To Be Fluent is a blog about language learning.

I’m currently documenting my journey to fluency in Spanish. I’m also an on-again-off-again Tagalog learner, an Esperanto dabbler and an Italian newbie. I share resources, tips, hints and musings on language learning, mostly from a student’s perspective – although sometimes my teacher alter-ego might sneak out. I’ll try to control her, but teachers can be so bossy.

About me

WP_000024 - CopyMy name is Stephanie. I’m fluent in French and English, reasonably competent in Spanish, and am currently working on adding a few more languages to that list.

I’m happily married and live with my husband in Ontario, Canada.

I’ve been teaching French since graduating from teacher’s college in 2003. I’ve spent nine years teaching French immersion in public schools, and two years teaching full-time year-long adult French classes on a military base. I’m currently teaching first grade, which is my favourite grade to teach. Each age group has its perks. Kids are funny and curious and bring cupcakes on their birthdays. Grown-ups are eager to learn and hard-working and don’t leave the classroom smelling like sandwiches. It’s a trade-off.

About the photo in my header

The wooden steps in my header are in Hot Springs Cove, on the beautiful wild western coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. I thought that the path was a good metaphor for language learning: steps up and down, not quite straight, taking you through a beautiful world.

Why Spanish? 

In March 2014, I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain with my dad. We did the 800 km trek in a little over 5 weeks, starting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on March 17th and finishing in Santiago on April 23rd.

After deciding that I would go, I spent a month obsessing over packing lists. And I do mean obsessing. I bought a digital scale so that I could weigh my liner socks. (In case you’re curious – 31 grams per pair.) 

Then I realized that there was something that I wanted to do even more than cut my bag weight down by another 10%: wanted to learn Spanish before going. I didn’t want to just pick up enough Spanish to pay for a bed or order a coffee. I wanted to be able to communicate, far beyond surface-level tourist talk.

When I started in late May 2013, I had ten months to become fully functional in Spanish.

I met my goals and was able to communicate without difficulty during my hike. I made mistakes, of course, but I was able to talk to people – which is my number one goal in language learning.

Now, I’m focusing on bringing my Spanish skills to a solid advanced level, using massive input from novels, podcasts and TV shows, as well as once-weekly Skype tutoring sessions.

My long-term goal is to be fully fluent in Spanish.

Why Tagalog?

My husband is originally from the Philippines, and his family (all of whom are Canadian citizens) all speak Tagalog. So after reaching a comfortable level in Spanish, it made sense to make Tagalog my second foreign language. I’m advancing much more slowly in Tagalog than I did in Spanish, mainly due to the fact that I keep quitting. I started learning Tagalog in May 2014, and I would still classify myself as a beginner.

My long-term goal is to fully understand conversational Tagalog.

Why Italian?

I’m going to Italy for ten days in July 2016. Do I really need more of a reason than that?

Why Esperanto?

Errrr…can I get back to you on that one?

Ready to learn some languages?


Camino de Santiago image via Fresco Tours on flickr.