Sometimes it’s best to stay in your comfort zone


One of the things that I still haven’t got used to, even after many years of living in Spain, is the number of public holidays there are here. Yesterday was All Saints’ Day where people traditionally visit the tombs of family members to give them a quick clean. Not having any deceased relatives here, myself and a group of friends spent the long weekend in the country with a plan to roast a whole sheep on an open fire. That explains the photo.

A great opportunity to practice some Spanish, you might think. Well, with 15 adults, 3 children, the village cat and enough supplies to keep us going for 3 days, things were a bit chaotic. Being mixed in with a group of friends who all know each other and talk non-stop without any concessions to the poor foreigner resulted in an unproductive time. Good fun, but not much useful Spanish conversation practice.

I think this is one of those occasions where staying in my comfort zone would have given better results. I am much more comfortable talking one-on-one or with a handful of people, and I tend to say a lot more in these situations. A big crowd or a noisy bar is simply not the right place for getting valuable Spanish practice, no matter how many times you are told to get out and meet people. If we are judging purely on language practice value, then 20 minutes conversation in the right setting beats 4 hours of hectic socializing.