My language journey

three students talking

When we talk about a 'journey', we don't always mean travelling to different places. We can use the word 'journey' to talk about experiences in our personal development. When we start learning a language, we can say that we begin a 'language journey'. Read what some different people say about their language journeys.

At school I wasn't very good at English, and I wasn't particularly interested until I went on holiday to the UK and discovered British pop music. From then on, I learned a lot just by listening to my favourite bands and singers. As a student in Paris, I loved speaking to Americans, British people – anyone who I could chat to in English. Then, when I lived in London for a few years, my English really improved. Now I use English every day at work, and in my free time I read a lot online and listen to podcasts in English. And of course I still love the music!

When we were in our 20s, my partner and I decided to go travelling in Latin America. For me, there was no question – I had to learn Spanish before the trip! I was a complete beginner when I started taking evening classes, but a year later I had enough basic Spanish to make myself understood. On the trip I was able to communicate with people, even though I was a long way off being able to speak fluently. But at times I felt frustrated because I wished I could have more complex conversations – I just didn't have enough vocabulary and grammar to say what I wanted. Since then, I haven't had time to keep up my Spanish and unfortunately I can't speak nearly as well as I used to. Last year I started learning again, using an app, but I really need a conversation partner to be able to practise and improve. I'm hoping to go to classes again one day.

When I was 20, I went to live and study Tibetan in Nepal for a year. I took classes before going there, continued in Kathmandu and also lived with a family there for a couple of months. I found Tibetan difficult but fun. I didn't have that much trouble learning the script and spelling (which is complex), but I found it hard to understand what other people were saying. There were different accents, and then the grammar they used seemed different from the grammar I learned! I got to an intermediate level after ten months. Later on I studied literary Tibetan in graduate school for several years. It sometimes felt more like code breaking than language learning! I haven't used Tibetan much since then, but I like looking at it sometimes, and I still understand some. When I saw a film from Bhutan, I was pleased to understand some phrases. Bhutanese and Tibetan are different, but related.

I studied Portuguese and Spanish at university. After two years of learning Portuguese with a teacher from Lisbon, I went to Brazil to study for six months. For the first two or three days, I couldn't understand anything or anyone! The accent was really different, and I discovered that Brazilian Portuguese is quite different from the Portuguese I'd learned. After a few days, though, everything clicked into place and I began to understand. I love that feeling when you learn a new language – when suddenly you can understand and be understood. It's a real breakthrough that makes all the hard work worth it!

Tell us about you!

  • How has your English journey been so far? 
  • Where and how did it start? 
  • What have the challenges been? 
  • What are your proudest achievements? 
  • Where do you want to go next?

Write a comment or record a voice message and let us know!

Replying to other users' comments is a great way to practise interaction and conversation skills. Press 'reply' to write a reply to a comment that you find interesting.

If you want to practise speaking, you can record your response using SpeakPipe voice recorder and post a link to the recording in your comment.

Go to SpeakPipe voice recorder

* Recordings are kept on SpeakPipe server for three months. Please don't include any music in your recording.


Average: 5 (2 votes)
Profile picture for user Yerikhoable

Submitted by Yerikhoable on Thu, 14/09/2023 - 02:09


The first time I studied English was in 1989 when I was in 7 grade. It was my father who first introduced it to me. I felt frustrated when I found out that much of the pronunciation was different from the spelling. It was all Greek to me.
With the passage of time, I gradually learn the structure of the language. I scored well during written test from junior secondary level up to university.
However, I didn't have a good pronunciation that blocked my opportunity to apply for English teaching position.
Things started to change when I joined teacher exchange to Australia in 2020 and joined a workshop held by British Council and TEFLIN in 2022. My listening and speaking skill has improved significantly since then.

Hi Yerikhoable, 

It's lovely to hear that your listening and speaking skills have improved since attending the workshop. Does this now mean that you can apply for the teaching position that you wanted?

~ Tina ツ
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by HadeelKR99 on Thu, 07/09/2023 - 18:20


We start learn english from school , but I wasn't interested to learn more or speak confidence , when I grow up and moved to UAE it was important to speak in english because it is the main communication language her , I start learn to speak more confidence from tow months here on this website , it is very helpful , I've moved from A2 to B1 level ,it's great for me , l am going to continue learning and practice speaking to get advance leave , I hope that .

Submitted by User_1 on Thu, 07/09/2023 - 14:35


About questions:
1. How has your English journey been so far?
So far, my English journey has been challenging and full of obstacles, and I still do not know if I am able to communicate at least quite well.
2. Where do you want to go next?
Although I know reading is one of the best ways to improve my vocabulary, for the chance to encounter some new words as I read, I feel hard even if short text.
I always try to make myself read "little and often" with big efforts.
I wish all my hard work in reading could help me become more familiar with my English speaking as well...

Hi User_1,

'little and often' sounds like a good way to approach reading until it becomes easier. You've described how much you work at this in other comments and I hope that gradually you find your study brings you results.

Many learners underestimate the importance of improving their listening before trying to improve their speaking, so I'd encourage you to experiment with the 'little and often' approach to listening as well. There are so many things you can listen to on the internet; you could, for example, search for topics that interest you in YouTube. (And we of course have lots of resources in our Skills and General English sections.)

Improving your listening might also help your reading in that it should expand your vocabulary and even grammar!

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Hi Kirk,
Thanks for your reply.
I have tried to explain that reading is more challenging for me than listening.
To improve my listening scares me less than reading.
I am grateful for your support.