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Fluent in 3 Months team member Elizabeth is learning Spanish from scratch. This is her first ever three month mission.
In this article, she’s sharing her motivation to learn Spanish and her detailed plan. Take it away, Elizabeth.
Yes, I’m Fluent in “Charades”. But Here’s Why I Really Want to Speak Spanish
About a year ago, I was grocery shopping in our neighborhood store. The woman working in the produce section spoke with a beautiful Mexican accent. So, I cheated on my French language skills for five minutes and said the only Spanish phrase I knew at the time, ¿Comó está usted? which means “How are you?”
The woman excitedly started talking to me in Spanish. She told me that she liked the color of my scarf. She asked me if I wanted to sample a pear.
I understood all this because we were both fluent in charades. I told her in English that I love her language but I don’t know it yet.
She smiled and began to walk away. It was a rainy day in December. I realized that I knew how to say, “Merry Christmas!” in Spanish. !Feliz navidad! I said as I put a few apples into my cart.
The woman spun around and ran up to me with arms open. I was stunned by the embrace she gave me. It was a sweet surprise to both of us. We each walked away with a little joy tucked into our pockets.
That was the moment at which I realized I’ve got to learn Spanish.
And now I’m planning to do it in just three months…
Spanish in 3 Months — Really? And Who Are You, Elizabeth?!
I’m relatively new to the online language learning universe, and I started as a writer for Fluent in 3 Months earlier this year.
I remember on Fi3M reading about Holly’s three-month mission to learn Portuguese. I was an itty bitty baby learner then. It’s kinda trippy to be writing an article about language learning on the blog that taught me how to learn languages.
Up until two years ago, I only spoke one language. I didn’t know much about the Internet either. Before finding Fi3M, I thought blogs were online diaries.
Then I found Benny Lewis, founder of Fi3M. This Irish dude was certain that a language learning drop-out like me could learn a language. And you know what? He was right.
My claim to fame is that I attempted (and failed!) to learn a foreign language ten times before finally figuring out how to do it. I’ve now spent two years learning French, using the strategies I picked up from Fi3M, and I’m at a solid intermediate level.
My new goal is to learn Spanish. I’m aiming to have a 15-minute conversation in Spanish after three months of learning.
I live in Southern California where Spanish is a prominent spoken language. Many of my neighbors are bilingual Spanish and English speakers. I’d like to connect with members of my community in a deeper way.
I also feel a little lonely with my French here. The last time I looked only 1% of the population in my area speaks French. Whereas with Spanish, it’s everywhere.
Let me tell you more about my plans…
How I Learned French (The Slow Way)
When I finally committed to learning French, I was a frightened little kitten. Especially when it came to time commitment. A busy adult with a grown-up life. Job, house, taxes. The whole nine yards. So, I committed to five minutes of study a day with one italki lesson per week.
It was…Very. Slow. Going. But it created a habit.
After many mutations, my language learning found a way to fit into my life. I added a little reading. I subtracted flashcards. (Still hate them.) I changed my tools every 12 weeks.
And voilà! I now speak French.
Not like a native. Nowhere near C2 level which is native-like fluency. But I can hold a conversation about lots of interesting topics. I have made lovely friends who are native French speakers. And I’ve read 27 books in French.
No, they can’t take that away from me.
All this to tell you that I am a native English speaker who is elated and surprised to be speaking French at an intermediate level. And as a gift to myself, I’m going to learn Spanish. I have a solid two years of French under my belt. I’m ready to spice things up with another language.
My Spanish Mission: Conversational Spanish in 90 Days!
This time, I’m not messing around. I’m going to learn Spanish by participating in the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge. This is a three-month online course that promises students they’ll have a 15-minute conversation in their target language after just 90 days.
I did my first Fluent in 3 Months Challenge a few months ago to strengthen my French. So, I have the lay of the land. And I’ve seen for myself other people learning a new language from scratch in 90 days with the Fi3M Challenge. So I know it’s possible. What’s more, some of my friends from the last Challenge are taking this one with me. Bonus!
Working with the Fi3M Challenge will be miles apart from when I first started learning French. No more wondering if I’m doing it right. I’ve got a group of experienced language learners in my corner. And I have the same goal as everyone else in the Challenge which makes for some enlightening conversations.
What’s My Level of Spanish Currently?
Nada. Zero. Zip.
Okay, I do know that nada is Spanish. So, technically not nada but I have no idea how to say nearly nothing in Spanish. So, nada it is!
I’ll post a Day 0 video in my first update article as I plan on writing an article for Day 0, Day 30, Day 60 and Day 90. Oh my goodness! The pressure is on.
