I’ll be quick today, as I just spent ages paying our online teachers and material writers. There are quite a few of them these days, so the ‘back office’ stuff can be time-consuming (and a drag…)
Anyway, several people have written recently to say they like hearing about what I’m doing with my own language-learning.
The big news is that it was my wife’s birthday a few weeks ago and her parents bought her (us, really) plane tickets to Spain, for June when my teaching finishes.
Now I’ve been to Spain before, so it wasn’t top of my list of places to see. But she hasn’t, and it was her birthday.
Going to Spain, gotta learn some Spanish!
Fortunately it should be a relatively-simple process of converting from Italian, which I know fairly well, and/or French, which I can read and understand some, though not speak at all.
My eldest daughter will be spending a year at a university in South Korea, so has to learn Korean. I should thank my lucky stars!
I did start with Duolingo’s Spanish course a year or so ago, when a Spanish trip was mooted, but then quit as something else came up.
So the plan is to continue with the app (in fact, I’ve already restarted), so as to consolidate the basics. But not only – that would be a beginner’s mistake!
I’ve also downloaded the app for El Pais to my mobile phone, so in idle moments I’ve been looking at the breaking news on that. Spanish news headlines are mostly understandable for someone who’s comfortable reading Italian/French. Give it a try and you’ll see.
Duo’s content is grammar in a logical sequence, integrated with vocabulary organised by theme (family, work, clothes etc.) I like it, and it’s useful. But El Pais plays to the strengths I already have, so I’m getting more complex grammar and vocabulary on topics which I’m more interested in (corona virus, Brexit, the Democratic primaries…)
Besides those options, I also have the (really crappy) Spanish national radio/TV app on my smartphone, with a view to doing some extensive listening practice and generally tuning in my ear to the sounds of the language and the things people are talking about.
That approach has worked really well for me over the last few years, with Swedish (from zero, now B1-B2), Turkish (picking it back up after a twenty-five year break) and French (was ‘scolastico’ but now better, as knowing Italian helps a lot.)
Così. So I’m doing the guffo, some reading, and plan to listen more, despite the app’s horrible design (the French do state media apps really well, by the way…)
What I’m NOT so far doing is taking online lessons, or using our own materials for learning Spanish (ebooks etc.)
Yes, ‘che vergonga!’, I know. Especially as listening to/reading the Spanish easy readers, or studying the parallel texts, would be free for me. And I’m sure our teaching manager, Lucia, could find me an online teacher, if I asked.
But, but… I’m already doing one Swedish and one Turkish conversation lesson each week, plus loads of listening in Swedish, and some in French and Turkish. And there are only so many hours in the day, right?
The Spanish holiday’s in June, so I have, what, February, March, April and May? Call it sixteen weeks. A thirty-minute lesson a week, for sixteen weeks, wouldn’t make a vast difference. Neither would finishing Duolingo, or building a Spanish reading/listening habit. But all together? For four months? Plus I already know Italian? I’d say that should help a lot.
To do list: 1.) Ask Lucia to find me a Spanish teacher; 2.) Read/listen to a chapter a day of one of our easy readers, say four a month, working up through the first couple of levels by the end of May; 3.) Finish DL, without getting too silly about the competitive part; 4.) Find something better than the official state media app to listen to.
Four months at an hour a day (some combination of the above activities) equals approximately 120 hours, which would arguably put me somewhere in the A2 band – not yet ‘autonomous’ but a lot better than nothing at all, and easily able to say “A beer, please!”
Of course, writing everything down like this is just asking for trouble… Wait for the inevitable ‘Things got busy and I had to quit Spanish’ article! But perhaps finding an online teacher and having a regular weekly lesson will keep me interested?
Watch this space.
Don’t forget to snap up your copy of this week’s new, intermediate-level (B1) ‘easy Italian reader’ ebook, Zio Ciro e la pizza.
Until Sunday night it’s 25% off, at just £5.99. From Monday it’ll sell for £7.99, like the other easy readers in our online shop.
And here’s the usual Wednesday reminder to listen to Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news, which is absolutely free, no registration required.
Though you can subscribe (also free) and we’ll email you each edition – meaning you don’t have to remember to visit the website!