Clara's Spanish Log

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clara
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Clara's Spanish Log

Postby clara » Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:01 am

Hi, this is my first post here. I came across this site when trying to figure out next steps in my Spanish learning endeavor, and I love seeing so much information in the logs here, so I've decided to start one myself.

Purpose: This log is for accountability and to record my process.

Background: I feel like quite the newbie compared to most others here. Spanish is my first attempt to learn another language, and I just started in July on a whim due to the pandemic. I'm in my 40s which feels a bit late, but I'm quite enjoying the process and have much more discipline than when I was younger. English is technically my second language, but I am illiterate and incompetent in my first language so I'm not sure how to categorize that.

In my whopping 5 months of experience, I have done the following:

Grammer
  • Completed the Baselang Real World curriculum
  • Used KwizIQ for a month, completing A0 - 100% | A2 - 70% | B1 - 70% | B2 - 40%. I may come back to it, but I don't really enjoy it.
  • Gone through some of Practice Makes Perfect Complete Spanish Grammar, but I can't take it anymore. Apparently I hate grammar.
  • Used a verb conjugation app daily for the past 12 weeks. I feel like this is the most useful of the grammar exercises I have done, though it's clearly very limited in only hitting verb conjugation, and I wish I had a audio version of this.

Audio Visual comprehension
  • Watched lots of Youtube videos - favorites include BBC El Mundo, Noticias Telemundo, alanxelmundo, Luisito Comunica, TED en Español, VisualPolitik
  • Listened to lots of podcasts - favorites include How 2 Spanish, No Hay Tos, Radio Ambulante (above my level, but transcripts are helpful)
  • Watched all of La Casa de Papel with English subtitles (I wouldn't say I learned anything from this, but it gave me something to discuss with my tutors)
  • Watched 12 episodes of El Dragón (mostly without subtitles, will re-watch with Spanish or even English subtitles if needed)

Reading comprehension
  • Read books: 100% Ready Player One, 70% of Crepúsculo, and 70% of Sol de Medianoche
  • Read articles in Spanish from the New York Times, Washington Post, MIT Technology Review, El Pais and other sources

Other
  • Used Anki consistently every day, starting in mid-July, adding 40 new words per day
  • Conversed with tutors for 10+ hours per week since completing the Baselang curriculum in October. Including the curriculum, I have spent over 300 hours on the platform since July.

Going forward: I was feeling at a bit of a loss once I finished the Baselang curriculum, especially since my knowledge has a LOT of gaps and am not sure how best to fill in those gaps. I know I am missing automaticity and the FSI Basic Spanish program appeals to me for this reason. I went through the first three units this week and already feel that the speaking is so fast, but I think it will be very useful for me. My plan is as follows.

  • FSI Spanish
  • 5+ hours of conversation practice per week
  • Continue with Anki until I reach a point where adding 40 new words daily becomes too difficult, then maintain or add fewer words
  • Continue with daily conjugation practice
  • Consume written and audio materials - I've never had a set plan for this, since I seem to have no problem consuming input, though sometimes I binge more written or audio for a period.

If anybody has suggestions, I am all ears!
11 x
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clara
Yellow Belt
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:46 am
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... hp?t=16333
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Clara's Spanish Log

Postby clara » Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:33 am

Oops, double post! Not sure how to delete.
Last edited by clara on Fri Dec 04, 2020 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DaveAgain
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Re: Clara's Spanish Log

Postby DaveAgain » Fri Dec 04, 2020 8:19 am

Welcome to the Forum :-)
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Cavesa
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Re: Clara's Spanish Log

Postby Cavesa » Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:31 pm

Welcome to the forum!!! It's great to see a newbie, there is nothing wrong about being one! You seem to have done tons of work in those five months, as you are already reading books. You are also an Anki hero to me!

Btw how did you like Baselang? I keep reading about it and am curious. The impressions of a real newbie would be precious to read.

It is also not that rare to not like grammar. Most people don't. I like it (in the romance languages, not in some others though), but that doesn't change the fact that the most enjoyable thing about it is the result. If you learn it well, you will remove tons of obstacles from your way towards solid speaking and writing. And it is less vast and endless than the vocab learning odyssey :-)
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clara
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Re: Clara's Spanish Log

Postby clara » Sun Dec 06, 2020 6:29 am

Cavesa wrote:Welcome to the forum!!! It's great to see a newbie, there is nothing wrong about being one! You seem to have done tons of work in those five months, as you are already reading books. You are also an Anki hero to me!

Btw how did you like Baselang? I keep reading about it and am curious. The impressions of a real newbie would be precious to read.


Ah, maybe someday I will look back at this stage and wish I could be a newbie again. The pace is wonderfully fast when you know nothing!

