Your Learning Purpose and The Camino de Santiago


- [Voiceover] Welcome to The Effortless English Show

with the world's number one English teacher, AJ Hoge

where AJ's more than 40 million students worldwide

finally learn English once and for all

without the boring textbooks, classrooms

and grammar drills.

Here's AJ with a quick piece to help you learn

to speak fluent English effortlessly.

- Hello, I'm AJ Hoge,

the author of Effortless English:

Learn to Speak English like a Native

and this is The Effortless English Show,

the show that teaches you to speak English powerfully.

And I am finally back after a long break.

As some of you know

that what I was doing during my break

was walking the Camino de Santiago.

What is the Camino de Santiago?

Well, it's a walking path in northern Spain.

But it's more than just a walking path.

It's actually an old pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage is a spiritual

or religious trip or journey.

For example,

Muslims have a pilgrimage to Mecca, right?

They're not just going to Mecca for tourism.

It has a deeper meaning.

So that's what a pilgrimage is.

In India, Hindus have pilgrimages;

Buddhists have pilgrimages.

Well, this was an old Christian pilgrimage,

especially about, you know, thousand years ago or so.

People used to walk along northern Spain

because at the end, the end point of the walk,

the end of the Camino de Santiago,

there's a big church.

And inside that church are the bones,

the body of Saint James.

I'm not Catholic but I just did it as a

I don't know, still as a deeper journey,

an opportunity to walk across Spain,

as a kind of walking meditation.

I went with my good friend, Joe,

from Learn Real English,

so it was also a chance to travel with him

and have an experience with him.

So I thought, in this show,

I'm gonna do something a little different.

Normally, I talk about learning English, but

many people have asked me about my trip,

so I thought I would share some of the videos

that I took during my trip,

because during the trip, I took a few videos.

Every several days, I would take a video

and talk to the camera

and talk about what was happening.

So this is an opportunity for me to share

some of my experiences in Spain

just about a month ago.

Let's start with the first video.

The first video comes from France.

We actually started in a little town in France

just over the Pyrenees Mountains.

It's just a, like six seconds long;

it just shows me

the day we began, it's Joe and I

starting our Camino.

Here it is.

We're beginning the Camino.

Okay, well that's it.

We're beginning the Camino.

But you can see, this is a little town called

St. Jean Pied de Port.

I don't know how to pronounce it correctly in French.

But it's this little town and it's

one of the most traditional starting points

for the Camino de Santiago.

And this is just an old little town,

and this is where we started

and this was the morning we started.

The next video is several days later.

I can't remember,

it was day four maybe of our pilgrimage.

And it's a famous point on the Camino.

In the camino, you walk to these paths,

first we went up and over the Pyrenees Mountains,

which was a beautiful walk, that first day.

Then we went to the town of Pamplona,

and then finally, we reached this point called

the Alto de Perdon.

It has a nice sculpture.

It's on top of this hill.

If you ever see the movie, The Way,

there's a movie called The Way

with Martin Sheen,

it's about the Camino de Santiago.

So if you like, if this is interesting to you,

I recommend rent or buy The Way

and you can use my movie technique,

using that movie, The Way.

And my movie technique is described in my book,

if you don't know what the movie technique is.

All right, so this is the famous point along the Camino.

I'll show you the video now.

Hello, it's day four of the Camino.

We are at the Alto de Padron, I believe it's called

or Perdon,

Alto de Perdon,

which is a big top of a big hill;

very windy up here, there are wind turbines

you can see.

We're feeling really strong;

we had a nice rest day in Pamplona

and we are at the half-way point for today

onward to Puente de Reina,

which is our next stop.

And you can see behind us the statues,

the canvas sculpture, iron sculpture of

pilgrims, you know, walking into the wind

which is famous little

waymark, or landscape mark

on the Camino.

We're doin' well, havin' a great time.

So as you can see

that landscape was very beautiful,

these big, these green hills.

