Desafiars’s Road to Spanish Fluency

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Desafiars’s Road to Spanish Fluency

Postby desafiar » Sun Jun 05, 2022 6:10 pm

Hello, I'm creating a log for my input based approach to learning Spanish. I probably won't update too often, as my primary purpose for the log is not to record all that I do, but rather to highlight changes to my plan, note insights, or ask questions that I may have, and maybe get some feedback for which I'd be grateful.

Before I started studying Spanish, I spent some time evaluating the best approach. I understood the time investment would be massive, and given that, I wanted first to make sure I was fully committed and had a plan to succeed with a minimum of wasted effort and time.

I came to the conclusion that an input-based approach would be best for me. I'm introverted so early conversation is secondary to my desire to read and understand spoken language. I wanted to maintain a balanced ability in both reading and listening, so I tailored my approach to spend time with both. I've been studying almost a year and so far satisfied.

Resources I've used:
- Grammar ebooks by McGraw Hill and Schaum's
- Routledge Spanish Frequency Dictionary
- Anki on my phone and laptop
- Español a la Mexicana podcast with transcripts
- Short stories and audio by Spanish Input, a member of this forum
- Graded readers and regular books.
- LingQ
- Glosbe
- Linguno
- Dictionary's by Ultralingua and Collins on both my laptop and phone
- LanguageTool grammar checking
- DeepL
- Various spreadsheets
- macOS TTS

My first few months:
I used LingQ as my primary tool and have enjoyed it, but it's now time to let my subscription expire. I feel using it early was a good decision. In particular, the 60 Mini Stories were incredibly helpful for engraining basic sentence structures and introducing verb tenses in an efficient manner with plenty of repetition and all important audio. I downloaded the MP3's and played them many times. Some of the sentences ended up in Anki.

For grammar books or other material that doesn't have audio, I often use TTS when I want to hear it spoken. macOS TTS is quite good. It has its weaknesses but it is still very helpful to me.

All my grammar book answers were written as notes on my computer. Sentences I felt were noteworthy, I put into Anki for repletion. I have many cards that were created for the purpose of internalizing the usage of pronouns.

All my Anki cards use TTS. At the start I collected anything that I felt repletion would be helpful, grammar, idiomatic phrases, etc.

I've read and listened to podcasts with transcripts by Spanish Input. They were enjoyable for early material.

What I've been doing more recently:
I have been satisfied with my balance of listening and reading, but it quickly became apparent that word acquisition was my best way forward to get to an intermediate stage. I figured that I can collect nouns from just immersing myself, but verbs have been more difficult, yet more important.

My current approach to verb acquisition is to collect and study them in Anki and a spreadsheet. My current verb count in my spreadsheet is 759, of which 685 have been transferred to Anki. I suspect that I'll need to get to 1200 - 1500 known verbs to read well enough to read extensively. I have no data other than my own verb acquisition and pondering to come to that number, so really I pulled that number out of a hat.

The approach to collecting and studying verbs:
- Any sentence that I come across in books or other materials with a verb I haven't encountered previously is put into a holding document for later processing. At that time the verb infinitive is also added to my spreadsheet.
- Later I'll take a quantity of the sentences and translate them with DeepL, and make Anki cards.
- The verb infinitive is put in a separate deck with a single word verb infinitive and definition. These are the only single word cards I use, all others are sentences.
- If I have trouble with a particular verb, I'll add additional sentences with using various tenses. I may collect these additional sentences from reading material or from Glosbe, or create them myself.
- I practice conjugations in my spreadsheet. The ability to sort, classify, and highlight text with color has made has helped me to see and learn patterns of conjugation. I may practice conjugations by writing out the conjugations horizontally, vertically, or randomly. I'm a visual learner and I believe the spreadsheet and Anki repletion has been helpful.
- I'm not collecting any Anki cards at this point unless they are related to verb acquisition.

I've also joined the Super Challenge as a double for Spanish. I'll be going slow with intensive reading and study at first and suspect I'll pick up the pace later with extensive reading and also binge-watching shows.
Last edited by desafiar on Sat Jun 18, 2022 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Input Based Spanish Log

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Mon Jun 06, 2022 5:37 pm

Welcome to the Forum.
The two most important steps to learning a language, I believe, is to have a plan and to follow it.
Your plan seems robust and your sticking to it assiduous.
As for the best number of verbs, I can't really say.
Best of luck going forward.
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Many things which are false are transmitted from book to book, and gain credit in the world. -- attributed to Samuel Johnson

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Re: Input Based Spanish Log

Postby Kraut » Mon Jun 06, 2022 9:11 pm

"The approach to collecting and studying verbs:"

This is an extremely useful site for verb studies:

https://www.123teachme.com/spanish_verb ... on/asignar
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Re: Input Based Spanish Log

Postby desafiar » Tue Jun 07, 2022 6:13 pm

Thank you for the welcome.