Oof, what do I think of Baselang? I think it was good for me as a beginner because it gave me a clear path to follow, and doing it with tutors helped me stay on that path instead of overthinking everything which I am totally prone to doing. I LOVE the flexibility in scheduling (no penalty to cancel at the last minute), and I definitely learned a decent amount of Spanish through it. However, the curriculum has massive gaps. I think their philosophy is that students will pick up grammar through exposure, and I just don’t believe that’s true for me. I often worry that I am solidifying bad habits.

The curriculum requires students to complete 130 electives of their choice out of 570 available, in addition to the 150+ lessons over 9 levels of grammar / vocabulary. The electives are meant to be lessons centered around a topic with related vocabulary. Some teachers were very thorough and introduced vocabulary beyond what was on the provided slides, others rushed through a bit more which I didn't mind if the subject wasn't something I was particularly interested in. I found some of the electives to be weirdly specific. For example, I took one on nutrition expecting to read about food groups and macronutrients, but instead it was about celiac disease. One elective about vegetables turned out to really be about gout. But then I wanted to learn about basketball, and the vocabulary was beyond basic: ball, score, players, team, etc. So they were hit or miss. That said, I think the idea behind the elective system is great, and I learned a great deal from doing it.

Now that I'm done with the curriculum, I could continue with the other 440 electives available, but... no thanks. I rather bring my own topic and articles and discuss from there, learning related vocabulary. At this point, I am using Baselang for motivation, conversation and to answer questions. If I was interested in learning Spanish as efficiently or cheaply as possible, I would probably cut back or quit my use of Baselang. But I enjoy the time I spend talking to my favorite tutors as a way to stay engaged in the language, even if I'm not necessarily pushing myself to learn as much as possible during these sessions.

Cavesa wrote:It is also not that rare to not like grammar. Most people don't. I like it (in the romance languages, not in some others though), but that doesn't change the fact that the most enjoyable thing about it is the result. If you learn it well, you will remove tons of obstacles from your way towards solid speaking and writing. And it is less vast and endless than the vocab learning odyssey :-)


Hm, thinking about this more, my problem isn't that I hate grammar but that I love absurd amounts of repetition (hence my Anki streak), and I don't feel that KwizIQ or grammar workbooks have enough. I think KwizIQ only has 8 questions per topic, so if I struggle to understand one, 8 questions is woefully inadequate to truly get it through my thick skull. This is why my favorite grammar tool is the one that drills conjugation -- I can go through tons of verbs and tenses endlessly. I want more tedious repetition for my problem areas.
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: 100 / 100 SC 2020/1 Films - Double
: 100 / 100 SC 2020/1 Books
: 151 / 365 365 Day Challenge 2021

clara
Yellow Belt
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:46 am
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... hp?t=16333
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Re: Clara's Spanish Log

Postby clara » Sun Dec 06, 2020 6:48 am

This week I kept up daily Anki, daily verb conjugation, and had 11 hours of conversation practice. A few of those sessions were terrible. I felt like my brain was melting. But I ended on a good note and felt like I nailed the last one. Sometimes I am so happy to have the perfect occasion to use vocabulary words that have been stored deep in my brain. This week's favorites were: lacayo and mugriento.

Here's what I've done in the past two days:

El Washington Post podcast
This was my first time listening to it, and I think I'll add it as a possible alternative to Noticias Telemundo in my routine. Each episode runs about 18 minutes and is broken up into shorter segments. I'm trying to move away from Youtube sources where I can rely too much on visual context.

I had to review the first segment with a tutor, but I understood the other segments. My failure to understand was due to two factors: There were two voices with accents I found difficult to understand, and I was unfamiliar with the topic and vocabulary. I'm wondering if listening to the first segment a 4th time and trying to transcribe it would be worth the effort...

FSI Basic Spanish
I went through half of Unit 4, repeating the dialogue twice. Still getting a feel for FSI and how to best use it. I'm already hitting weaknesses like imperatives and object pronouns -- Imperatives was one of the last things I learned, and I rarely have the occasion to use it. I've been trying to do FSI while walking briskly, so I get in some cardio too. Extra bonus!

Reading
MIT Technology Review: I read 3 articles and wonder how good the translations are, since a few things struck me as possible mistranslations from the original English. I plan to review them in a future tutoring session.

Sol de Medianoche: Read to page 705 / 76%.
5 x
: 100 / 100 SC 2020/1 Films - Double
: 100 / 100 SC 2020/1 Books
: 151 / 365 365 Day Challenge 2021

clara
Yellow Belt
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:46 am
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Re: Clara's Spanish Log

Postby clara » Sat Dec 12, 2020 8:24 pm

Week of December 12

  • Anki: daily
  • Verb conjugation practice: daily
  • Sol de Medianoche: Pp 705 - 925. Finished!
  • New York Times: 8 articles
  • MIT Tech Review: 1 article
  • FSI Basic Spanish: Units 5 and 6
  • Baselang sessions: 9.5 hours
  • Podcasts: 1 hour
  • Youtube videos: 2.5 hours

Reading
This week was more reading heavy, since I wanted to finish off Sol de Medianoche. I started it a while ago and abandoned it when I started Ready Player One, but since finishing RP1 last month I’ve been waffling about what to read next. I tried excerpts of lots of novels from Amazon, hoping that one would draw me in, but I was also holding out in the hopes that Ready Player Two (which came out recently) would have a Spanish translation. Unfortunately it doesn’t, so I went back to SdM.