For most of the Camino,

we're walking through the countryside.

The beginning, we walked over the mountains.

For most of it, we were walking through

hills or plains, flat area.

And then every two or three hours,

we would walk through a small, little town,

a little Spanish town.

Most of them were beautiful towns

with the old stone buildings,

very old, 500 years old, a thousand years old,

very, very old stone buildings

from the Middle Ages and beyond,

and more recently, too.


It was one of my favorite parts,

was number one, being out in nature

and walking around every day,

and then also going through these beautiful

old stone towns in Spain, was great.


in a journey like this,

this journey took 32 days,

we walked for 32 days.

And just as in life,

just as when you were learning English,

many times when you begin

and everything feels great and you're excited, right?

Maybe, you just started off with these English lessons,

you're very excited,

or you're doing anything that's new,

and it's very easy to be excited at the beginning.

But what always happens

for anything that's a little bit difficult,

a little bit long,

anything challenging,

there are going to be some bad days,

there are going to be some tough days.

And of course, everyday on the Camino was not easy.

I also had some difficult days.

And the next day, in the next video, I describe that.

(water rippling)

So it's early morning, maybe 6:30,

and I'm up because I can't sleep.

And I've to say that the first

miserable day and evening on the Camino.

Yesterday, walking was fine, no problem,

seemed fairly easy, actually, physically.

But then when we arrived into town,

I was just feelin' pretty good.

We arrived in this town, and the town is

honestly just horrible.

We walked through,

I guess, what is basically a Spanish gado,

so just a horrible neighborhood;

lots of these teenage kids standing around

doin' nothing, not even talking,

it was kinda weird.

They're zombies (mimics zombie groan).

And there's trash everywhere.

There's trash all over here,

even by the little riverside.

Just overall kind of depressing.

And that's sad because most of the towns

have been really pretty and nice and interesting

so this one, not so much.

And we got here and all the accommodation was full

because it's the first of May, May first, it's a holiday,

so it's lots of Spanish people are traveling

so we had a hard time finding a room.

Finally found one.

Then I woke up at 5:00 a.m.

'cause Joe was snoring.

He snores every night and

usually, I can put in my iPod and kind of

get back to sleep, but

this time, even with the iPod on,

I could still hear it (sighs).

So anyway, pretty miserable

evening and night

and we'll see what happens today

because this day has happened.


As you can see, I was not in a good mood

when I made that video.

I was tired, that was very early in the morning.

I got no sleep that night.

It was a tough day.

This happens when you're learning English.

You're gonna have some tough days.

You're going to have days where you feel like

you can't speak at all.

For a while, you're excited and you feel like

you're doing well and you're improving,

and you are improving,

but then you have some bad experience,

maybe you tried talking to someone

and you can't think of what to say

or you can't understand what people are saying

and you feel depressed and (sighs)

you know, it's quite tough.

Yeah, you're gonna have those days.

Now on the Camino, the thing is

because we had that big purpose,

right, it's kind of a deep meaning

like we're gonna go all the way to Santiago,

and I could feel that this was an old

walking path, very old,

and that thousands of people,

hundreds of thousands, I don't know,

maybe more than that,

have walked this same path for over a thousand years.

And so in my mind, it was this great big purpose

to get to Santiago, the end point.

And so because I had that big purpose,

I kept going.

It was easy to keep going.

I never had the thought to quit,

not one time did I think I want to quit,

I want to stop,

even when I had a miserable day.

I just got up in the morning and (sighs)

that felt bad but, of course, I knew

I was going to continue.

And that's why with your English learning,

you also need a bigger purpose,

because if you're just doing it for a test

or a grade in school,

if you don't have that bigger purpose,

then it's very hard to keep going

when you have the difficult days.

If you don't have a big purpose,

it's easy to quit.

