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Un año de español

¡Ya es noviembre! Casi no puedo creerlo. Ha sido más de un año aprendiendo español. Aquí viene la temporada festiva ocupada. Muy ocupada. Sin embargo, quiero tomarme un momento para reflexionar sobre octubre y el año número uno.

Honestly, I did not do as much in October for language learning as I have done in the past. However, I did write a new Spanish song and some journal entries. I have a bullet journal and a faux leather journal that I dedicate to writing only in Spanish. I’ve also been reading more in Spanish which was one of my goals for the month. I thought it would be nice to look back at the entire last year in this post, since October marks a full year of language learning. 

Milestones of year one 

  • Took two, 10 week-long basic Spanish classes  
  • Began using Duolingo again 
  • Rocket Spanish 
  • Yabla and FluentU 
  • Italki 
  • Insight Timer 
  • Many conversations: estimate 70 video chats and over 100 text/voice conversations
  • A few real-life conversations with the landscapers that worked on our front yard 🙂

October 2020 will be remembered as the anniversary of one year learning Spanish. I remember starting a beginner’s Spanish class at Casa de Espanol in Sacramento a year ago. I arrived a few minutes late because parking was tricky to find in the area. I remember most of the students were already there and the teacher was greeting me. I sat next to an older women who I later found out is a grandmother and her reason for learning Spanish is because her grandkids are half Mexican and speak some Spanish. During the first couple clases,  I concentrated so much on my pronunciation back then. Even though my vocabulary was weak I wanted my pronunciation to be damn good.  

Overall, the class went well. I did skip one or two classes because driving to Sacramento in the cold and dark was not something I enjoyed. It was also the retail season so we were very busy. I made it to the final class- week 10, and there were only three other people. The last class the teacher said that I have great pronunciation, as I was the first one to go up to the front and introduce another student to the class and talk about her. It was nice to hear that! Acepto mis cumplidos, ¡muchas gracias!

After the first class there were weeks before the next class started at the end of January. So, I began to seek out other ways to keep learning Spanish. I used Duolingo more often and I started using Hellotalk. Hellotalk was definitely a game changer because I was able to start conversations with native speakers. The app matches you with native speakers that want to learn your language; giving me plenty of opportunities for language exchanges. Most of the conversations are short lived and we don’t develop a friendship. Though, I have ongoing conversations with a handful of people that I consider friends. A huge motivating factor for travel is now to meet my friends in real life. This is the age of the internet and meeting people online first. 

At the end of February, I started my second class at Casa de Espanol in Sacramento. It went well for a few weeks, but I began to advance at a faster pace than the class since I was putting in a good hour or two of studying per day. Their classes are great but really slow since they are meant for busy adults. The teacher did not encourage studying or getting as much Spanish input as possible, which was surprising because that is what is needed to make noticeable progress. I became a bit restless and just really wanted more out of the classes by the last few weeks. 

After classes at Casa I turned my attention to one-on-one online lessons from Italki from native speakers. I think out of everything the lessons helped me the most because for that hour it was just me and the teacher or community tutor. It was great conversation practice and sometimes I learned a bit of grammar too. The lessons are also very affordable. There are many people that give conversation practice lessons at affordable prices. Many of them are not professional teachers, nevertheless it is great to be able to learn from native speakers. I remember some memorable moments like when I directly translated light house to casa de las luces when in reality the correct word is faro. Las casas de las luces actually means houses lit with Christmas lights to celebrate Navidad not lighthouses. 

I also took in a lot of input in Spanish in the form of TV shows, podcasts, audio for short stories, short videos, music, talks, and guided meditations; basically anything that would expose me to the language.  I recently watched a series about a jewish girl falling in the love with a natzi in Argentina during the time of WWll. It was a really cute  love story and I gained exposure to the Argentinian accent, which I do not hear as often. Argentina is a country that my brother wants to visit so we might stop by someday when we take our Central/South America trip. Plus, all the Argentinians I have briefly met through the internet have been friendly and easy-going.. 

It is now Noviembre! Lately, I have been playing a lot more ukulele and song-writing in Spanish and French. I enjoy song-writing and creating something new that never would have existed without me. Along with this blog, song-writing is another creative outlet. The more I write and create the more it inspires me to create more. I have written my second song in Spanish and my first song in French. I want to record the songs and share them sometime. Maybe it will be a future post!

¡Gracias por leer amigos! ¡Que tengas un noviembre maravilloso en cualquier parte del mundo!

Rosa Janelle

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