español rapidamente + 'ivrit k'mechonit yerushalmi | My language mission and my log | Forum

español rapidamente + 'ivrit k'mechonit yerushalmi | My language mission and my log | Forum

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español rapidamente + 'ivrit k'mechonit yerushalmi
December 15, 2012
22:41
Jon
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Growing up in California, I've had encounters with Spanish my entire life (at least that part lived here). My wife works at a school with many ESL children who speak Spanish at home. But most critically to me, I want to raise my children bilingual in English and Spanish enough to qualify to enter the local dual language immersion school. I have about 3 years for my son to get up to speed.

I'm 4 chapters in to Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal and am working my way through Michel Thomas Advanced Spanish. I read La Opinion articles on California every day and will probably get around to watching some Spanish TV, but I don't watch much TV in any language. I'm gonna start on verbling or some similar site soon as well.

Thing is, I'm mostly interested in learning Spanish as it is spoken in the United States. This obviously involves speakers of varying cultures, but there is a Spanish media in the US that is shared in common. If pinned down, I'd want to speak as if I were a Mexican from LA, not a Cuban from Miami. But whatever. If there is such a thing as español estadounidense, that's what I'm after.

 

***

 

After I get that squared away, I'm going to start getting my merely basic Hebrew in order so that when I go back to Israel in 2013, I'll do better than the pathetic "let me just speak English to you" looks I got last time. For this, I will probably have to go back into Hebrew From Scratch—not my favorite text—and Pimsleur II. If ERIC ever puts the graded readers back up, I'll do those too. I have some other materials from friends I can listen to as well.

 

Assuming I can get all of that taken care of, I would like to get a basic Turkish and Farsi study course going. I love Istanbul and would like to spend more time there. 

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December 18, 2012
13:52
Kez

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Jon said
But most critically to me, I want to raise my children bilingual in English and Spanish enough to qualify to enter the local dual language immersion school. 

That's a great motivation! Doing it for your children should keep you motivated any day. If you're already able to read Harry Potter in Spanish I'm quite sure that you're on the right path.

It says that you learned German, French & Scandinavian languages, are they only on hold because you're focusing on Spanish or did you actually stop with them?

Best of luck!

Speaking:  Nederlands   Learning:  File:Flag of Sweden.svg Future: Esperanto Spanish German
December 18, 2012
13:57
Jon
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Kez said
It says that you learned German, French & Scandinavian languages, are they only on hold because you're focusing on Spanish or did you actually stop with them?
Best of luck!

I studied German in high school and college and was raised bilingual in Norwegian and English for my first couple of years. It comes back to me easily if I'm there. In my teenage years I lived for a while in Finland and learned some Finnish and Swedish.

I think with a strong push, I can get fluent in Spanish.

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December 19, 2012
01:08
Jon
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I continue to get through Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal and I can say that reading books just a bit above your level has to be one of the best things you can do to learn a language. I figure out words I don't know just from reading.

 

I tried verbling.com for the first time tonight and chatted with a medical student in Mexico. That was fun.

 

I think I'm going to add to my goals a bit more specificity. I would like to pass the DELE at level C1. I think that would be a nice addition to my collection of credentials. 

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December 19, 2012
14:54
anno
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Good luck on your ivrit!winksmile

Speaks:    Learning  Hebrew Learning Blog   ||   Korean Learning Blog
"The key to success is making a million mistakes. . now let's make as many as fast as we can!" Note: Please contact with email -- hangugeohakseng[at]gmail[dot]com -- not with PMs. Thank you!^^
December 20, 2012
13:31
HumanLabRat

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I haven't given it a lot of thought, but I suppose I would want to speak Spanish as a Puerto Rican since I live in central Florida. Although, years ago I had a friend from Puerto Rico and had asked her what a few words were in Spanish. Each time she told me they just used the English word. Finally I turned to her and said "I don't think you actually know Spanish." wink

It's great that I'm following behind you in learning Spanish as I can use your ideas to help myself. I've already looked up some local newspapers to read. I'm also going to check out my local library to see what books they offer in Spanish besides children's books. I'm still a while away before I can attempt any book that I would interest me but I can add it to my list of things to accomplish in Spanish.

