I was raised in a Latvian household, so I grew up bilingual. I spoke Latvian at home and with my family, and used English for all other situations. Lucky for me, I grew up around other bilingual kids as well. Being exposed to so many different cultures from such a young age really sparked my interest in foreign languages. I studied Spanish for three years in high school. Since then, my only practice has been using Duolingo, my favorite language learning app. I never had much practical experience using Spanish until I moved to Europe.
One of my reasons for applying to the Castilla y Leon program was having the opportunity to improve my Spanish - and what excellent opportunities it has given me. My host family doesn't speak much English, so I almost always communicate with them by speaking Spanish. At first, I was stressed that I wouldn't be able to clearly express my thoughts, but they have been very supportive and patient with me. Just from this situation alone, I've felt my language skills increase dramatically. It also helps that the school I work at offers me a few hours of Spanish classes per week. I try to take every opportunity I can to speak Spanish, whether it be going to the supermarket, eating at a restaurant, asking for help when traveling, meeting new people, or something else.
My Spanish is far from perfect, but the least I can do is try. I try to refrain from asking people "Hablas inglés?" unless I need to communicate something important. Of course, I came to Spain to teach English, but also to learn Spanish. What helps me is writing down and memorizing phrases for specific situations, such as those that I mentioned before. Once I get used to using these phrases, I start to pick up on the different kinds of responses I get. In turn, I start to understand more about grammar. I've found this to be a great way for learning any language. If you are serious about learning a new language, find a way to immerse yourself within a society that uses that language. You might find it stressful at first, but all of a sudden you will be presented with infinite opportunities to practice and get better. As for feeling nervous or awkward about your language abilities, my piece of advice is to not worry and just speak. There is no success without failure. The more comfortable you become with failing, the more you will grow.