I tried http://www.123teachme.com with a few mid-frequency verbs that are currently in my queue of verbs that I've come across but have yet to make Anki cards for (brotar, enroscar, desatar, parlotear). While Glosbe has more sentence examples, another source is always welcome. Most of my queued verbs will remain queued until I encounter them again while reading. I'm favoring verbs most recently encountered, typically adding them a day or two after adding them to my spreadsheet.

I prefer using the Ultralingua dictionary app for definitions and conjugations over sites online. The interface is more efficient for the way I work. The Ultralingua app has both proprietary Ultralingua and Collins Spanish-English dictionaries installed. Ultralingua being more concise, and Collins provides more detail. Swapping between them is a drop-down menu away. I also prefer the way conjugations are displayed by tense, so that switching verbs or tenses is fast which helps me while verifying conjugations that I put in my spreadsheet. For verb drills I use Linguno, a site that I came across from reading a thread on this forum.

Initially what prompted me to focus so heavily on verbs was having my ass kicked the first time I attempted to read novel. The humbling experience immediately made me aware that, 1) I wasn't ready to read native material unless I wanted to proceed at a painfully slow pace, and 2) there sure are a lot of verbs.

It was humbling enough that I went back to graded readers after fewer than a dozen pages and started focusing on verbs. Even with graded material and other sources, I found myself continuously needing to lookup certain verbs, retaining some well, and others being much more stubborn. I feel what I've been doing has helped immensely. I suspect I'll continue this focus until I get to the point where I'm only discovering new verb fairly infrequently, perhaps once per couple of pages of a novel, or when switching genres of reading. But mostly I'll just need to continue re-evaluating my approach as I go.
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Re: Input Based Spanish Log

Postby Kraut » Wed Jun 08, 2022 12:35 pm

Here's another tool, the example sentences are collected from Tatoeba:

https://www.scholingua.com/de/es/konjug ... s%C3%A4tze
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Re: Desafiars’s Road to Spanish Fluency

Postby desafiar » Sat Jun 18, 2022 4:56 pm

My log needed a new name. Input Based Spanish Log doesn't accurately describe my journey. So I've changed it to Desafiars’s Road to Spanish Fluency, which seems more appropriate.

While I am input focused for now and enjoying it, my longer term goal is fluency. By fluency I mean being able to have conversations with a range of native speakers, read freely in areas of the language that I enjoy, and being able to write at a relatively nuanced level.

I've been thinking about ways to activate the language and may keep an eye out for local opportunities for Spanish conversation. Potentially I may go to an immersion school in Mexico for a few months, not this coming winter, but perhaps the next. I've been thinking of that more lately and may plan around making it happen. But that's jumping ahead from where I'm at now.

Since last posting, I've made a couple minor changes to my routine. I've extracted sentence cards from Anki into a spreadsheet for translation from Spanish to English. For the most part I'm doing well, but often need to use the dictionary. Sometimes my translated sentences are grammatically correct according to LanguageTool, but may differ from the source sentence. Sentences that are difficult get moved aside for translation again at a later date.

I've also started to focus more on pronouns within my Anki cards as I'm reviewing them. So for instance, making sure that I recognize the direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns, reflexive pronouns, verb agreement, etc. If I come across a card that the grammar aspects are not apparent, I may copy the sentence to a list for further review, or even break away from Anki and review the grammar at that time.

I'm working though Practice Makes Perfect, Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions. I was making my way through it a few months ago, but had put it down for a time.

I'm trying to manage my Anki cards so that I don't review more than ~125 per day. In order to do this, I've been cutting down on how many new cards I create per day. The best way I've found to cut down is reading appropriate level books. Doing that, I'm reading more extensively, and finding fewer new verbs, and thus creating fewer sentence cards. So for awhile that means graded readers at B1/B2 level. After a half-dozen or so more of them, I'll go back to native novels.

My verb spreadsheet is up at 811 verbs overall that I've encountered from reading and have added to it. There are 710 that have been added to Anki as infinitive cards. Overall I have 2,237 cards in Anki. My maximum interval is 180 days.
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Re: Desafiars’s Road to Spanish Fluency

Postby desafiar » Tue Jun 28, 2022 12:48 am

Thoughts on input.
I've been flirting with the idea of stepping up my output game this past week. Visions of Pimsleur and language partners dancing through my head. Then I came to my senses.

