Having finished the "Basic Needs" section of my Spanish lessons, I am now learning greetings. I know, that seems a bit backwards, but I get it. If I were dropped in the middle of a Spanish-speaking community with no interpreter I would need to find a hotel, taxi, food, water, etc... more than I would need to ask how someone is doing and tell them I am doing well (or not so well, having been mysteriously dropped into the middle of a Spanish speaking community with no interpreter).
The thing about learning something brand new is I want to use it. But I'm terrified to do so. I have a favorite Texaco station. It's owned by a Mexican family and I go there to buy Manzana Lift, an apple soda I fell in love with when I was 16 and took a mission trip to Mexico. Last time I went in, I wanted to say something in Spanish, but I didn't.
For starters, I barely speak any Spanish. I might manage to say hello and confess my love for Manzana Lift, but they already know of my love for the stuff. I go in and buy three bottles at a time and nothing else ever. And what do I do when they reply in Spanish and I can't understand them because I have not gotten that far in my lessons? How stupid would I feel then? Not to mention, the little bit of Spanish I can speak is about the same as any other clueless white lady manages. Somehow, saying "hola" and "gracias" to a group of Mexican women makes me feel even more white and American than speaking English.
I think this is why learning is hard for so many people. It requires a certain level of discomfort. You have to risk looking dumb in order to get smart. Experience teaches, but sometimes it teaches with tools like humiliation and pain.
These are not tools I relish being used on me.