I was born into an English-speaking family in the United States. When I was 14 I started to learn Spanish in high school. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but fortunately I had an outstanding teacher. Over the course of the next few years I picked up a lot of vocabulary. Poco a poco — little by little — I acquired a considerable amount of Spanish, enough for me to keep studying in college.

My sophomore year at Washington State University (Go Cougs!) I studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador. That experience changed my life. Not only did it provide me with an opportunity to hone my skills in Spanish, but it also stretched me to grow as a person in ways I didn’t know were possible.

After college I earned an M.A. in Foreign Languages and Cultures. There I honed my skills in Spanish, but more importantly I made lifelong friends, many of whom I consider family to this day. They all helped me get so much better at Spanish and they also taught me so much about living life to the fullest.

One afternoon in grad school a good friend of mine sent me a link to a song in English and Portuguese. For some reason this song spoke to me and made me fall in love with the Portuguese language.

During my M.A. program I studied language pedagogy, the teaching of second languages, and learned the theory behind how we learn languages. It turns out the way most people are taught a second language (*cough* explicit grammar instruction *cough*) is inefficient at best, and inhibitive to language acquisition at worst. The key to language acquisition, it turns out, is to hear (and read) as many comprehensible messages as possible. Eventually your instincts build up enough that you no longer have to think about how to say things, and instead you just think about the message you want to communicate.

With this knowledge in mind, I started to study Portuguese on my own. My main strategy has been to do about 10 minutes of Duolingo, read compelling books (O Alquimista) and watching TV (3%).

The results have been fantastic! I’m not perfect (nobody is), but I tell you what, I’m even more excited about this language acquisition thing than ever before.

Now I want to share my language learning experiences with you. My wins and losses. My triumphs and failures. My milestones and setbacks. It’s going to be fun, and daunting, and embarrassing, and everything in between. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

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