As it has been a while since I have discussed the progress with Spanish, I thought an update would be nice.
As I have mentioned previously, Sara and I had paid for a yearly subscription to use Rosetta Stone Latin-American Spanish learning. I finally completed the course a while ago, and while I am far from fluent, in my opinion it is a pretty good starter to becoming more familiar with the sound and use of the language. My most significant gripe with the structure of the course is that it introduces everything through the use of images. So when new words appear, you have to try and understand their meaning through a series of pictures and this can be somewhat ambiguous for me. So conditional, past perfect and future perfect verbs (and more) for me is very ropey still. However, nouns are a lot more definitive and I feel that I can recognise and understand a lot more in that area.
After running through the Rosetta Stone lessons, I now focus primarily on playing the Spanish learning games, the occasional review lesson and they offer a free weekly group session. I have taken partial advantage of the group session because if truth be known, they terrify me for some reason. I have a little bit of an issue when engaged in these sorts of activities, I get nervous sweats and I get all flustered. My logical mind tells me that I need to calm it, but some emotional system kicks in and seems to consider that I am in the midst of some sort of personal attack! I immediately want to flee from it and hide under some cushions! This could be a limiting factor in my growth and use of the language, but I am trying to improve at a pace that I can handle.
On top of this, Sara and I are both using Duolingo which is a free to use website that gamifies the language learning experience. It also makes it social in that you can add friends to your account and they can add you and you can see how all your friends are doing and send them messages, and encouragement. It is sometimes useful for people to be accountable to someone, whoever it is, to assist them in achieving their objectives. Setting a goal and telling a group of people that will encourage and motivate you can really assist in reaching your objectives. So if you want to learn Spanish, go to Duolingo, sign up and add Sara and I! Just spend 30 minutes that would have otherwise been spent watching some pointless tat on television (and it is likely to be tat, whilst you can always argue that knowing the ins and outs of the latest flavour of actor or actress personal life enriches your life, it is probably just tat), on some educational stuff, and you’ll be surprised how fun it is!! 🙂 So I have been working with Duolingo for a while now, and that is really enjoyable. It has a different approach to Rosetta Stone, in that it does direct translations, so you see a phrase or words, and you need to translate those into the equivalent in the alternative language. Have I made that sound really confusing? Okay, an example may be, ‘Me lavo las manos’ and you will be required to enter the English translation. The progression of new vocabulary is quite okay. However for me the new words are not practiced enough, so I do not retain them as well as the vocabulary (that I understand) in Rosetta Stone. As a free resource it gets a 5 out of 5 for fun and learning factor.
Another area of our learning is our Netflix subscription. Many evenings we will try and catch a bit of a movie or a series in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. This is great, but can be a little demoralising when you catch about 2% of a 50 minute episode of House of Cards, and just make the rest up based on the facial expressions of the actors! However, due to my intensely movie heavy childhood, a movie that I watched way too many times to ever be considered healthy was The Princess Bride. I watched it on VHS sooooo many times while my peers were getting an education, a social life, and learning what boys and girls did after puberty! All that was going on and I was learning the script to the movie that has finally become useful! Ha, how I now laugh at all you people that thought my youth was completely misspent. I can know listen to this movie in Spanish (often whilst preparing food) and I can nearly automatically translate based on my familiarity with the original language movie! 🙂 I have to say, that I still love it, but i suspect that much of that adoration is probably steeped in the memories it incites of a fond childhood. So this is a thing that I would highly recommend, and I think for the cost of $8 per month or something similar that it is a great investment in one’s goal of advancing skills with Spanish at least. Netflix seems to do many movies with a Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese translation. I do not know if this is location based however.
As if that wasn’t enough I have a daily routine of using an app called Anki. This is a flashcard memorisation aid that allows decks of cards to be downloaded, shared or created! These will then be repeated daily, depending on the size of the deck you will receive particular cards at intervals defined based on how well you mark down that you recall the details on the card. I heard of this on a habit forming website that I use called Lift. Lift can be used to develop accountability with others that I mentioned early by becoming part of a large network of people that are hoping to introduce new things into their lives and develop new habits. I have had an account for a few months now and I have given ‘props’ to a range of people and get and receive comments often. That is nothing to do with the Spanish but does provide ideas of how other people are doing the things that you may want to do! 🙂
Please note that as I mentioned at the top of this post, my skills in Spanish resemble a new-born babies ability to use the lavatory. So I am probably not in the strongest position to advise. However, I feel that my familiarity is growing and that it is still fun, and if it is something that you may want to try, why not look into some of the methods above, especially given that the most that they will cost you is time, whilst this is the most valuable of all resources, it seems that most people give it less value than money! 🙂
Good luck with your learning and I hope to see you on one of the above soon. 🙂 Please let me know if you have any techniques not stated above as I love to develop my learning from as many angles as possible. That way I may remember at least one of them! 🙂