The Catalan government broadcasts a commercial on television urging immigrants to learn Catalan. If you live in a country, you have to learn the language of that country, isn’t it? I completely agree with this point of view, but then why don’t I speak Catalan myself????

When I decided to move to Catalunya, of course I decided to learn the local language.

Over here, there are two languages spoken: Spanish, which is the official language, and Catalan, which the people living here all speak in daily life.

I decided to opt for Spanish for a number of reasons. First of all, Catalunya is not so big, and Lleida is close to the border of Catalunya; if I drive 25 kilometres I am in a Spanish speaking area. Furthermore, Spanish is a language spoken all over the world, at least more than Catalan, and all people here speak Spanish besides Catalan.

The only drawback of my decision is that I have to learn to understand Catalan anyway, since this is what all people speak over here, but that has happened just by listening to the people and living with them.

So after almost one and a half year living here I speak Spanish really well, don’t I? Well, not…

The fact is that I hardly have studied since I lived here. I wanted to follow a language course, but all courses I could find started at hours on which I usually still am working.

So I depend on self-study. I have some books and CD’s, and with a little bit of self-discipline it should work. Right! So the problem is my famous (lack of) self discipline.

Seeing the advertisement of the Catalan Government made me realise my miserable level of Spanish. I think I am going to look around for a Spanish course again, because this has to change!

Jeroen Sangers @jeroensangers

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