But if you have a big inspiring purpose,

something that excites you,

something that is deeply meaningful for you,

I don't know what that is for you,

maybe it's to get a much better job using English,

maybe it's to travel the world

and be able to speak English to people,

maybe it's to study in a university

in the United States, or Canada, or England,

or something like that, I don't know what it is

but something that excites you and inspires you,

that will keep you going.

So when you have those bad days, and you will,

you'll be able to keep going;

you'll never have the thought of quitting.

Now let's go to the next video.

(strong wind blowing)

Huh, today we are walking from Santo Domingo

to Belorado, two very small towns.

And all day today, we have a very strong head wind,

meaning, the wind is blowing directly into our face.

We'll have to fight the wind as we walk.

You can probably hear it, it's very strong.

And during the day, it's getting stronger and stronger.

So, even though today we only have

I don't know, 22, 23 kilometers,

12, 13 miles,

but it's a little difficult because of the wind.

Can't hear anything,

it's difficult to talk to each other.

On the other hand, it's cool,

not so hot,

the wind and the clouds are keeping things cool

so temperature feels nice but

'tis tough walking in this strong wind,

directly into it.

That's our report from today.

Onward to Belorado, Spain.

All right. So...

On this part of the Camino,

we were in the mountains and the hills for a while,

then we got to this very flat part,

for maybe a week,

maybe a little longer than a week, actually.

The flat part is called the Meseta,

which means table in Spanish,

it's like a flat table.

So you climb up and there's just this long, flat part.

You could see there are really no trees

on the Meseta.

So we had, I don't know,

probably more like 10 days on the Meseta,

I don't know, seven to 10 days.

We're just under the sun and there's no shade at all.

Some days it was super windy like that,

blowing in our face.

And other days, there was no wind but then the sun

was just beating on us the whole time.

And some of those days were also quite tough physically,

especially when we're under the sun the whole time

without any shade, which you'll see in a later video.

Again, you know, these are challenges that

the Camino was a mix,

just like anything that's great in my life.

I've noticed, anything that's a great experience,

a really powerful experience,

something that I remember

and have deep feelings about,

always, there's a mix of challenge

and fun and excitement.

Right, challenge and enjoyment, we could say.

So on one hand, it's very enjoyable,

the Camino was enjoyable.

I loved being out in nature walking everyday,

it was great.

I loved meeting people;

we met so many wonderful people

during the Camino de Santiago.

And I'm still emailing some of them now

because they're just such wonderful people

and I want to keep that connection.

Going to the towns, it was great.

Meeting Spanish people was great.

I got to listen to Spanish almost everyday.

You'll see me wearing earphones in many videos

'cause I was listening to Spanish lessons.

I got to chat with Spanish people

and eat the Spanish food, and all,

the whole thing was such a wonderful experience,

so enjoyable.

But with that, also,

there was also a lot of challenge, right,

difficult things.

The wind in our face at that whole day

was very difficult;

couldn't hear anything,

kinda made you crazy sometimes.

The sun beating down very hot

was difficult some days.

Just walking all those kilometers,

all of those miles,

because we were doing, you know,

on our long days, we would do 40 kilometers.

Short days, we would do less than that,

maybe 30 to 25 kilometers,

but every single day with a backpack.

That was challenging;

that was difficult sometimes.

As in the previous videos,

sometimes I couldn't sleep because

either I just couldn't sleep, I don't know why,

my body just would wake up or my mind would wake up,

or for a while, Joe was snoring a lot,

eventually we got separate rooms so that I could sleep,

but there were challenges like that constantly.

But it's overcoming the difficult things

and also enjoying the wonderful things,

that combination gives you such a wonderful

deep feeling of excitement and pride and...

It makes the experience deeper, I think.

If it was just all super easy,

maybe not as meaningful.

Next video.

So today, a very, very long day,

36, 37 kilometers walking

under the hot sun with no shade.

In fact, most of the day today was just

along this long straight dirt road

with basically no shade.