I read a bunch of longer NYT articles this week. I also spoke to a tutor about the Spanish edition of MIT Technology Review. He said the translations are high quality but that the mistakes I saw were indeed errors, though we're not sure if they’re from the original source or the translation. I'm just glad to confirm that I didn't misinterpret the content.

FSI Basic Spanish
FSI is moving along. Unit 5 felt like a breeze in comparison to 3 and 4. I thought I was getting the hang of it, but then the first half of unit 6 was frustrating. My problems stem from sound quality (I couldn’t even understand some of the English used in the translation drills), misunderstanding the format, and just having terrible memory. I’m surprised how much I’ve read that FSI is boring. I’m finding it too challenging to be boring.

Online lessons
Baselang changed their platform so that now all students have access to both their Real World and DELE curriculums. The DELE program used to cost more, and the programs were completely separate, with different instructors and materials. I love my instructors in the RW program and didn’t want to lose them, but now that they’re combined I’m going to check it out. I don't plan to take the exam, but I'd like to incorporate some writing into my studies, and this could be a good structured way to do so.

BL also made a change to their scheduling system, which could make booking my favorite tutor harder. I guess I’ll see how that goes.

Listening
I hadn’t watched El Dragon in a couple weeks and thought I should start back up, but I was reminded of why I stopped: I find one of the subplots incredibly annoying. I’m also surprised by how little I understood after not watching for a couple weeks. I felt incredibly lost and as if I’d imagined that I ever understood anything! Sigh. If I’m honest, I’ve never been much of a TV watcher and kinda want to drop it entirely. I didn't even finish the episode.

I started roughly tracking how much time I spend listening to podcasts and youtube videos. 3.5 hours is less than I expected, but I also skewed really heavily towards reading this week.
7 x
: 100 / 100 SC 2020/1 Films - Double
: 100 / 100 SC 2020/1 Books
: 151 / 365 365 Day Challenge 2021

clara
Yellow Belt
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:46 am
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B?)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... hp?t=16333
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Re: Clara's Spanish Log

Postby clara » Sat Dec 19, 2020 8:00 pm

Week of December 19

  • Anki: daily
  • Verb conjugation practice: daily
  • Armada: Chapters 1 - 19, 77%
  • New York Times: 4 articles
  • MIT Tech Review: 5 articles
  • FSI Basic Spanish: Units 7 and 8
  • Baselang sessions: 8 hours
  • Podcasts: 1 hour
  • Youtube videos: 2 hours
  • Diarios de Vampiros: Temporada 1, Episodios 1 - 4
  • Sobreviviente Designado: Temporada 1, Episodios 1 - 6

This week had its ups and downs. I spent a ridiculous amount of time perusing old threads here, which on the one hand were chock full of useful information but on the other hand were a distraction from immersing myself in Spanish. I took away two points that I’ve already applied to my language learning: (1) using dubbed series as a listening activity and (2) increasing the amount of media I consume extensively vs intensively.

I hit a streak of 100 days in a row of using my verb conjugation app, and I’ve also used Anki for over 160 days in a row.

I’m enjoying keeping this log and seeing exactly how I’m spending my time studying Spanish. It helps me better understand the “balance” of activities I have. This week felt a bit more balanced in that I binged on both reading and tv instead of just one.

Reading
After downloading lots of Kindle samples and reading a few, I decided to just plunge into Armada, another book by Ernest Cline. Given the language and characters of Ready Player One, I expected Armada to have straightforward characters and plot without much nuance. It’s not failing me there, but I’m a little disappointed by how similar the vocabulary is to RP1. Looking at the bright side, it gives me the opportunity to read extensively instead of intensively.

I also read 9 articles. Unlike the English version, MIT Technology Review in Spanish is free.

FSI Basic Spanish
Units 7 and 8 were much easier. I’ve relaxed a bit on the dialogues. As long as I can repeat each set of lines, even if it’s slower than the speed of the orators, I’m calling that good. Speaking quickly causes me to slur, and I don’t think that’s beneficial. Maybe that’s something I need to work on more, but for now I’m letting that go.

