Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

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Bex
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Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby Bex » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:40 am

About me
As most of you know by now...I am one of those awful people who live in Spain for years on end but still can't speak Spanish. Immersion is not a magic wand.

My embarrassing story...
Year 1 2015: Lazing around in the sun
Year 2 2016: Frustration
I tried teaching myself at home, started many courses and finished none. I got so frustrated with my lack of speaking I tried Spanish classes which were awful.
Year 3 2017:
My log - https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=3949
I finished Assimil, Glossika 1, Michel Thomas and Duolingo. Then I got lost again, I didn't know what to do after courses.
Year 4 2018:
My log - https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7387
I started to use native material, it was too difficult. So I eventually switched to learners material, I am now finally heading towards being able to read/listen to native material.

So that’s it really… I have learnt a lot about myself and learning a language since I started my first log in September 2016 but I still have no idea what I'm doing, which is blatantly obvious because it's taken me 4 years to get to this pathetic level of Spanish.

At the moment I have no plans other than to complete the Super Challenge and try not to read back over my logs too much because it's depressing/embarrassing.
7 x
SC 2018/19: Spanish
100 books: 80 / 100
100 films. : 85 / 100

FSI Basic Spanish:
Vol 1 - 01-15: 15 / 15 :D
Vol 2 - 16-30: 4 / 15

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Bex
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Languages: English (N), Spanish (A2)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7387
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby Bex » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:41 am

Super Challenge Progress:
Total: 80 books & 85 films


May 2018: 5.4 books / 2.4 films.
June 2018: 1.1 books / 1.6 films.
July 2018: 1.1 books / 1.6 films.
Aug 2018: 1.1 books / 1.6 films.
Sept 2018: 2.6 books / 2.5 films.
Oct 2018: 8.1 books / 11.6 films
Nov 2018: 10.8 books / 7.5 films
Dec 2018: 7.4 books / 1.1 films
Jan 2019: 3.6 books / 8.6 films
Feb 2019: 5.3 books / 11.7 films
March 2019: 4.4 books / 13.5 films
April 2019: 4.0 books / 5.6 films
May 2019: 4.9 books / 5.2 films
June 2019: 5.6 books / 3.5 films
July 2019: 6.0 books / 1.8 films
Aug 2019: 1.7 books / 2.0 films
Sept 2019: 7.1 books / 3.7 films

2019 Books completed
The Linguist - Steve Kauffman.
The little prince (adaptado)
Harry Potter 3
Super Granny (B1)
Diario de Greg 1
Harry Potter 4

2019 Films/Series completed
Unlimited Spanish podcasts 120+
Netflix - El Chapo - 3 Series.


Textbooks/Courses completed
May 2019 - FSI Basic Spanish Vol 1 (lessons 4-15)
May 2019 - PMP Basic Spanish textbook
Last edited by Bex on Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:56 pm, edited 22 times in total.
2 x
SC 2018/19: Spanish
100 books: 80 / 100
100 films. : 85 / 100

FSI Basic Spanish:
Vol 1 - 01-15: 15 / 15 :D
Vol 2 - 16-30: 4 / 15

CompImp
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby CompImp » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:04 am

Bex wrote:Immersion is not a magic wand.

Were you doing real 'immersion' or are you classing simply being in-country as 'immersion' ?

As most of you know by now...I am one of those awful people who live in Spain for years on end but still can't speak Spanish.

Hey, at least you're trying. Some expats have been there entire lifetimes and pride themselves on being ignorant. You're making the effort, which is always a good thing.
Last edited by CompImp on Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bex
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby Bex » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:18 am

CompImp wrote:
Bex wrote:Immersion is not a magic wand.

Were you doing real 'immersion' or are you classing simply being in-country as 'immersion' ?


"In country immersion" I suppose. Everything I do or see is pretty much in Spanish, I shop, eat out, doctors, kids teachers, etc all in Spanish. I watch Spanish TV in the evenings... although frustratingly I still don't understand much but I get the gist of it. I get the gist of most things and rarely don't understand at all these days - context helps a lot.
0 x
SC 2018/19: Spanish
100 books: 80 / 100
100 films. : 85 / 100

FSI Basic Spanish:
Vol 1 - 01-15: 15 / 15 :D
Vol 2 - 16-30: 4 / 15

DaveAgain
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Languages: English (native), French (intermediate), German (beginner).
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby DaveAgain » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:27 am

Bex wrote:Year 4 2018:
My log - https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7387
I started to use native material, it was too difficult. So I eventually switched to learners material, I am now finally heading towards being able to read/listen to native material.

