The best plans go amiss
This year I had big plans to study Spanish in Latin America, travelling through the Caribbean, Central America, and all the way down to Argentina. That would end up being ~10 months of learning Spanish (March - Dec).
After just one week of classes in the Dominican Republic, I had to return home unexpectedly due to coronavirus. I’d given up my house, so it took some time to get settled and to come up with a plan to continue learning. Studying on my own is much less intuitive than being immersed in the language & culture while travelling, so I’m hoping that by posting my progress here, it will help keep me accountable. Maybe you’ll read this and have suggestions for ways I can improve or be more efficient. If this motivates other language learners, all the better.
Apart from my week of classes in DR, I’ve never formally studied Spanish but I learned Italian to C1 about 10 years ago. I’m rusty but that should help.
I’d like to pass a mock written B2 proficiency exam by July 1 (80 days from now).
Ultimately, I’d like to feel confident speaking with a good degree of fluency by December. If possible, I’ll travel to Argentina then as a reward. We’ll see.
Since returning home, I’ve completed Paul Noble’s introductory course. I’m working on his “next steps” course now. I’ve been doing 1 session of 30-45 minutes per day but I think I should do 2 sessions to accelerate my progress.
I’ve yet to start chatting with natives online. I don’t like chatting online generally, so I have some resistance, but I know I need to start.
I listen to podcasts everyday, usually while doing something active. “Español con Juan” is my favourite so far. At first I struggled to understand him but now, nearly a month later, I comprehend 80%+. I’m branching out into other podcasts from Latin American speakers. I don’t yet understand podcasts por nativos, para nativos.
I’ve begun working through the beginner lessons here but find the unintuitive interface challenging. Yet, it’s such an efficient approach to reading, so I’ll push ahead. I need to set a specific goal for LingQ.
Spanish Short Stories (via audible)
I’m working through this collection of beginner-level stories, listening & reading at the same time, listening to the english version, then doing the spanish version again for a second time. I’m aiming to do one story per day.
As a reward, I listen to a few songs while reading lyrics. I’m not sure how well that translates into learning but it’s enjoyable.
I think LingQ might be the best approach to writing and getting corrections. I’m aiming to write a paragraph every few days.
I like this context-based approach to learning vocab. My goal is to do 1000 phrases by the end of April then continue to add another 1000/month (if that’s realistic).
I’ve finished the first 2 levels. I’m now working on:
- body part names
- 100 most common verbs
- 100 most common adjectives
- 350 idiomatic expressions
After these go into “maintenance mode” mode, I’ll start working on the top 5000 words by frequency. I probably already know a few hundred.
My goal is to finish one chapter of this textbook every 2 days. I’m not sure how well textbook learning translates into speaking but I find it helps with reading comprehension and generally understanding the logic of the language.
Speaking is my weak point. Top priority is online chat/tutor. Once I’ve finished Paul Noble, I’ll add Glossika, Rose Lee Hayden, and/or Pimsleur. I’m always looking for more resources but also trying to spend my time focused on learning spanish, rather than looking for more resources.