Well it’s that time in my journey again folks where I report back to you over how far I’ve come learning Spanish, and what I plan to do to advance, over the next fourteen days. I can hardly believe it’s already been that long since the last post! I’m happy to say I’ve already noticed some healthy progress.
In this, my second learning goals post (see the first here), I’ve decided to include a nifty little progress video recorded entirely in Spanish. In it I share some of my findings about this little city and try my best to ignore rampaging dogs, cars and people. Sorry for the mistakes too (here’s hoping those will gradually disappear!).
The intention of these posts is to give you an honest account of what I’ve been doing here in Cáceres, Spain, to learn the language and, in part, to help show that it is ACHIEVABLE FOR ANYONE. I’m not special nor have I got a head for languages, only a very big head (physically so I’m told). And hamster-like cheeks to boot. Not that any of that is really applicable.
Onward to the progress report.
Two weeks ago I set myself the following goals. Underneath I comment on their effectiveness and list whether I achieved them or not.
1. Complete One Chapter in Spanish Grammar Book
Brushing up on the grammar and studying the chapter on personal pronouns was something I did largely in one sitting. Worth doing it to give some guidance to my use of the language – especially in general conversation. Achieved? Done
2. Learn 20 New Words Per Day
Probably the most controversial of all goals, some of the vocabulary I was learning was really abstract and not immediately useful for everyday use (botadura anyone?) Still more can’t be too harmful right? Achieved? Done
3. Converse in Spanish with 2 Strangers Each Day
By far the most effective, most rewarding and most fun of all tasks, I actually put the language into everyday use, learning a whole host of things about the city, it’s people and it’s culture too boot. Definitely one to continue. Achieved? Done
4. Read 2 Pages of Spanish Novel – La Sombra Del Viente – Each Day
Difficult going with this one. I started well but went out with a wimper as the weeks went on. Found that the book was simply costing me a lot of time in having to look up and research a lot of new vocabulary to contextualize the plot. Not at that level yet. Achieved? Fail
5. Watch 1 Spanish TV Programme Each Day
Not too challenging or difficult this one and usually twinned with breakfast. The only downside? Some bloody crap (and weird) TV. Learned some useful phrases though! Achieved? Done
6. Watch 1 Spanish Film
Difficult to do due to a faulty DVD drive on my computer, the attention span of a rat and no home Internet connection. Watched lots of parts of horribly dubbed American films however. Harrison Ford ain’t sounding so great over here. Achieved? Fail
7. Listen to Notes in Spanish Intermediate Podcast and Write 300 Words Each Day
Pretty fruitful for the listening this one but have absolutely no idea if what I’m writing is anywhere near grammatically correct. Can only be worth it if I get my writing checked by a native speaker. Achieved? Done
8. Read BBC El Mundo Aloud for 15 Minutes Each Day
Tough due to no home internet connection and not wanting to sound like a nutter in the public library. Did buy a local paper and give reading it aloud a try a few times. As with reading BBC El Mundo off my phone. Just wasn’t consistent. Achieved? Fail
All in all not too bad progress with all but one of the tasks (the movie) attempted and 5 out of 8 completed to a satisfactory level.
Time to check out what I’ll be doing for the next two weeks. Will I be changing things up a bit?
I’m going to set two fewer goals this week in an attempt to increase my focus on those I deem more important. So, in no particular order:
1. Converse in Spanish with 3 Strangers Each Day
That means new people (helping with networking) and a conversation of at least 5 minutes in length. Each day I’ll prepare five new phrases or vocabulary items to use in the day’s conversations.
2. Complete One Chapter in Spanish Grammar Book
Grammar is an on-going beast. This week I’ll be studying possessive and demonstrative adjectives and pronouns. What on Earth are they? Beats me. It cost me long enough having to just write that.
3. Learn 20 New Words Per Day
With Anki at my side there’s no stopping me! This session, however, I will try to focus on more useful vocabulary groups – body parts, jobs, sexually transmitted diseases for example. Ok maybe not the last one so much.
4. Watch 1 Spanish TV Programme Each Day
As much as I find watching Cheers dubbed into English bizarre I think it’s a worthy goal to be able to listen and understand to most of what is said. Same goes for other shows too.
5. Listen to Notes in Spanish Intermediate Podcast and Write 300 Words Each Day
Continuing on with this goal but will try to add my journals to the language learning site lenguajero.com where I can get my writings corrected by natives so as to see what idiotic horrors I commit.
6. Complete 3 Tracks of Michel Thomas’ Spanish: Advanced Course Each Day
Started listening to parts of this course to help with my conversation with strangers goal last week and found it to be massively useful. Hopefully at this rate I can get half way through the course in two weeks.
So that’s it! I’ve decided to drop the novel, reading news aloud and movie goals for this session but will undoubtedly give them a shot here and there (just not daily) during the course of the fortnight. I’ll also be keeping my eyes and ears open to any other new learning techniques.
I also want to point out that in the first week I had some private lessons too – which you’ll be finding out about at a later date.
Check in with me in another two weeks to see how I’m doing. Hopefully I’ll have another video conversation up with a native too!
In the meantime, I want to know: what language learning goals have you set for yourself this month?