International House Charlotte – A Language Journey

“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.” – H Jackson Brown


There is a little known place in Charlotte called The International House. Sitting quietly off of Central Ave near Plaza Midwood, their purpose is to welcome people of all nationalities both to Charlotte, and the US, and to help them succeed in their new life in the States.

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In addition to a slew of other programs, they also offer “language hours”, which is simply a meet-up group dedicated to learning another language. You are given both a place to meet, and a native speaker or facilitator in each class who is there to help with verbiage and grammar corrections.

And it’s free!

They offer these meet-ups in many languages, including Spanish, Russian, Farsi, Chinese, Igbo and Japanese.

Yesterday was my first day back in almost a year. However, throughout 2017, you could find me there almost every week.

It was these classes, along with private instruction through LiveLingua with a teacher in Argentina, that allowed me to quickly learn Spanish.

I used DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone, like many others, but at least for me, it was the actual talking that made it all click.

Certainly I have a long way to go, but I am able to navigate Spanish speaking countries, and have long, sometimes in depth, conversations with Spanish only speakers. I’ll take that as a symbol of success.

Learning another language has been one of the greatest joys of my life. It makes travel more rewarding and pleasurable, foreign movies without subtitles watchable, and opened up an entirely new friendship base in another country that, otherwise, would have been impossible. Pura Vida!

Similar to the feeling of “being more present” that travel in general provides through the necessity to actually pay attention to your surroundings, learning a new language has proven to provide the same. And not only while traveling, but when on the streets, in an elevator, or overhearing the dinner conversation next to you. Time abound to be fascinated!

If you’ve ever dreamed of learning a new language. My steadfast advice to you would be to do it. Do it now. It’s never too late…I started at 37… to uncover the hidden world that has, most likely, always been surrounding you.


PS- If Spanish is your thing, here was my plan of attack. Perhaps it would work for you as well, and likely for any other language.

Phase 1 – DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone: I used these every day when starting out. 30 min each, first thing in the morning.

Phase 2 – YouTube and local language hours: Butterfly Spanish on YouTube was invaluable. I would watch one lesson a week and try to implement it each day. At the same time I began attending the language hours, which aided in the implementation.

Phase 3 – LiveLingua: these one on one classes over Skype provided the real breakthrough. But, it wouldn’t have been as fruitful had I not had the foundation of the first two phases. Twice a week, for an hour each, my instructor and I would split time between homework correction…yes homework!… and just casual conversation.

See you on the journey…

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