I'm always trying to find the most efficient means to get to a reasonably decent level of basic fluency. And so the thought of getting a start with output will continue to be something I'll probably be considering continuously until I do it. I recall reading either on this forum, or perhaps listening to someone in a podcast mention the hurdle of delayed output. To me it seems there’s a reasonably ideal time for each of us heavy-input language learners to begin, and it's likely different for each of us.

Something was telling me that it's not time. I've been making good progress in my reading and listening abilities and I know myself. If I were to start output, I'd want to go all-hands-on-deck, and push hard at it. The end result would be that my continued progress in learning to understand the language well would suffer.

As it stands, my conclusion of the best time to start output in a serious way will be once I'm able to watch and understand native soap operas well. That seems to be a good measure to me now. Perhaps I'll throw that measure out the window later, but for now, I'm thinking that would be a good time. And that's to say that I believe I'll be able to do that prior to fall of next year. I have no idea if that is either an ambitious goal, or easy to obtain. Time will tell. I'm fluid, always re-evaluating.

Graded audio books.
I found a good series of graded readers by the author Paco Ardit. Each have audio and the narration done by unique individuals for each story. They are read with various styles, speed, and with accents from South America and Spain. I'd been searching and happy to find them. Sure they are graded readers, but the stories are entertaining enough. I'm going to finish all of the B1, B2, C1, and C2 stories, interlaced with native material.

I’ve found that, by far the easiest accents for me to understand from those that I’ve been exposed to, are first Mexican and Ecuadorian, followed by Argentinian. Distinción and Ceceo from regions of Spain have been a challenge.
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Re: Desafiars’s Road to Spanish Fluency

Postby SpanishInput » Tue Jun 28, 2022 10:29 pm

desafiar wrote:Thoughts on input.
I've been flirting with the idea of stepping up my output game this past week. Visions of Pimsleur and language partners dancing through my head. Then I came to my senses.

Hi, and welcome! I'd say don't stress too much on the when to start output question. But when you feel you're ready, my two cents are:

1) I've seen people get very, very good results from Pimsleur.
2) Language Transfer, despite its imperfections, is a nice formula-based course to get you "outputting" Spanish. The creator made a great job of emphasizing working with formulas to re-construct the language instead of memorizing tons of individual words.
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Re: Desafiars’s Road to Spanish Fluency

Postby desafiar » Tue Jul 05, 2022 4:15 am

For some time I've been keeping a document with sentences that I came across containing examples of sentences with grammar structures not clear to me. Several had similar reflexive structures where an indirect object pronoun is placed between the reflexive se and conjugated verb, such as the examples below.

    Sí, y que se nos ha estropeado la calefacción.

    En toda su vida lo único que cocinó fueron dos tortas. Las dos se le quemaron.

    En el piso de la entrada estaba el anillo de Ana María, que se le cayó cuando entró.

None of my grammar books contained such structures, so I just keep them figuring one day I'd come across the rule behind their usage. That day was today. I found an excellent article on kwiziq.com explaining the usage.

Small victories are gratifying. Kwiziq seems to be a good site with well explained grammar articles. I may take a closer look and keep the site in mind, possibly signing up later to take advantage of the AI mapped custom learning.

The last example sentence posted above is one that I keep since reading a story some months ago by Spanish Input called La esfinge sin secreto. I've read and listened to all his stories and enjoyed them. The audio is very well done. At the time I was having a hard time finding level appropriate yet entertaining material, and finding them was definitely welcome. I'd highly recommend anyone looking for A level material to check his blog at spanishinput.com. Thanks Spanish Input for the stories and stopping by my language log.
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Re: Desafiars’s Road to Spanish Fluency

Postby Kraut » Tue Jul 05, 2022 11:05 am

desafiar wrote:
    Sí, y que se nos ha estropeado la calefacción.

    En toda su vida lo único que cocinó fueron dos tortas. Las dos se le quemaron.

    En el piso de la entrada estaba el anillo de Ana María, que se le cayó cuando entró.

None of my grammar books contained such structures, so I just keep them figuring one day I'd come across the rule behind their usage. That day was today. I found an excellent article on kwiziq.com explaining the usage.


Hispanoteca is also a good source for explanations of more complicated advanced structures:

http://hispanoteca.eu/Gram%C3%A1ticas/G ... es%203.htm

Pronombre personal átono en construcciones medias
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