Why I could not learn Maltese in a decade yet learn Spanish in 1 Year

Recently a Maltese friend was visiting and he said "wow you really learnt spanish eh?". This is the same friend/colleague who was one of the few people in Malta who tried to speak to me only in Maltese in the hope that I would pick up Maltese. And I guess I did. After a decade I got to the point where I could follow a conversation but for the love of God, I could never speak and believe me I have tried, and failed so many times while with Spanish, knowing a bit of Italian [learnt from school in Malta no less] helped a bit. Grasping for words I would just throw in the italian word and hope the poor spaniard trying to undrestand me catches it.

Why did I fail at Maltese?

I blame you the Maltese. A foriegner trying to talk in Maltese will get:

  • Laughed at - You become the center of attraction. And if you know enough Maltese, you might even understand them say words to the effect of "Oh look at that foriegner, he sounds so stupid talking in Maltese.
  • Immediately corrected and the whole ordeal becomes a Maltese Lesson and what you were trying to say gets lost and ultimately we go back to the first point because most of the time, they will come up with some words that you will not be able to pronounce , yet they find it amusing that you can not say it.
  • Some Maltese actually seem to hate their own language and prefer to speak in English!

Contrast to the Spanish Language Experience.

The spanish on the other hand do not care if you say something in the wrong grammar. And they do not find a foreigner trying to learn spanish being stupid. They understand that not knowking thier language has no bearing whatsoever to one's intellegence. The conversation does not turn into a grammar lesson. At the very most, the person will repeat what you said in the correct way to make sure he or she has understood you.