, and founder of Crack The Code, a series of online courses focused on languages. Through her social media, she helps people see learning a language from another perspective through her fun experiences. Instagram: paulinagerezm / Tiktok: paugerez3 / YT: paulina gerez 

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