I’m starting to understand how people might think FSI is mind-numbing. Part of me wants to skip ahead to areas I know I have more difficulty with, but I know I make plenty of mistakes at a very basic level. The drills are increasing my consciousness of the basics when I speak, though I wouldn’t say I’ve reached any level of automaticity yet. All in all, I believe FSI is helping me improve.

Online Lessons
I was really excited to learn that I now have access to writing lessons on Baselang, but I got completely sucked into reading and watching tv instead of taking advantage of them. I will probably hold off on writing lessons until the new year, since I haven’t been able to schedule as many lessons as usual this month due to my favorite teachers having time off and my own schedule being a little busier. I’m worried there will be a flood of new students in January and that I will have an even harder time booking lessons.

Highlights of this week include using subjunctive spontaneously and correctly a couple times. There were still plenty of other mistakes and many missed opportunities for subjunctive, but I'm going to call that a win.

Audio/Visual Input
I often watch/listen to videos/podcasts twice, but this week I decided not to. I’m feeling a bit burnt out on intensive watching / listening and wanted to give myself a break, so the overall quantity is higher, but quality of listening is lower. I listened to the latest How to Spanish podcast and a couple El Washington Post podcasts.

I saw a recommendation for dubbed series, or Buffy in particular. Unfortunately Buffy isn’t on Netflix, but the next closest thing I could find was the Vampire Diaries which I started watching. I know the point isn’t to watch a teen vampire show specifically, but I went with it. A friend recommended the show Designated Survivor, and I started watching that as well. Overall, I’m surprised that dubbed dialogue is much easier to understand than native-language series, and my brain is relieved to not have to strain so much to understand!
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: 151 / 365 365 Day Challenge 2021

clara
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Re: Clara's Spanish Log

Postby clara » Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:51 pm

Week of December 26

  • Anki: Daily, plus a LOT of time creating new cards
  • Verb conjugator: Daily
  • Armada: Chapters 20 - 26, FINISHED! (+23%)
  • El juego de Ender: Chapters 1 - 11, 61%
  • Other reading: 3 articles from Washington Post Opinion and MIT Technology Review
  • FSI Basic Spanish: Unit 9
  • Podcasts: 1 hour (How to Spanish, El Washington Post)
  • Youtube: 2 hours
  • Sobreviviente Designado: 1.7 - 1.16 (10 episodes)
  • Online tutoring: 5.5 hours

I feel like I should have gotten more done this week given how much down time I had, but Anki was a massive time suck.

I've been thinking ahead to goals for 2021. I know my weak points right now are writing, grammar, listening comprehension, and automaticity in speaking. I've been using FSI to address automaticity and plan to do 1 Unit per week. In the past couple weeks, I have increased the quantity of reading and TV series watching, and I'm honestly a bit obsessed. I'd like to take advantage of this input binge and see how far it can take me in a few months instead of trying to force grammar and writing. I'll iron out my goals and plans with more detail before the new year, but I think grammar and writing will take a back seat for a few months of hammering input. I'm curious to try KwizIQ again, perhaps in the spring, to see if so much input will have any affect on my grammar skills.

Anki
I spent the beginning of this week going over words to add to Anki, which took muuuuuuch longer than I would have liked, literally hours and hours. I then pored over the forum and read everything I could find about Anki and saw a great tip about using the Google Sheets function GOOGLETRANSLATE to do automatic lookups. This helped me create a few hundred cards much more easily, and now I won’t have to import words for a couple weeks. Anki management is becoming much more of a chore, but I am determined to hit 10k combined mature and young cards before slowing down. I’m currently at 5203 mature and 2024 young cards. If I can maintain my current pace, I should hit my 10k goal in March.

Reading
I only read 3 news articles this week, but I finished Armada and started El juego de Ender. Given that the plot and theme of Armada was heavily influenced by El juego de Ender, there is a lot of overlap in vocabulary, but the writing style is noticeably different. This is the first book I’ve read that is written in 3rd person. I thought I would miss having the variety of 1st person, but there is actually a bit of internal 1st person monologue.

I thought it was amusing when I highlighted “insectores” on my Kindle app, and the Wikipedia lookup said it was a term coined in the book El juego de Ender.

Online Lessons
I wasn’t able to schedule many lessons this week. It’s interesting how a couple days off can affect my ability to speak. This coming week will be light too.

Other
Not much to say about FSI or audio/visual input. Similar quantity of input as last week. I’ve gotten more exposure to Usted/Ustedes. Armada and El juego de Ender have sections of more formal dialogue than previous books. Sobreviviente Designado also has a lot of Usted.
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: 100 / 100 SC 2020/1 Books
: 151 / 365 365 Day Challenge 2021

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Re: Clara's Spanish Log

Postby Wernecker » Sun Dec 27, 2020 2:27 pm

clara wrote:I’m surprised how much I’ve read that FSI is boring. I’m finding it too challenging to be boring.


I don't find FSI courses boring but challenging! Suerte con tu español!
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