So that’s it really… I have learnt a lot about myself and learning a language since I started my first log in September 2016 but I still have no idea what I'm doing, which is blatantly obvious because it's taken me 4 years to get to this pathetic level of Spanish.

At the moment I have no plans other than to complete the Super Challenge and try not to read back over my logs too much because it's depressing/embarrassing.
Don't be so hard on yourself Bex. You've kept yourself focused on the end-goal, and improved along the way.

I read a Churchill biography over Christmas, "never give up" is a reliable method :-)
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CompImp
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby CompImp » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:30 am

DaveAgain wrote:
Bex wrote:Year 4 2018:
My log - https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7387
I started to use native material, it was too difficult. So I eventually switched to learners material, I am now finally heading towards being able to read/listen to native material.

So that’s it really… I have learnt a lot about myself and learning a language since I started my first log in September 2016 but I still have no idea what I'm doing, which is blatantly obvious because it's taken me 4 years to get to this pathetic level of Spanish.

At the moment I have no plans other than to complete the Super Challenge and try not to read back over my logs too much because it's depressing/embarrassing.
Don't be so hard on yourself Bex. You've kept yourself focused on the end-goal, and improved along the way.

I read a Churchill biography over Christmas, "never give up" is a reliable method :-)

Did the book contain the part where he pretended his dead artist mate's paintings were his to make some money ? :lol:

Anyway Dave is right - language is a long road. You're already doing more than most expats. Keep at it and stuff will start to make sense.
1 x

Cavesa
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby Cavesa » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:31 am

I agree, don't be so harsh on yourself!

You are moving in the right direction. Sure, the path is not that direct or easy, but you are still moving. That is much more than vast majority of language learners on the planet can be proud of! Incuding (or perhaps especially) expats.

P.S. I wrote it at the same time as CompInp, I didn't copy! :-D
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CompImp
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby CompImp » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:35 am

Bex wrote:
CompImp wrote:
Bex wrote:Immersion is not a magic wand.

Were you doing real 'immersion' or are you classing simply being in-country as 'immersion' ?


"In country immersion" I suppose. Everything I do or see is pretty much in Spanish, I shop, eat out, doctors, kids teachers, etc all in Spanish. I watch Spanish TV in the evenings... although frustratingly I still don't understand much but I get the gist of it. I get the gist of most things and rarely don't understand at all these days - context helps a lot.

It will help to try and get input that's comprehensible. Finding the material is the hard part.

Remember though that total material doesn't have to be at a comprehensible level for it to be worth interacting with.

98%+ comprehensibility for acquisition can be on a per phrase, sentence, paragraph basis. If you understand 98% of a paragraph you can glean the rest [of the paragraph] from context even if the entire piece you're reading is only 50% comprehensible.
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Cavesa
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby Cavesa » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:55 am

Perhaps.

But reading the description of the situation, I think you could profit from an intermediate coursebook or other such tools for learners. Such stuff could be the missing piece of puzzle. You know, for covering gaps, finding things you don't know you don't know, for the background work you can show off publicly.

It is obvious from your last log, that you've been doing a lot of great stuff in Spanish, practicing a lot. But I think you may have gotten caught in the usual trap. Living in the country and language doesn't automatically lead to improvement beyond certain level. And the level is usually the minimum level that still suffices for your needs and is tolerated by people around you.
5 x

AndyMeg
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Re: Bex Spanish log 2019: a definitive guide on the slowest way to learn Spanish ever!

Postby AndyMeg » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:16 pm

Learning a second language for the first time is really hard, especially because we don't know how to go about it. We lack experience, we lack clarity, we lack patience.