And as the day went on,

the sun got hotter and hotter.

Today, no wind but it was very, very hot.

And it felt a little bit like one of those cowboy movies,

you know, the cowboy movies where

they're walking through the desert

for hours and hours, or days, and they're thirsty

and the sun's beating down on them

and they just keep going

and there's no towns, nothing at all,

that's kind of what today was like.

But we made it.

We finally came to this little town.

The town is down on the valley so

we never could see it when we're walking on the road

until we finally made it.

Long, hot, dusty, tiring day on the Spanish Meseta.

Time for a shower, time to get some food,

drink some water and relax.

Okay. So, again, the Meseta.

What's interesting is

you know, the meseta is a plateau, right?

You go up to it; we had to climb up to the Meseta

then it becomes flat,

and then it's just flat for a long time.

That's called a plateau in English.

What's interesting is, when you're learning

English, for example, or learning anything,

you will also experience a plateau.

What happens is,

you improve quite quickly at some points,

but then, after a time of improvement,

you'll notice that everything seems to be flat.

You will continue studying,

continue listening, continue practicing,

but nothing seems to be happening.

You seem to not be improving at all.

You're just going along,

and it's kinda like my experience in Meseta.

I can just feel like it goes forever,

like this plateau will never end.

You're just going forward, going forward, going forward.

You keep practicing, you keep practicing,

in my case, I kept walking, kept walking,

and it felt endless.

And the plateaus can be quite tough,

it can be difficult to keep going

when you feel like you're never going to arrive

at another point of improvement.

But the good news is, plateaus do eventually end.

You just gotta keep going.

Next video.

(heavy footsteps, plodding)

So we are a couple hours outside of Astorga,

and I spoke too soon today.

We have one final day on the Meseta.

Today has been a long, flat day.

And in fact, we've had no shade.

There are a few little bushes and small trees,

kind of near, as you can see,

but the path has no shade at all,

as you can also see.

And so you could see that I was expecting.

I thought we were almost finished with the plateau,

we're almost arrived to the next mountains

where we're gonna go up again, but

nope, still had to keep going;

it still continued.

And this can happen in your learning, too,

where these plateaus seem like they will never end.

And there's nothing you can do during that time

but just keep practicing, keep listening.

Continue moving forward.

I promise you, eventually the plateau will end

and you will start going up again.


Well, it's the same day.

We have crossed up and over

the Cruz de Ferros,

the high point.

And we've been dropping, dropping, dropping now

for the rest of the day down into this nice valley.

Still quite dry here, lots of brush,

but again, lots of beautiful colors, wild flowers.

Again, just nice to be back in nature.

It's a hot day but

very pleasant day.

Little tough on the legs, though,

'cause we're going downhill

and we have very, very rocky tough trails

which I'll show you now.

Okay. So you could see we got up,

and we went up over this high point

then we had to go back down.

And many times,

going down was more difficult than going up,

and especially with those rocky paths,

it was very difficult on our knees and our legs going down.

But as you can see, the best thing to do when you're,

when you have a rocky time, a tough time

is to try to enjoy your surroundings.

I was noticing the wild flowers.

And you just have to enjoy the moment,

even when it's difficult.

(water rippling, birds chirping)

So, we have seven or eight days left

on the Camino.

Today, we leave the province of Castilla y Leon

and we will be going into the province of Galicia.

For more than half of the day today,

we will be walking along this road.

But it's not a busy road.

And we also have this nice stream next to us

on the other side.

We're walking through these mountain valleys.

Again, we have lots of trees,

real trees this time, not the little bushes

from the Meseta or even yesterday.

There's clearly more water here.

The trees are bigger.

We're definitely in the mountains now.

We have fairly flat walk

today for about two thirds of the day,

walking through valleys.

It should be beautiful

and quite peaceful.

And then, at the end of our very long day today,

we have the steepest climb of the Camino.