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December 28, 2012
23:05
Jon
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I finished Harry Potter I and have moved on to El Hobbit and started reading two Spanish language newspapers, one from LA and one from Spain and occasionally listening to CNN Español. It's really boosting me up, but I need to speak more.

I've also started writing things on lang8. When I correct people, I try to distinguish carefully between something that's unintelligible, something that's grammatically incorrect, something that's merely awkward and something that's a matter of style, and then perhaps subtle tones of meaning if they're up there enough. I'm finding that the corrections give me basically don't do that and I'm wondering if they really grasp my intent and if this is a profitable use of my time or not.

More verbling, I think.

 

Jon said
I continue to get through Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal and I can say that reading books just a bit above your level has to be one of the best things you can do to learn a language. I figure out words I don't know just from reading.

 

I tried verbling.com for the first time tonight and chatted with a medical student in Mexico. That was fun.

 

I think I'm going to add to my goals a bit more specificity. I would like to pass the DELE at level C1. I think that would be a nice addition to my collection of credentials. 

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January 10, 2013
12:31
Jon
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My Spanish is going really well. Between satellite radio having Spanish news when I drive, SAP on most TV channels, and easy to get ebooks, I've got the listening and reading parts down pretty well.

But I've got to get speaking more, and it's my own fault I haven't.

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January 17, 2013
21:00
Jon
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Notas de viaje:

El plan: obtener una diploma DELE B2

El metodo: la improvisación. 

Objetivo: aprender la idioma que sólo conozco por los libros

Equipo: una computadora, Platiquemos, y una conexión a la red. 

El piloto: un alma vana que sueña con hablar

El sueño: hablar

----------

I'm pretty sure I'm well within the B1 level now. I am pretty close to a passing score on the sample DELE B2s. I have four months. Should be more than enough time to get there. With the goal of perhaps enjoying a trip to Puerto Rico in the next few months.

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January 29, 2013
15:32
Jon
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It's been about 10 days since my last update. I feel like I've experienced a breakthrough and that now without any more breakthroughs, but just an investment of time, I'll be able to crush the DELE B2 in May and think about the C1 or C2 by 2014.

Here are some of the things I've done since I started.

  • [$$$] Michel Thomas. The mnemonics have really helped me. ***
  • [$/free] Read books. I started with Harry Potter and have been working on The Hobbit (close to done). I attribute the breakthrough to this. I'm going to try 100 Years of Solitude next. *****
  • [$] italki lessons. Despite a feeling of a breakthrough with reading comprehension, the need to speak has been important, and with italki, I can make sure it's from Latin American speakers. Also, by paying something, I feel like i have the right to their effort in correcting me and having some expertise. ****
  • [free] Verbling - helps to practice language and meet people. **
  • [free] Duolingo - helps build vocabulary, but is awfully basic for my purposes. *
  • [free] anki - using a frequency list, this has been a great way to build vocabulary ***
  • [free] FSI tapes - Yes, they're boring. But they work and they have create that feeling of "fluency" when you speak. ****
  • [free] I read an article of news every day either from La Opinion (USA) or El Pais (Spain) ***
  • [$$] I listen to CNN Español sometimes while driving - available on SiriusXM **
  • [$] I watch old Spanish language movies with Spanish subtitles. Recent interesting ones I've watched have been El Crimen del Padre Amaro and Tambien La Lluvia. I think have yet to see one without Gael Garcia Bernal in it. ***
  • [$] Grammar books suck and are overemphasized by most methods, but check out Correct Your Spanish Blunders. It's perfectly crafted to fix the mistakes English speaking learners of Spanish make and I feel it has helped with my "breakthrough" ****
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January 29, 2013
16:40
JWood424
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Hi Jon, I have been following your progress a bit and wanted to offer a little of my experience.  Like you, I read the Harry Potter series in Spanish, and yes, I was really pleased with my ability to figure many words out without using a dictionary.  I considered picking up The Hobbit the other day, only because I have never read it (in English) and thought it might be fun to try before seeing the movie.  Instead, however, I grabbed the 2nd part of The Hunger Games series and have found it pretty smooth sailing.  What grabbed my eye and made me want to write to you was the Cien Años De Soledad, 100 Years of Solitude reference.  Please, don't let me dissuade you, however I have tried to tackle that book in both English and Spanish, and it is no easy task.  I caution you only because you will run into a much more antiquated version of Spanish, which could possibly make your head spin, as it did to me.  A Colombian friend of mine suggested books by Marquez (including 100 Years of Solitude) and I found that he has several short story collections that were slightly easier (but not too easy by any stretch of the imagination.)  In fact, I suggested one of his collections to a Spanish book club I attended and even the native Spanish speakers had a hard time with him!  laugh