As you know, I'm a native speaker of spanish. In my country, at school, we see a subject called "english", for at least 10 years. Besides the "english" from school, I also took an english course, 4 hours once a week, for about 4 or 5 years. Then, in my late teens I discovered "japanese mangas" (japanese comics) and wanted to read them. I didn't know japanese at the time, and it was really difficult to find japanese mangas translated into spanish. But I found a lot of japanese mangas translated into english. I told myself: "you have studied english for years, now is time to put it to good use". And I selected a manga that sounded really interesting and started to read it in english. It was HARD. After all those years of studying english both inside and outside of school, I could only read three pages before my head started to hurt and I had to stop for the day. But the story was really engaging to me, so the next day I came back to read more of it. At first I had to look most of the words in the dictionary, and I could only read about three pages before I had to stop for the day. But I kept coming back to read it, day after day, because the story was really interesting to me and I wanted to know what happened next. A month later I could read a chapter in one day. Three months later I could read various chapters a day. 10 months later I had already finished reading that manga, I had read others as well, and I read my most favorite manga ever in a span of 5 days (and it was 189 chapters long). In that year my understanding of written english improved massively. And the best part is that my main objective never was to improve my english, my objective was to enjoy the stories I wanted to read, and english happened to be my best bet for it at that time.

Now I can do a lot of things in english, and now I know a bit of japanese and a bit of korean. And I'm also learning a bit of chinese.

Something special is happening to me with chinese. I'm focusing only on improving my understanding of chinese subtitles from TV/Web dramas and somehow I'm feeling that I'm living a similar experience to the one I had the year I started to read japanese manga in english. I'm progressing faster that what I initially expected. It didn't happen with japanese, nor did it happen with korean (although I improved faster in korean than in japanese); but it is happening with chinese.

I had always wanted to have a similar experience with other languages, to the one I had during my first year of reading manga in english. And I always thought that I needed a solid base knowledge (for example being a solid "A2") before it could happen. But my recent experiment with chinese is changing my view.

I'm telling you all of this because I've noticed some things that may be of help to you. From my experiences so far, it seems that I learn best (faster and better) when I have a narrow focus and compelling native material that makes me eager to improve my understanding. In english, for example, I wasn't trying to speak, write and listen. I was just trying to enjoy reading mangas. This is a very narrow focus: is not only just english in written form, but especifically written english that came in the form of english-translated japanese manga. I didn't need Anki or similar additional tools, because the natural repetition of words and expressions within the same series and then within the mangas as a genre helped me to naturally remember the vocabulary after being exposed to it enough times in a meaningful context. And it didn't feel like studying at all because my main objective wasn't to improve my english, it was just to understand and enjoy the stories (that happened to be translated into english). And once you feel comfortable in a specific and very narrow context, then you can choose another narrow focus. And narrow focus by narrow focus, your general knowledge and ease with the language will expand.

Another thing that I realized is that it is easier to get more comprehensible input with a combination of text plus other clues. For the mangas it was the images and the comic format. For the chinese dramas I'm currently learning with, the additional clues (to the chinese subtitles) are what I see and what I hear and what I already knew or what I'm already familiar with (images, colors, non verbal communication, intonation, gestures, visual context, sounds, previous cultural or historical knowledge, common sense, story's logic, etc.). And you can look words in the dictionary or read about grammar whenever you feel the need to do so.

So, if you get frustrated for what you don't understand, then you may narrow your focus for some months. Choose what interests you the most, what you find the most compelling. Choose something that besides text also gives you additional contextual clues.

If you lack vocabulary choose some native material (or spanish translated material) that can help you to increase it. Native material (or spanish translated material) that you find inherently compelling to you, native material (or spanish translated material) that you truly want to be able to enjoy because you are genuinely interested in it. And native material (or spanish translated material) that gives you lots of contextual clues so that you don't have to exclusively rely on your currently known vocabulary and grammar.

And if, for example, you want to improve your understanding of spoken spanish, you may focus on just listening attentively with a transcription at hand and try to match the sounds with the text without caring whether or not you understand the meaning. Once you have assimilated the sounds of the language and get used to them and their patterns in speech, then you can focus on meaning.

Oh! I remembered! Taking breaks is important too. If you get oversaturated it is really hard and stressful to learn. If you find yourself tired of what you are currently doing, then you need a break. If you find yourself procrastinating, then you need to explore other options (other activities, other strategies, other methods).

Well, these are just some ideas drawn from my experiences so far. I hope they can be of help.

Learning languages takes a lot of time and effort, but it is immensely gratifying.

¡Ánimo! ¡Ánimo! ¡Ánimo!
¡Tú puedes!
Ya has logrado mucho y estoy segura de que puedes lograr incluso más. ;)
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