I decided in May that I would focus in June on learning Spanish. After a little research I settled on two primary tools: Lingvist for vocabulary memorization, and LanguageTransfer for the free lectures on grammar. Having used them for the month, they weren't the perfect tools and I have a better idea of what I need going forward.
In total, I think I spent roughly 25 hours over the course of the month on it. As I noted before there were two primary apps that I used: LanguageTransfer, and Lingvist. Lingvist tells me I've spent nearly 19 hours in it as I completed flashcards. Looking over the lectures in LanguageTransfer and where I am, I think I spent nearly 4 hours with those lectures. And then there were various other smaller things I did to try and learn, or videos I watched, etc.
As I noted a few days ago, one thing I have realized with this challenge is that I lacked a proper way to keep motivated by seeing visible progress. Lingvist gives me some small tools to do this, but they ended up not being enough. Things like the daily calendar that tracks that I did flashcards. LanguageTransfer only has it by seeing the number of my lecture increase. For the latter, I quickly lost steam. At the start of the month I was doing 2 or 3 lectures, and taking long notes as I did translations and tried to absorb it. But by the middle of the month, my drive for them fell off and I kept making excuses of other things I needed to do.
I would repeatedly plan to do the lectures during lunch, but since I had my work laptop open in front of me, I would instead do work (sometimes) or more frequently just watch YouTube or something else.
I did keep up my flashcards, doing on average 2-3 sets of flashcards a day. Lingvist estimates I know 1450 Spanish words but I believe what they are actually saying is they think I know how to translate 1,450 English words into Spanish. Things like adjectives which have a masculine and feminine form count as two, verbs with different conjugations count as multiple for me knowing how to say, "I know" and "You know" and "he knows" and "they know" all count differently.
So, I take that number with a grain of salt.
At the start of the month I took a 50-question Spanish Proficiency Test I found online, knowing I would want a way to quantify my progress. Unfortunately, I did not write down my score when I took it at the start of the month, but I believe it was a 12/50. I just retook the test and am, frankly, embarrassed to say I only got 18/50. It's progress but I honestly expected to have done better. Not that I expected to ace it, but that I thought I'd get somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 questions right.
I did save each page of the test so I can go back and try to figure out the answers and understand what I got wrong.
- I did some things right - I have made progress. I know more words. I understand more of Spanish grammar. But in both cases I don't think the way I did it was the best and if I am going to take on a new language in the future I won't do this same method without additional supplements or changes.
- I have to manage expectations, learning a language is a slow process - I had dreams of it being a 30 days and then I'd be much more fluent. I knew I wouldn't be completely fluent doing this. I'm doing it as a side project somewhere that I am not immersed in the language at all. But I still imagined my improvement being bigger and more obvious. So, I will have to keep in mind for future languages to know it is a slow process.
- Lingvist wasn't as great as I thought at the start - After a month of using Lingvist I have actually been fairly disappointed. There are a number of things about the app I don't like, so I will probably look to move off of it and figure out a new tool for vocab spaced memorization. My complaints come down to 3 things:
- They treat every form of a word as a unique word - I am sure for some people this makes sense. But it bothers me. Teach me the base of an adjective rather than both forms. Teach me the base of a verb rather than its individual conjugations. Etc.
- Errors & Typos - The way they ask a question there is some helpful information that comes along with the question. I found several typos, or in some cases they highlighted the wrong word in translation from what they actually wanted, etc.
- It's only translating in one way - It is entirely giving me a sentence in Spanish and asking me to fill in a word. DuoLingo has more variety and asks you to translate from English into Spanish, and I found over the course of the month I really wanted that as part of my practice. I would try to come up with my own sentences to translate into Spanish, but I wish it was part of the tools I had at my disposal, taking the words I currently "know" and constructing sentences to write.
So, the 30 day challenge is over, but I am of course not stopping my efforts to learn Spanish. I will continue to do the flashcards, probably not as intensely as I have been. Lingvist recommends doing 4 sets of flashcards a week (vs. the 14+ I was doing each week this month). As mentioned above, I plan to move away from Lingvist, but will still do vocab exercises. I still want to do LanguageTransfer lectures. And I might now look for a formal Spanish tutor to work with once a week or so and try to further it that way, there is a website called italki.com, which connects people with tutors or teachers in various languages.
In addition, I plan to come back in a few months with another focused study period for Spanish, it probably won't be for a full month, but we'll see.
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