A Day Without Speaking English

There is a story I have been telling myself.

I lie really. It goes something like this: “It’s hard to learn Spanish in Puerto Vallarta because so many people speak English! I will learn so much faster in Mexico City!”

Now, that last part may be true.

I do think I will learn a lot faster whenever we move to Mexico City. However, the idea that it is hard to learn Spanish in Vallarta because so many speak English is pretty laughable.

In order to test this “story”, if you will, I set out on a task!

Yesterday I decided that I was not going to speak English all day!

I really had no idea how it would go. I knew that it would be difficult at times, but I was not sure how the experiment would go or what I would learn along the way.

The ground rules were simple:

  • I was not allowed to speak English
  • I was not allowed to read books or blogs in English
  • I was not allowed to watch videos or shows in English
  • And I could not write in English

If at any time I broke one of these rules I would have to do 10 burpees. This meant just a few mistakes could lead to several minutes of pain!

So what did I learn?

Communicating with Hillary was harder than I thought it would be. For most matters, everything went well. I would have to repeat myself or she would have to repeat what she thought I was saying, but we were able to figure it out. However, for those times that we just couldn’t get on the same page, we both wanted to rip our hair out (see video).

Aside from being great practice for me, Hillary learned a ton as well! She had to listen to Spanish being spoken way more often that normal for her so she quickly picked up on a few key words and phrases!

In the process of trying to communicate with Hillary I had great practice figuring out different ways to say things. This was a very unexpected benefit as I was forced to find the easiest and most simple way to attempt to explain something. That is probably a skill I could use even in English!

One of the most important things I learned that was pretty much as soon as I told myself that I wasn’t speaking English, it was if my brain flipped a switch and I only thought in Spanish! I definitely did not expect that to happen!

In a normal day in which I go through my study routine, I might study Spanish for 1.5-2 hours plus 45 minutes of Netflix in Spanish.

That is a good day of studying.

Yesterday I did all of that AND only spoke and interacted in Spanish, pushing my total study/practice time to closer to 6-8 hours! If I studied for that many hours every single day I would be fluent in no time!

In all, I didn’t wake up the next day fluent in Spanish, but I do feel that I made a huge leap in my abilities in using the language. If nothing else, I learned that what I thought were my limits, were simple the edges of my comport zone. If you are trying to learn a new language, give this a try! You will be amazed at how quickly you will adapt and learn on the fly! Sure, you may annoy your spouse for an entire day, but you probably already do that anyways so what do you have to lose?

Oh yeah, how many burpees did I have to do? 


8 mistakes in all isn’t too bad except for that the last 2 were made at the very end of the challenge!

We will see you tomorrow on Facebook, Youtube, or somewhere else on the interwebs.

Until then,

Keep it Kinetic

Greg and Hillary

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