Learning Spanish: Two Years Later, My Experience

It has been two years since I started learning Spanish. I can’t say I’m much further than I was. I’ve been using books, Memrise and YouTube videos (there are so many). Apparently I am one of the people who will keep struggling unless they do something drastic.

Learning Spanish

The Something Drastic

My something drastic is not to throw myself in a situation where I will always look back and shiver. I need positive events to grow. For me, having a bad experience don’t make me more stubborn and rise up. Bad experiences often make me even more shy and give me every reason to give up. Not the best personality trait, I know.

Every website I visit to find out about learning Spanish always say you have to speak the language. That’s great, but how do you speak a language you don’t know?

Conversations

Because so many websites says that speaking the language will fast track your learning, I (of course) felt I had to jump face first into it. I’ve never been someone to talk to random strangers. The reason for that is mostly because I can’t make conversation. I will ask a few questions and then run dry rather quickly. Imagine this in a language where I can hardly greet someone without my tongue falling over itself.

Therefore, I naturally went to the next best thing. I tried using a language exchange website where you chat with natives and practice your skills while they test their skills on you. I was not ready for that and ended up completely downtrodden. I thought I knew enough to write basic information – ha!

I ran straight back to my hole and reassessed the situation. I need a bigger vocabulary. Don’t get me wrong, using a language exchange website or app is definitely a good idea. I will return to this method… when I’m better prepared.

Tutor

Apart from speaking to strangers, friends or strangers on a language exchange website, you can also pay someone to speak with you. This is a big part of the something drastic. I finally got myself a tutor and I am starting at level 0, again. I couldn’t find a class or tutor that is available at the times I am, close enough or the right gender for me to be at my most comfortable. There are plenty of websites to find online tutors. I am using Preply.

Hopefully in the distant future I will be able to put sentences together rather than memorise those given to me on Memrise.

Vocabulary

Your tutor, teacher and online courses are all limited in some way or the other. My tutor can teach me rules, explain details, tell me about slang and answer questions, but she can’t teach me the entire language. Memrise fills in the gaps by teaching me vocabulary. Without the vocabulary, I can know all the rules, but I won’t be able to string together a sentence.

My goal is to know 3 000 words. 3 000 words is considered as conversationally fluent according to FluentU. But I know 800 words now and can hardly use them, which means it’s all just numbers unless you pair the vocabulary with speech.

Listening Skill

Lastly, I’ve hit a low when I heard my husband try to converse with our landlord a few days ago. I thought it would be good practice to go say hello. That was all I said. Hola. The rest of the time I tried to listen to what he said and I got, you guessed it, nothing. I didn’t understand anything. Yet Brendan, who gave up on Spanish almost the minute we arrived in Spain, could pick up on a few things here and there. Sometimes I think it’s because I try to hard and get all panicky. If that’s the case, I’ve got no hope, since being socially awkward has always been a part of me.

However, since I can’t hide out from the Spanish my entire life, I have to learn to understand them. Apart from needing to know the words they’re using and understanding pronunciation, you should also do listening practices. I try to listen to Spanish adverts, neighbours (sorry, I know it’s rude to listen in), Extr@ Espanol (YouTube) and SpanishPod101 (YouTube).

I’ve also came across this helpful list of songs to listen to and learn from. This I will also incorporate in my studies.

Time Off for Study

That being said, with all of this studying I have not been able to crochet. It feels as if my life will only return to normal once I have reached a level in Spanish where I can understand people and reply in a basic fashion. I hope you are all still creating and having fun. I will keep you updated if I finally get to make anything or if I suddenly start getting better at Spanish. Until then, be creative!

Oh, and Brendan bought me the first Harry Potter book in Spanish. I’m holding onto it and hoping for a day I can read and understand it ^^

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