(Copied and pasted from my log)I MADE IT!
I have officially completed the Super Challenge in Spanish! *cue wild applause*
Reading has gotten really pleasant and easy for me.
When I first started the Super Challenge, I was able to read and enjoy novels. However, I couldn't read right before bed, since I had a hard time focusing when I was tired, and I often used a 20-minute timer so that I didn't put the book down after 10 or 15 minutes.
I can simply read for pleasure now, without having to put a timer on. I don't have the same stamina in Spanish that I have in English, but I can get lost in a book for 30 or 45 minutes before looking up to see how much time has passed. I can read Spanish novels in bed or in a hot bath, both of which would have put me to sleep at the beginning of the challenge. That's a huge win in my book! (See what I did there?)
I feel that my vocabulary has improved through extensive reading, as has my instinct for grammar and sentence structure. LISTENING
Listening has gotten *much* easier for me. I can follow most of what I hear, assuming that it's Castilian Spanish. Sometimes I get a bit lost during arguments or when everyone's speaking at the same time, but I'm usually able to pick up the thread again without much trouble. I can generally understand Latin American Spanish very well, but it takes me a bit longer to get into the groove.
My husband watched two full series with me (3 seasons each of Isabel and Gran Hotel), so I had access to subtitles far too often. While I tried to ignore the subtitles, I can be quite compulsive about reading every word (even if I'm watching closed-captioning in English), so it was hard not to look at them. I do think that my listening comprehension would have shown even more dramatic growth were it not for the subtitles. But then my husband wouldn't have added “no lo sé” to his daily vocabulary, and that would be a sad thing indeed.OVERALL EFFECT ON MY SPANISH
As I've already mentioned, I feel that the Super Challenge has led to dramatic improvements in my receptive abilities. It's had less of an effect on my productive language.
Over the past year and a half, I've put a much higher emphasis on input than on output. I probably spent about 3 hours per month speaking Spanish, and a tiny fraction of that writing. As a result, I don't feel that my speaking or writing have improved. If anything, they may have gotten worse.
But I do feel that I have a very strong Spanish foundation now and that I'm at the perfect place to start improving my output – all thanks to extensive reading and listening.
Want to read a few loooong posts reviewing the books that I read and the TV shows that I watched? Here you go:Spanish SC books and filmsThanks to Solfrid Cristina for organizing and motivating us! Thanks also to all SC-ers for the support and inspiration! See you in 2016!