B2 Spanish or bust

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bryan
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B2 Spanish or bust

Postby bryan » Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:26 pm

I'm not going to bring my old log over, instead I will just recap where I am and where I want to be.

- I've been studying for Spanish 3+ years.

- My goal is to pass the DELE B2 in the near future. Ideally, the first part of 2016.

- I'm currently reading (lots!) and speaking every chance I get. I'm also going through Pimsleur again for extra speaking practice during my commute.

- Once a quarter(ish) I take a placement test to test whether or not I'm making progress. I'm just short of B2 (upper intermediate) on the Oxford University Language Placement test. Speaking and listening, I'm B1 on good days, a solid A2 on not so good days.

I will post more details about what I'm doing in follow up posts.
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Jar-Ptitsa
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I can speak: Dutch, German, English, Spanish and understand Italian, Portuguese, Wallonian, Afrikaans, but not always correctly.
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby Jar-Ptitsa » Mon Jul 20, 2015 11:26 am

¡Buena suerte con tu español! Es un idioma muy bonito. Pues, eso lo creo yo
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-w- I am Jar-ptitsa and my Hawaiian name is ʻā ʻaia. Please correct my mistakes in all the languages. Thank you very much.
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bryan
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby bryan » Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:37 am

During the last couple of days, I finished reading El Hacker by Paco Ardit. I'm really enjoying his books. In this one, I picked up a lot of computer terminology that I hadn't seen before. Being a software engineer, this was immensely enjoyable. Over all the book was a very light, easy and an enjoyable read.

That ends all of the A2 books that he has written. Next up is Comdia de locos. This is the first B1 book in the series. I've read the first couple of chapters, so far nothing challenging but it seems like a good read.

Even though these books aren't really challenging, they do keep my attention and I'm able to read with around 98% comprehension rate. I'm hoping the B1 book that I just started will be similar.
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bryan
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby bryan » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:08 pm

Lately, I've been trying to frequent places that I know native Spanish speakers are. For instance, today I went to a Mexican supermercado to buy a couple of things. It went something like this as I walked in the door and made eye contact with the cashier:

Me: Hola
Her: Hello

While standing in the aisle, bagging up some platanos a group was walking towards me so I smiled at them and said hola. They smiled back and said hello, excuse us as they passed by me to the exit.

After getting what I needed, I walked up to the checkout for a final try:

Me: Hola, buenas.
Her: Hello. Your total is two dollars.

And after that I just gave up trying to strike up a conversation. At least I will have patacones to eat tonight :)

I've decided that I must be extra gringo. Every Latino I try to speak with insists on speaking English to me. Maybe I can find a shirt that says, ""Habla espanol conmigo, por fis" :)

EDIT: Spelling mistakes.
Last edited by bryan on Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Stelle
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby Stelle » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:26 pm

Good for you for trying!

On the rare occasion that I'm brave enough to talk to a stranger, I tell them straight-up that I'm learning and would they mind if I practiced a bit? I've had really positive and warm responses from most people - especially the librarian, who now shouts a greeting and waves me over from across the library every time I walk in. Ha! I pick my times carefully, though. If people are busy, then I figure that the last thing they want to do is listen to me fumble through basic interactions.
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Cavesa
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby Cavesa » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:36 pm

It really depends on the circumstances and location. I had no trouble with this in Spain and my Spanish is probably worse than yours (and was even much worse at that time). However, my blonde tall friend was being talked to in bad English all the time. But Mexicans in the US are probably having different expectations from people greeting them in Spanish.

Keep trying, you have my admiration for going on. Don't let it discourage you. That t-shirt might not be that bad idea. Another thing, discussed on the old forum especially in the context of the French natives reluctant to speak French, were books. Some people, like me, have a book with them all the time. And when you have a Spanish book in hand (with a bookmark somewhere in the middle), people are more likely to expect you to speak the language.

Is your placement test easily googlable or would you have a link please?
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bryan
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby bryan » Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:17 pm

@Cavesa, yes, I do. There are two actually.

This is the Oxford one: http://www.lang.ox.ac.uk/courses/tst_index.html

I like that one because it's less time consuming. Maybe 15-20 minutes tops but seems to test most of the grammar to get a good feel for your level.

Cervantes also has one that is good but requires more time. Maybe 45+ minutes if I remember right. I only do that one every so often when I feel like I've made larger improvements. That one is here: http://ave.cervantes.es/prueba_nivel/re ... gen=webAVE

@Stelle Talking to people has definitely gotten easier for me. I used to not want to speak to anyone and was worried I'd completely draw a blank trying to understand what was said to me or forget how to conjugate a verb and sound like a dumb gringo ;) But several weeks ago I got comfortable talking to Clara (a native speaker) and last weekend I meet her mother, who only speaks Spanish.

I definitely made some mistakes talking to her mother (I was a bit nervous) but I was able to do it. She could understand me and I could understand most of what she said. I noticed about halfway through my chat with her that she started speaking a lot faster than when we started. I took that as a compliment :) Clara told me that her mother was telling the rest of the family that I was completely fluent in Spanish haha They will be in for a big surprise when they start talking to me at 100 mph in Spanish and all they get from me is a confused look on my face :)
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arthaey
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby arthaey » Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:32 pm

I hear ya on getting English back when you try to signal that you'd like to use Spanish.

Two suggestions that have worked for me:

  1. Greet people with a slightly longer phrase. "Hola" is something that almost everyone knows. "Buenas tardes, ¿qué tal?" is still very quick to say, but gives more "data" for the person listening.
  2. Speaking of giving more "data"... Work on your pronunciation, if it needs working-on! Even if you're actually fluent, first impressions are heavily pronunciation-based.
Last time I went to a Latino supermarket in the US, I actually did get to have 3 different Spanish-only interactions with employees. I was grinning for quite a while afterward... ;)
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bryan
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby bryan » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:42 pm

@arthaey Thanks for the suggestions, starting off with something longer is a really good idea. The next time I venture out, I'm going to give that a try.

Eventually someone will answer me in Spanish, I'm sure. I usually try to speak in controlled situations that I know I can handle. Buying groceries, asking directions, ordering food etc. I bet if I widen that a little I'd do better too.
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bryan
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Re: B2 Spanish or bust

Postby bryan » Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:37 pm

The focus on speaking has been going really well. Last night, I had a call with Clara. We spoke for around 40 minutes. At the end of the call I realized that we had spoke in Spanish the entire time. I'm really happy with the progress I have made with speaking in the last several weeks.

One area that I've noticed a change in is when I don't know a word. I used to switch to English and ask what the word in Spanish is. Or, simply "como se dice <english word> en espanol?". I've noticed now that I'm starting to try to explain the word I want in Spanish instead. So, "no sé la palabra pero, la cosa que..., como se dice eso en espanol?".

Random stuff
Over the weekend I started writing a neat little tool. I use a Kindle Paperwhite to read Spanish books. It has a nice feature called "Vocab builder" that stores every word you look up and adds it to a vocab list with the sentence it was used in. Then, you can use the built in flashcard program to review these words in context. It isn't nearly as full featured as Anki but it's ok. Which got me thinking, would it be possible to export those words and example sentences into Anki? Ideally, automatically with little manual work and even better if they were cloze cards.

Turns out it is. The data is stored in a sqlite database, which is just a file on the Kindle. I wrote a simple tool in php (I dislike php, I really do) that parses this file and automatically creates cloze cards, from the book of your choosing, for import into Anki. So far, this is working well with the Spanish books I've read. I'm hoping that I can polish the tool and have it on my website soon for use by anyone that wants to use it.
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