If you listen to XM Radio for CNN en español, you probably also receive Cristina Radio (a few stations above or below CNN) which is a lot more conversational Spanish which I found helpful.  ESPN Deportes is good if you like a lot of soccer chat.

There are tons of great Spanish language movies available on Netflix if you want to go that far, or something I like to do which is rather easy is watch my favorite American movies dubbed in Spanish.  The most recent Batman is great in Spanish.

I tried a few paid services as well, like iTalki, and if you enjoy them, go for it, but I decided to learn on my own for free and there are so many resources out there I think given your devotion, you could do it without spending a lot.  For example, I post a blog daily in Spanish and while it's not perfect, it's a great way for me to practice and catch my mistakes.  If you would ever like to exchange messages in Spanish, feel free to drop me a line.  Good luck and I look forward to hearing more on your success!

Speaks: English Learning:  Spanish    Wants to add: Portuguese  If you´re bored and want to follow my progress, check out: http://jaimito424.wordpress.com/ 
January 29, 2013
17:48
Jon
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JWood424 said
***

What grabbed my eye and made me want to write to you was the Cien Años De Soledad, 100 Years of Solitude reference.  Please, don't let me dissuade you, however I have tried to tackle that book in both English and Spanish, and it is no easy task.  I caution you only because you will run into a much more antiquated version of Spanish, which could possibly make your head spin, as it did to me.  A Colombian friend of mine suggested books by Marquez (including 100 Years of Solitude) and I found that he has several short story collections that were slightly easier (but not too easy by any stretch of the imagination.)  In fact, I suggested one of his collections to a Spanish book club I attended and even the native Spanish speakers had a hard time with him!  laugh

***

Great feedback, thanks so much. Here's the thing. As much as I want to be able to communicate when I travel, as much as I love the sense of accomplishment of learning a language, a huge part of the attraction of learning Spanish (to me) is to be able to directly feel the passion of the culture, which lives out loud in a way that is extremely suppressed in ours.

You're certainly correct. I will probably pick up that book and put it down. But, just in case I can push through it, I'd feel like I'm achieving the goal of getting at that unfiltered cultural connection.

Having said all of that, I think you're right though that it's probably way outside the area of where I need to be for language learning purposes and I should consider something a bit lighter, and take a crack at Marquez on a side track.

Fwiw, I ran the ebook of Harry Potter I and The Hobbit through the computer and according to it, the reading level of The Hobbit is actually lower. For some reason, I think this may be because there are a number of rare(r) words in Harry Potter like varita and bruja but they recur again and again. In the Hobbit, there's a lot of things like species of birds that don't show up much in language learning materials and probably every Spanish speaking 1st grader knows them. So, I know know that Jose Cuervo means "Joe Crow." Thanks, J.R.R. All of that is speculation. Anyway, I didn't find The Hobbit *that* much harder, but it repeats itself wayyyy less in sentence structure and vocabulary. 

Maybe I'll just go through LOTR again.

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January 29, 2013
18:39
JWood424
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Jon said

Fwiw, I ran the ebook of Harry Potter I and The Hobbit through the computer and according to it, the reading level of The Hobbit is actually lower. For some reason, I think this may be because there are a number of rare(r) words in Harry Potter like varita and bruja but they recur again and again. In the Hobbit, there's a lot of things like species of birds that don't show up much in language learning materials and probably every Spanish speaking 1st grader knows them. So, I know know that Jose Cuervo means "Joe Crow." Thanks, J.R.R. All of that is speculation. Anyway, I didn't find The Hobbit *that* much harder, but it repeats itself wayyyy less in sentence structure and vocabulary. 

