Spanish Saturday – The End

DuolingoOwlAccording to Doulingo I am now 35% fluent in Spanish! I have also earned enough Lingots to give my owl some sweet new digs! The rest of my action plan has not fared so well…

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 70/66 days of practicing Spanish
  • 0/1 Pimsleur Spanish audio-book completed
  • DONE – 2/2 Spanish movies watched
  • 6/10 Spanish children’s books read
  • DONE – 3/1 Spanish podcasts reviewed
  • 0/1 Spanish meet ups attended

Grade: F

Incentive: I have NOT earned my News in Slow subscription yet.

Lessons Learned: I am still learning that summer is a rough time for personal development. I am proud of the progress I have made, and love the Duolingo app on my phone. But I do know that I could have done much better. Rather than focusing on my lack of progress I am going to redouble my efforts and continue improving my Spanish language skills.

One Month Goals: Complete the rest of my existing action plan!

Any words of encouragement are certainly welcome in the comments I as I work to achieve my goals!

Movie Madness: Spanish Films

I am a huge movie buff so I wanted to use films to improve my fluency in Spanish.

PP_YTuMamaTambien

Y Tu Mama Tambien (English Subtitled)

This Oscar nominated film is not my cup of tea. I made it to the pool scene where the two friends are masturbating together and gave up. The dialog was hard for me to follow even with English subtitles. They spoke very quickly, and there was a lot of voice over narration. I was only catching flashes of dialogue. I decided to go a different route in my second attempt.

 

PP_Hotel_Transylvania_2_posterHotel Transylvania 2

Since I had a hard time with a “real” Spanish film Clayton suggested that I watch Dora the Explorer instead. He thinks he’s very clever, but he did inspired me to watch an animated film dubbed in Spanish. Dubbed live-action movies are distracting because of the disparity between the voice and facial movements, but cartoons just approximate mouth movements. Diction is also much better with voice actors. Besides a kid’s movie is on par with my proficiency level.

Bonus Movies!

PP_AntMan PP_Avengers PP_Interstellar PP_RATF

When we were on our cruise the television in our room was set with Spanish subtitles. I read loud the Spanish translations of Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Interstellar, and Ricki and the Flash. Comic book movies are well suited to foreign language development. You get the benefit of new vocabulary words, idioms, and simple sentence structure with very few dramatic monologues.

Through trial and error I have found 2 new ways to help build my Spanish skills. There is a great selection of cartoons on Netflix that have been dubbed in Spanish, and if I watch a movie I’ve already seen I will add Spanish subtitles. When I am more fluent I would like to try watching a foreign film for native speakers again.

Please share your favorite Spanish movie in the comments so I can start a to-watch list.

Spanish Saturday – The Middle

I think this is the first time I have dreaded an midpoint review. Ah well, time to face the music.

Action Plan Progress:

  • 42/66 days of practicing Spanish
  • 0/1 Pimsleur Spanish audio-book completed
  • 0/2 Spanish movies watched
  • 1/10 Spanish children’s books read
  • DONE – 3/1 Spanish podcasts reviewed
  • 0/1 Spanish meet ups attended

Grade: C

Lessons Learned: With back to back vacations I have not made much progress on my action plan. Since I was travelling internationally I also didn’t have ready access to my Duolingo app so I had to improvise. I’ve also slipped on my weekly check ins. At this point it is fair to say this has been my worst showing with a habit to date.

That is in direct contention with the fact that I am really enjoying this habit. The Duolingo app is well built and taps into my competitive streak. It also helps that I have a good support group of people who are familiar with the language. While we were cruising my friend Ed would randomly quiz me on my Spanish vocabulary, and everyone was very understanding of my playing on my phone while we were at port.

I am learning perseverance with this habit. Things aren’t always going to go exactly as I planned, but it’s okay to adjust course while trying to stick to a commitment you made to yourself.

