Sunday, June 16, 2019

Week 24: Learn Spanish

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with foreign languages.  At age 17, after a lengthy application process to become a Rotary Club Exchange Student in which I'd specified that I wanted to go to Italy, France, or Spain, I was told I had been accepted into the program! Unfortunately, the country I was told I would go to was Japan... Japanese was not really a language on my list, but, hey, I'd do my best.

That was over 40 years ago, and I've forgotten most of my Japanese. I, also, never lost my desire to learn Italian, French, and Spanish. This year, it was time to pick one of those languages and get serious about learning it!

That's why Goal #24 on my list of 60 is:

Get better at a foreign language (Spanish, French, and/or Italian) and practice with a friend

With the recognition that many of those snowbird spots I'd like to visit in the winter are Spanish-speaking countries, I figured Spanish would be the most practical language to master.

Unlike my "experiment with a new instrument" goal, in which I tried the guitar for about 5 minutes, I have been SERIOUS about this goal to learn Spanish.  I decided my "acceptance criteria" for this goal would be to have at least 100 days in a row of studying and needed to include practicing speaking with a native.

I'm happy to report that I'm on a 104 day Streak in Duolingo and in the Sapphire League! Take a look at all these lingots I've earned!

Besides Duolingo, I'm also using the Pimsleur apps to practice with listening and speaking. The Pimsleur app is great because it's designed to be used while walking or driving.  Pimsleur has 5 Levels, each with 30 lessons, and I just finished the 3rd Lesson of Level 3.

I've also been using other apps and books to learn the grammar.
I discovered there are a bunch of apps that will let you pair up with a native to practice so I signed up for Conversation Exchange and have gotten some partners to practice with.

The biggest investment I made was signing up to go to a Costa Rica Immersion program in January called Conversa! Conversa provides study materials and workshops and earlier this week I participated in my first workshop in which I spoke with natives! I was awful, but I did it!

I've had several opportunities to speak with native Spanish-speaking people during this 104 day stint. I've attended Meetups for those who want to learn Spanish and classes and spoken with friends who know Spanish. It's very discouraging that every time I try to speak to someone, I can't seem to get the simplest sentences right! And when I listen to native Spanish speakers? Forget it! They speak way too fast for me to be able to understand.

But I AM improving and I'm excited and looking forward to using my skills in Costa Rica next winter!

What worked well

  • Gamification aspects of Duolingo motivate me to practice every day
  • Love practicing with Pimsleur courses while I'm walking or driving
  • So many apps available online for free, including those that let you practice with native speakers!
  • Lots of opportunities to practice with classes, Meetups, native speakers, and friends
  • I see improvements by consistently studying and the repetition of phrases and vocabulary
  • Excited about going to Costa Rica next winter and participating in Conversa
What could be better
  • It's discouraging that even after so much study, it is still so difficult to understand or converse 
  • Becoming fluent may not be possible unless I live in a Spanish-speaking country

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I'm happy to report that I'm on a 104 day Streak in Duolingo and in the Sapphire League! Take a look at all these lingots I've earned!"

That might as well be Spanish, since I was absolutely no idea what you're talking about!