Estoy totalmente de acuerdo contigo.  Tengo todos los siete libros de Harry Potter en español, y para ser honesto, estoy harto de leer la frase frunciendo el entrecejo una y otra vez!  En todo caso, buena suerte con tus libros y si quieres intercambiar mensajes  en español, no dude en escribirme.

Speaks: English Learning:  Spanish    Wants to add: Portuguese  If you´re bored and want to follow my progress, check out: http://jaimito424.wordpress.com/ 
February 5, 2013
22:39
Jon
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So far so good about 10% into Cien Años de Soledad. Not pretending I get every word, but I get it enough. Oddly, the other book I'm reading (The Fellowship of the Ring) is actually more literal in its descriptiveness, so it throws me a bit less. When you think about it, it makes some sense. LOTR occurs in another world, but there are very few illusions or dream-like sequences in it (much less in the book than the movie) whereas CADS is almost surreal.

One thing I would add to enhance your learning experience while reading to learn is READ OUT-LOUD

Huge difference cognitively... or at least to me. 

I also completed the italki challenge and was a little disappointed that the version of SpanishPod we get access to on openlanguage is missing about 80% of the lessons in their library. For what I spent on the italki lessons, I could have just accessed the lessons on OL that I will burn through in about a week—which seem a little light and I am unsure that their concept of what level B2, C1, etc. matches very well with the DELE. 

I liked italki a lot, but I'm not sure I will be spending money there anymore. I'll just look for language exchanges and tell people to please critique the hell out of my grammar.

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February 6, 2013
04:57
Stephanie S
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Great job on your progress. :) I'm from the USA too, and I learned a lot by attending services in an Hispanic church for a couple years. This is no comment on doctrine, but evangelical churches are generally more useful than Catholic ones in this matter, because they are more like communities--people hang around after church to talk. Of course it will depend on the individual church too... One word of warning, the services can be very looong. :)

Another option is to get a part time job where Hispanics are part of the staff. I worked at an Indian restaurant where there were Mexicans in the kitchen, and I could practice Spanish all day if I wanted. It was really fun, especially after being in the dark for months because I didn't understand Punjabi--payback time! ;D Okay, I know that's evil. 

I just read Niebla by Miguel de Unamuno last summer, and I was surprised that I could understand it without a dictionary. (Luckily I didn't have a dictionary on hand, so I was forced to figure out more, which was a good exercise.) The ideas are very interesting and sometimes complex, but the language is simple and clear. I also read some Cervantes when I was in high school, though in that case it was in a bilingual format. I was surprised and pleased to feel excited by the emotions of the story even though it was in a second language and was old. Interestingly, Spanish doesn't seem to have changed very much through the centuries compared with English. I read Poema del Cid in English, but also from a bilingual book, and when I glanced from time to time at the Spanish/Castilian side, I was amazed that I could easily decipher it, although it was written in the 12th century and the spelling was different. 

That being said, if you're trying to learn modern and local Spanish, maybe these old books are not the best. ;) Oh, another good one though, just because it's so good: Pedro Páramo, by Juan Rulfo, a 20th century Mexican author. I also enjoyed the Josefina books published by American Girl--they are excellently translated--but I have no idea if they would be of interest to a guy. ;) Be careful about translated books. Esperanza Rising is one of my absolute favorite books in English, but the style did not translate well into Spanish. You might be interested to read it in English though, just because it is set in immigrant communities of the San Joaquín Valley. A good one to read to your kids, too. :)

 

Stephanie

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February 16, 2013
01:54
Jon
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So, I've started to focus a little on my DELE exam. I purchased El Cronometro B2 and started flipping through it. Tonight I took the November 19, 2005 sample B2 DELE and my results were encouraging for a test 3 months off.