Pertinent Podcasts

Even though I don’t have a 3 hour commute anymore, I still try to make time for good podcasts. There are some great language podcasts out there so I sampled the ones with the best reviews. The podcasts below are listed in order of preference.

Spanish Obsessed

In each episode Rob, an English man, and Liz, a Colombian woman, have a short conversation. They translate the conversation and give you an opportunity to speak along with them. Each lesson is approximately 10 minutes. If you sign up on their website you can see a full transcript of the conversation.

I found it helpful that they don’t just focus on the exact translations, but also discuss the intention of the phrase. Also at the end they have a bit of fun giving you options for different phases or words you can use in the same scenario.

News in Slow

I could only listen to the beginning of the episodes without a subscription, but I like the samples. So much so that I am going to change my incentive for completing this habit. Once I hit my 66 days, I am going to sign up for the bronze subscription!

Right now I could only follow bits and pieces of the episode, but I think once I have a better foundation this site will really help improve my Spanish skills. If you’re further along than I am I would definitely check this podcast out.

SpanishPod101 

I was not impressed with their website. You have to sign up immediately and there is a hard sell right up front. Once I finally got to listen to the first lesson I found Fernando and JP engaging. Their use of practical scenarios like starting you off in a grocery store is a fantastic idea.

They also do a great job of breaking down the sample conversation and analyzing the vocabulary and grammar. The sessions are very short at 5-10 minutes.

I am going to stick with Spanish Obsessed for the time being, until I reach my goal and purchase a subscription to News in Slow. I liked SpanishPod101 but I’m not going to invest a lot of time in it right now.

Do you listen to any great language podcasts? Please share your favorites in the comments below.

Language Learning Tools

I chose Duolingo for my Spanish habit because I used a beta version for German a few years ago. I really liked the user interface, and since then they’ve come out with a great phone app. Below are some other online learning tools that seemed worth exploring, listed in order of preference.

Anki – More than just a language tool, Anki can help you remember anything you need to study. It is an open source tool with a very simple interface, but that makes it easy to use. I’ve created a deck for Spanish vocabulary and my project management exam.

Busuu – Similar to Duolingo. Select a language and determine your skill level. Lesson 1 starts with greeting people. I like the quick tips that are interspersed in the lessons like what time of day to use buenos dias. There are also images with the words which is very helpful. A key difference is that with Duolingo there are pronunciation exercises where you speak the words and phrases, but Busuu is all written exercises.

Memrise – Again, similar to Duolingo and Busuu, but my least favorite of the bunch. Their user interface is not well done, and you only focus on a few words at a time. I prefer Duolingo’s approach of using phases to reinforce the vocabulary.

I am excited to start building my Anki decks, but will pass on the Busuu and Memrise in favor of Duolingo. Duolingo is free, no adds, and no upselling. Plus it’s working for me so far!

Have you tried any other online language learning tools? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Spanish Saturday – The Start

Hola amigos! I have become increasingly interested in learning a new language, and it’s time to turn that wish into a goal!

Habit: Practice Spanish on Duolingo for 30 minutes every day for 66 days.

Start Date: 04/17/2016

Projected End Date: 06/22/2016

Action Plan:

  • Practice on Duolingo
  • Listen to a Pimsleur Spanish audio-book
  • Watch 2 Spanish movies
  • Read 10 Spanish children’s books
  • Find a good Spanish podcast or radio show
  • Attend a meet up or find people willing to converse with me in Spanish

Incentive: A weekend trip to a fun locale where we can immerse ourselves in a Spanish-speaking community.

Lofty Goal: Attain enlightenment!

I took 4 years of Spanish in high school and some of my family members have a passing fluency. I figured my background with Spanish would make it an easier habit to dive into. I never gave learning a second language a shot in school, but I’m ready to take it more seriously this time around.

Ultimately I would like to become fluent enough in Spanish to add it to my resume. I’ve always wanted to travel more for work, and being able to speak another language will open new doors for me.

Follow me on Duolingo, and kick start your own habit!