Not necessarily the highest point but the steepest--

So, you can see this point where we've gone through

some hills again, and then getting

ready to go into a very tough, big climb,

a very tough climb.

Same day (panting).

I'm now in the mountains,

in the wooded mountains.

I think this is the

the first true forest we've been in

since maybe the first week.

This is nice, we're not near any kind of highway.

This is just a mountain path, a dirt path

through the mountains, through the forest.

This is now the steep climb

that I mentioned earlier.

Now we're climbing up to the town of O'Cebrerio,

or Cebreiro, something like that.

And then

our place is just a little bit farther beyond that.

And you can tell by the way I'm breathing

it's quite a steep climb,

but it's beautiful, this is what I love;

this is my favorite part

of hiking up the Camino.

It's joy being up in the woods,

away from all the cars and buildings

and people and noise,

just out in nature.


So again I would point out

this great point that this thing, I loved it.

When we got to Galicia and all the trees,

and being out in nature walking,

at that point my body was quite tough.

And I didn't mind the tough climbing.

It really didn't feel that bad.

I was breathing heavily in that

video, but thoroughly enjoying the experience.

And I think that's just good in life in general,

that to learn how to enjoy those tough challenging times

'cause they can be quite enjoyable.

So we sometimes get in our mind that it's so

it's painful, it's bad, but

you know, that was a tough climb,

physically, that was difficult, but

at the same time, I loved it, it felt great.

I loved the exercise,

I was very much enjoying that

'cause my body was quite strong at that point.

I was enjoying all the trees,

I was enjoying just being out in the quiet of nature.

And you, too, can enjoy the process of learning English.

Even during those tough times,

it can still be fun, it can still be enjoyable.

You can love the experience.

And that really is the key

to achieving your big goals,

your big purpose, your big success:

learning to love the experience,

even the difficult parts.

All right. Next video.

This time we're getting up towards the top here.

It gives you a little scene of the top.

And then after that, we

went up and over the mountains.

It came a little more flat again, just little hills

and then we started getting very close

to our final point, Santiago.

That's a picture of the paths that we walked through.

Quite nice, huh?

(birds chirping)

So today is actually our last day on the Camino.

We have decided to push forward

and just do a long day in our last day.

We're both feeling quite strong.

The day is going quickly,

and you know, we're well-trained;

our fitness is very, very good now.

We were gonna stake near the airport

and then have a short day tomorrow but

we decided the airport probably is an uglier area

so anyway, we're on to Santiago.

We will arrive today and I'll do another video

when we arrive.

So my feelings today about the Camino,

sort of reviewing it,

really go back to the beginning

because the same things I mentioned

and loved in the beginning of the Camino

are still what I have enjoyed and still enjoying now.

So number one, the simplicity.

I just love the simplicity of

focusing on, you know, getting up, and

(foreign conversation)

just wakin' up and focusing on food,

walking each day.

None of the complications of city life

and all that.

I have hardly been online at all,

so, on a computer or anything.

So it's been fantastic.

Also, just being outdoors for most of the day.

So stop it there but

there you could see that's my last day.

I was feeling very grateful,

feeling a little sad, actually, too,

that the Camino was going to end.

And the point I said, that the thing I

still appreciated the most

was the simplicity of the Camino,

of just getting up everyday and walking outdoors,

meeting people, just chatting,

focusing on food, eating, walking,

it was not complicated.

For me, that was just absolutely wonderful.

It had a deep purpose but not complicated.

Simple. Getting back to the basic parts of life.

And I think this can apply even to learning English,

to keep it simple,

which is why when I,

in my book, Effortless English,

in the Effortless English system,

we try to make the system simple,

enjoyable and simple,

not a lot of complicated stuff.

You're not trying to memorize a lot of complicated grammar.

If it's too complicated, you can't actually use it

because it gets in your brain

but you can't use it during a real conversation.

So you want to keep your learning simple.