I got a terrible 13.3 points on reading comprehension, leaving me needing 11.2/15 in the writing to pass that block. That's tight, and I don't know a lot about how the writing is scored. So, if I took the test today, I don't think I would be APTO on that part. But I have three months!

I got 13.75/15 on oral comprehension leaving me needing only about 17.75/30 on the oral presentation, or about 60% of the points to be had there. I think I would pull that off now on a good day.

I scraped by on the grammar and vocabulary section getting 71.7% or 14.4/20 points. APTO, but a few bad guesses and I fail.

But what's great is that I will only get better in the next three months. So, I'm setting a good pace. I'm going to work through one phase of El Cronometro and then try again with a sample DELE and see what happens. 

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February 17, 2013
20:38
zuma022
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I seem to get very similar results on the sample exams. Grammar/vocab I just about scrap by, listening comprehension good, reading comprehension just about enough to pass if it was scored on its own.

You got the right attitude though, there are several months left to work on it. I'm not worried about the grammar section, I think that is just a matter of revising, but I still think I lack on vocab. I do wish the reading comprehension would be more based on understanding the text than focused on one word or sentence. Seems like a such a hit or miss situation, but I suppose there is nothing we can do. 

I do need to find out more about the writing too. I'm not sure if they want to see any fancy subjunctive use or if they prefer simple but fewer errors. I've scheduled a Skype lesson with another teacher who apparently has more experience with the exams. I'll be curious what she says.  

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March 11, 2013
17:28
Jon
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So, here we are. Mid-March. DELE exam is about 2 months away. I'm feeling good.

I've had some people grade my writing, and it seems like I'll get almost all the points. I've also had a teacher from Spain drill me on the oral proficiency part and she thought I was more than good enough for B2. I'm doing good enough on the sample tests that if I nail that part, I'll be APTO APTO APTO.

I'm about 1/3 of the way through Cien Años de Soledad. I am loving it a lot. What a great book. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the month so I can move on to some stuff by Vargas Llosa because...

I'M GOING TO PERÚ IN JUNE!

My goals are to see Machu Picchu, have a pisco sour, see a show in a peña, and see a pink dolphin. And to speak basically no English, except to my traveling companion, an old buddy from college who speaks no Spanish. I sent him my Michel Thomas, but... yeah.

Let's see. I've been watching a Spanish language movie about every week. I really enjoyed La Teta Asustada, which honestly influenced by desire to go to Peru, and I think I have a crush on Magaly Solier. (I told my wife I would never cheat on her, but if Magaly wants to become my emotional friend that it would be just too bad for my wife.wink)

I've also tried Verbling's new Spanish classes. Paulino is probably the first Argentine that I haven't had any problems understanding, but it reinforces my desire to self-study or study one-on-one with a native because being in a google hangout full of people who have worse grammar, pronunciation, etc. doesn't help make good habits.

At the moment, I'm feeling confident I'll be able to pass the DELE B2 in May and handle myself in Peru in June. Maybe by then, I'll even feel "fluent." 

I listen to CNN Español. I'm still at the point where I get the gist and miss a lot, but it's getting better. I think I can start to tell where people are from if they have certain accents. I can tell Spaniards, I think, and am getting a sense of South America Southern Cone vs. North, and Carribean, and, Mexico. Also, I think I can tell when people are native English speakers too. That's all interesting, but most of the actual words go in one ear and out the other.

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July 20, 2013
18:05
Jon
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It's been a while since I've posted, but I'm happy to report that I've kept very good discipline with my Spanish learning. Here are some of the highlights:

 

• Read Cien años de soledad

• Travelled to Perú for two weeks

• Sat for the B2 DELE in May in San Francisco

 

I'm not sure whether I passed the DELE B2. I feel like I might have blown it on a few questions and I feel like in general the DELE is based on trick questions. But I've gotten to the point where a lot of the resources for learners aren't all that helpful anymore. There are still a few that are working for me, that make me feel like I'm still making progress. Maybe it's my unique situation here. First, I'm fairly sure that my DELE results notwithstanding, I can read Spanish at a very high level. I read Cien años de soledad and a number of other books and am currently reading Conversación en la cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa, which is every crazy to understand in English with its three or four simultaneous narrative threads, but I'm confident that I'm just as farklempt in English as in Spanish. But I don't speak or listen nearly as well, something that was made plain to me during my time in Perú where I would be stumped by simple questions from time to time. 

