B1 Spanish in 158 Days Mission: Update One

In my first post announcing my Spanish language learning mission on November 28th, I had set some mini-goals for myself that I felt pretty good about. I believed my plan was well rounded and would allow me to quickly progress toward my ultimate goal of B1 or better by May 5, 2018.

As I write on New Year’s Eve, this is a fitting time to provide an about my progress which will include what I’ve learned thus far, what’s working and what isn’t, and what I’m going to do next in order to hit my ultimate goal which isn’t very far away at all!

Time Left in Goal to B1 Spanish

The Mini-Goals I Set For Myself:

  • Complete the Elemental Sounds Course by December 15th
  • Complete 1,000 repetitions in Glossika by Christmas
  • Hold my first conversation before New Years
  • Reach 1,000 known words in LingQ by New Years
  • Post one video per month on YouTube, practicing my Spanish dialogue scripts

Elemental Sounds Mini-Goal

I did complete all of the drills in the “Elemental Sounds” course in time. I did not manage to watch every minute of every webinar, but I do feel good that I have a resource I can keep coming back to in order to hone my pronunciation which will improve both my listening comprehension but also how well others can understand me.

Glossika Mini-Goal

Using the new AI Glossika, I have exceeded 1,000 sentences, actually being closer to 1,400. While it’s great that I have accumulated more repetitions than I anticipated, I need to get better at chaining days in a row instead of doing larger cram sessions on weekends or when other time blocks present themselves.

Conversation Mini-Goal

I have not yet had an official conversation. I have been having some text exchanges through a language learning conversation app on my smartphone, but it’s time to see what I’m really capable of with a native speaker…

This should help, but I am a little nervous. 60 minutes is a long long time for a guy who can barely get through pleasantries! Even so, going into this with realistic expectations, patience, and an understanding of how OK it is to make mistakes should allow it to be a productive session.

Known Words Mini-Goal

This is one of the ones that I really fell down on. I only got up to 446 known words in Spanish on LingQ out of 1,000, however, I did create MANY LingQs (350, actually) which are “new” words that I can continue to review and use in context until I have fully incorporated them into my memory.

YouTube Video Mini-Goal

Just yesterday, I posted the first-ever video of me speaking Spanish publicly. I was able to get through some very introductory phrases that I might use in a typical daily conversation with a new acquaintance or colleague, but I’ve got a long way to go, especially if I would like to understand the replies given to me and how to go broader and deeper in terms of topics and expression.

What’s Not Working

The #1 thing that I need to improve moving forward is consistency. I am convinced that the most important thing in language learning is discipline and building the study habit. I believe that it’s actually less important about what you do and how much time you spend as long as it’s done every single day. A more aggressive goal will require more study time, of course, but forming and protecting the habit will determine your success more than anything else!

The second thing that isn’t working for me, and which honestly scares me a little, is the idea of “premature literacy”. I actually pumped the brakes on reading so much with LingQ because I started to notice something similar to what I’ve experienced in French: I can read and understand significantly better than I can speak and USE the language already! This leads to massive frustration and creates imbalances in your ability that can be hard to correct once you’ve reached more advanced stages.

What I’m Going to Change Moving Forward

In order to combat inconsistency, I am going to do a few things. First, I will prioritize my language learning in terms of where it appears in my morning routine. This means moving it up in the order of operations I try to execute in order to have an optimal day. Next, I will also try to create more visibility and awareness by tracking my daily study sessions on a visual planner. I will likely use a print-out sheet but may also have a digital scorecard too for the convenience factor.

I am going to need more accountability for following through, and I’ll get it by sharing the goal and the trackers with a close friend who has agreed to help me reach my goals. I can also try and get more involved in other language learning communities like the Fluent in 3 Months or #WeDoLanguages Facebook groups. I know that enrollment for a new session of Add1 challenge opens up tomorrow, but I’m not sure if I will commit to it yet or not. There is something to be said for social groups and accountability, though, so I will post an update if I do join.

Finally, I need to address my “study mix” so that I don’t fall into the trap of focusing only on input-based study activities. I will track minutes spentĀ speaking and writing and try to make these two take up the majority of my study time. I know that re-allocating my time like this will drive the kind of results I am looking for, so I need to really push myself out of my comfort zone to get this accomplished.