That why we focus mostly on listening,

lots and lots and lots of listening,

and that listening eventually leads to effortless speaking.

It's a very simple but powerful system.

And finally, you will arrive at your destination

just as I did, arriving here in Santiago.


So we made it, we are here.

This is the plaza, that is the church,

the Cathedral of Santiago.


We're going to get our official compostela,

which is like the certificate.

We gotta go to the office and show them our

little stamps that we got all along the way.

So going there now.


All right, now I'll play one more video here.

So, here again in the plaza of Santiago.

That is the Cathedral of Santiago

and now I have my compostela

which is the official certificate

that you walked the Camino.

Joe and I both have them now, so

officially at an end.

It's officially done.

Whew, it's quite a feeling of relief and gratitude.

It's quite wonderful.

I don't know, don't quite know how to

state it at the moment.

We're gonna meet up with some friends

that we've met along the way tonight, celebrate.

We'll meet a lot more friends

that we've been walking with tomorrow

and celebrate again.

And then that's all.

Bye from Santiago. We made it.

All right. And my final video.


So I'm in the Plaza de Santiago again.

This is the next day after we arrived.

Today is the 26th of May.

And this morning, we're going to the Pilgrims' Mass,

where they have the,

maybe, they might have the big famous

giant incense burner that they swing over the crowd,

or maybe not.

We've heard they may or may not do it,

but anyway, it'll be exciting and fun to see

many of the people that we walked with,

most of whom are finishing today.

Like they just saw (audio drowned out)

they're walking with quite a while in a cafe.

They just arrived this morning.

So I'm so excited to see all these people

that we met and connected with

during the Camino.

And I think I'm gonna finish there because you could see

that my final thoughts on the Camino was

really about the people we connected with

in this amazing community

because we shared this

path with them.

We shared this journey with them.

We shared the difficulties and the challenges with them.

We shared the fun and the good points

and the excitement of the Camino with them.

And it's the same with your English learning.

Just doing it alone in your room or at home

is not as meaningful.

It's much more meaningful when you share

your journey with other people.

It's one of the great things about the

Effortless English community,

which you see on my Twitter page,

on my daily periscope videos,

in our VIP member program especially,

that there's this special connection between the people,

between our members,

that we're family

because we're all sharing this journey together,

the journey of, certainly of learning English,

or in my case, teaching it.

But also of just learning all the other things

that we learn in the Effortless English community

because we also learn strategies for success.

We also learn how to overcome difficult problems in life.

And we just create real strong friendships.

You know, after the Camino, I met my wife

and then we went to Barcelona.

And we had a member meeting there,

a VIP member meeting.

And we got to meet many of

our Effortless English members.

We met Mira and Julia and Jean Jacques,

and Tatiana,

and Gonzalo,

and Juan,

and just so many wonderful people,

Gloria, etcetera, etcetera.

And this is the super special thing,

the thing I love most about Effortless English

is the community.

And so it's important for you

to connect with other people

so that you enjoy this journey of English.

Because there are challenges, there are tough points,

and there's also excitement and great things about it.

And it's all more meaningful when you share

that journey with other people.

So please connect.

Get on my Twitter and connect with our other members

and make new friendships.

If you join our VIP program,

then don't just join and be silent.

Join and write on our VIP blog and

again, write on Twitter,

write on the Facebook page, whatever.

And if you can, come to a live Effortless English meeting

so you can meet face-to-face

because it really makes the experience

so much deeper.

And this was certainly the case for me

with the Camino de Santiago.

These wonderful people that we met

made the experience so much deeper,

so much more meaningful.

It was a life-changing experience for me,

one of the best experiences of my life.

And I loved it.

I'm gonna end the show here today with that.

Thank you so much.

Lots of love to you.

I'll see you next time.

Bye for now.

And go to

for more information about

Effortless English courses

or to join our community.

Okay. See you soon. Bye.

(mellow music)

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