So, I notice that the FSI tapes still help. I know all the grammar and vocabulary they do over skeletally, but gaining a reflex for the constructions is helpful. I feel much more confident every hour I spend with these. It soaks in deep.

And while I can always understand whatever is generally being discussed on CNN Español, I don't always get every sentence, but it feels better than it did when I started this post 6 months ago. In fact, for comparison's sake, I picked up Harry Potter 1 again and whizzed through it getting every word, whereas it took serious dedication back then.

Also, where I live helps. Half the kids at the park either speak Spanish or their parents do, so there's always people for me and my son to practice with.

Hoping the DELE worked for me and wanting to get more "fluent" or at least have better flow.

 

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August 2, 2013
23:25
Jon
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Jon said
 

I'm not sure whether I passed the DELE B2. I feel like I might have blown it on a few questions and I feel like in general the DELE is based on trick questions. But I've gotten to the point where a lot of the resources for learners aren't all that helpful anymore. There are still a few that are working for me, that make me feel like I'm still making progress. Maybe it's my unique situation here. First, I'm fairly sure that my DELE results notwithstanding, I can read Spanish at a very high level. I read Cien años de soledad and a number of other books and am currently reading Conversación en la cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa, which is every crazy to understand in English with its three or four simultaneous narrative threads, but I'm confident that I'm just as farklempt in English as in Spanish. But I don't speak or listen nearly as well, something that was made plain to me during my time in Perú where I would be stumped by simple questions from time to time. 

So, I notice that the FSI tapes still help. I know all the grammar and vocabulary they do over skeletally, but gaining a reflex for the constructions is helpful. I feel much more confident every hour I spend with these. It soaks in deep.

And while I can always understand whatever is generally being discussed on CNN Español, I don't always get every sentence, but it feels better than it did when I started this post 6 months ago. In fact, for comparison's sake, I picked up Harry Potter 1 again and whizzed through it getting every word, whereas it took serious dedication back then.

Also, where I live helps. Half the kids at the park either speak Spanish or their parents do, so there's always people for me and my son to practice with.

Hoping the DELE worked for me and wanting to get more "fluent" or at least have better flow.

 

That turned out to be a pretty good analysis. I did not pass the DELE, but I did pass everything except the listening comprehension part, and I might have made it back if I had done better during the oral part. But that was over 2 months ago, and I know I've improved dramatically in oral/aural aspects of the language as I can now follow CNN Español pretty well and I speak Spanish to my son all day now. I know you don't pass unless you pass all three parts, but I'm pleased that I did as well as I did and I'm pleased that I at least knew what went wrong in advance. I didn't take the wrong test; I just didn't sufficiently prepare the oral part.

So, the test verified that in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary I am (at least) at the B2 level, but I have/had a ways to go on speaking. Next May, I'll sit for the C1 exam. I have an easier workload this coming year and should be able to make the leaps I need to in order to cross that threshold by then.

Since I'm not a student and I don't need the DELE professionally, it was more of a personal benchmark, and one that I hope to come back to.

I will again tout the FSI/Platiquemos tapes. Yes, they are boring. Yes, their dialog is increasingly irrelevant the more time goes on, especially if you aren't a diplomat visiting upper class Latin American landowners. But the technique really does increase your "fluency" i.e. your ability to spontaneously speak and understand the spoken language. I'm pretty sure if I go through the last three levels again thoroughly before next May, I'll be up for C1.

So, I didn't get fluent in three months or even six, and I wasn't starting from scratch. But for someone who had only a year of high school Spanish a long time ago, being on the cusp of B2 after a few months of studying is a result I'm happy with and being able to read great works of literature in their original is a lifetime accomplishment.

I'll plunge ahead and maybe attend a language school in Ensenada in the winter.

 

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