There are so many ways to learn a language.
The most extreme way is to go and live in the country of the language you want to learn.

I did this when I was 24. I went to Barcelona, following in the footsteps of a good friend who seemed to be having such a good time out there. Honestly, though, my real motivation was to speak better Spanish.
So I was determined to get the most out of the experience.

I was teaching English to young people and adults as my main job so there I was likely to meet lots of other English teachers. Great for the social life but not so great for my Spanish.
So, I made sure I got accommodation with Spanish people
After much searching (this was pre-internet) I got a room in a flat with 3 Spanish girls – result!!

The drawback was it was situated right at the end of a metro line so the furthest point possible from the city centre – it made it tough to get taxis home after a night out – often taxis refused to go out that far.

But it was worth it to get to practice my Spanish on a daily basis and find out more about Spanish culture and way of life. Pilar Marta and Ester introduced me to lots of Spanish dishes, the habit of wearing ‘chandal’ in the flat (the equivalent of lounge wear) and going out for coffee.

One afternoon, Marta suggested we all have a coffee and I went immediately into the kitchen to oblige by putting some water on to boil (no kettle, you see). she found this hilarious as she had meant we all get dressed up and go down to the café outside.
Once outside seated with our coffees I decided to try out giving a compliment as the chicas had all got so dressed up.
So I turned to Marta, who was wearing a very nice dress and had curled her hair, ‘Eres muy guapa’
She burst out laughing! ‘Qué has dicho!, pues muchas gracias, Raquel!.
What was the hilarity all about?

I had told her she was gorgeous because I had used the verb ‘ser’ which is for permanent qualities. I should have used the verb ‘estar’ (temporary moods, states) to mean ‘you are looking lovely today’ it was funny but it was a great way of demonstrating the difference between the usage of the 2 verbs – even though I thought I had understood it before.

So if you want to tell someone, you are beautiful use: Eres guapa
And if you want to compliment them on how they are looking today
use: Estás guapa.

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