Planning for Success: Goal, Accountability, Action
How exactly am I planning for success? I’m starting with a solid goal. At the end of 90 days, my plan is to have a 15-minute conversation with a native speaker.
I will be using these articles and my Fi3M Challenge community to help me with accountability. The Fi3M Challenge provides me with a number of tools for tracking my progress. The community will help me stay the course.
Action is the third essential ingredient. I have committed to practice Spanish a minimum of 45 minutes a day, five times a week. My French time will be swapped out for Spanish for three months. I plan on using French for relaxing as I’m at the enjoyable intermediate paradise now.
By the way, I’m officially reclaiming the intermediate phase as delightful. Too much time is wasted striving to get out of it. I’m going to start savoring it.
The Tools I’ll Be Using to Learn Spanish
1. The Fluent in 3 Months Challenge — The Method I’ll Use to Speak Spanish in 90 Days
My main tool for learning Spanish will be The Fluent in 3 Months Challenge. This is a 90-day course that comes with a promise that I’ll have a 15-minute conversation in Spanish at the end of it.
Now I should say that the Fi3M Challenge isn’t a traditional Spanish course. It’s a method for rapid language learning that shows you, step-by-step, how to learn a new language in 90 days. It’s incredibly effective, but you do have to put the work in!
There are five Spanish modules included as part of Fi3M Challenge, to get you up to speed fast. But you’re also recommended other tools to use, too — so I’ve shared what else I’m using below.
2. LingQ — for Reading Stories in Spanish
At least three days a week, I will read in Spanish using LingQ. I usually read books in French every night using this application. So, it will be easy to add Spanish to this developed habit. This is the fastest way for me to learn vocabulary.
I will start with short beginner stories but quickly move onto books. You see, I’m not a fan of short stories in my native language. So why would I like them in my target language?
Except for Tolstoy and J.D. Salinger. Those two knew how to write captivating short stories.
The Linguist by Steve Kaufman is available in audio and text on LingQ. That will be my first book in Spanish as I already read it in French. So, I’m familiar with the text.
3. Instagram — I’ll be Writing One Instagram Post per Week
I created an Instagram account for learning Spanish and will post once per week in my target language. I did this for French with excellent results.
I will also comment on one or two posts that others write in Spanish.
4. Spanish Uncovered — For Learning the Basics
To learn Spanish grammar, I’ll be using Spanish Uncovered by Olly Richards, I will work through this beginner’s Spanish course at least three times per week. And I’ll be writing a review of this course at the end of the 90 days!
5. YouTube — Recording Myself Speaking Spanish
I hate doing this one. I’m not of the YouTube generation. I live in mortal fear that my laptop will be stolen. My bedhead recordings will get leaked to the public.
Videos of me looking like an extra on The Walking Dead will go viral. Children will recognize me while I’m walking in town. They’ll cling to their mothers screaming, “Mommy! Mommy! The YouTube zombie is here. Save me!”
Harsh lighting plus puffy morning eyes can get scary.
Seriously though, making videos is hard. Especially in another language. But it’s required as part of the Fi3M Challenge, and it’s one of the reasons the Challenge is so effective.
The practice of recording myself speaking helps move passive vocabulary to the speech centers in my brain. Yes, it is as painful as it sounds. But necessary.
Also, I’ve made my husband promise to melt my laptop into tiny buttons to save my afterlife pride. Reuse and recycle, people!
6. More LingQ! This Time for Listening to Spanish
Using LingQ again, I will listen to short beginner conversations and an audiobook in Spanish. Most of my listening will take place while washing the dishes, driving, walking around the neighborhood and doing laundry.
This is a habit I created several months ago to improve my French hearing comprehension. The results amazed me. Such little effort involved!
7. italki — for Speaking Spanish in Real Conversations
With italki teachers, I plan on speaking 90 minutes per week. That could be three half-hour sessions per week. Or I might get wild and crazy with two 45-minute lessons per week.
I will ask my teacher to only speak Spanish to me. This is super uncomfortable at first. But I’ve found it gives me the best results in the shortest amount of time.
I will only be using tutors this time, not language exchange partners. I have three language exchange partners in French. That’s how I will keep my French in working order during this mission.
8. Duolingo — For Learning New Spanish Vocab
The green owl was my main squeeze during the first month of learning French. It’s easy for days when I’m tired. It’s gamified for days when I’m feeling stubbornly adolescent. It takes less than five minutes when I need a quick win.
9. Coffee Break Spanish — For When I Need a Break!
Mark Pendleton, the host of Coffee Break, was my buddy during my French journey. I’m grateful to have him along for my Spanish escapade as well. Because this podcast is mostly in English, I can use it on days when Spanish feels too overwhelming and I need a break.
10. Television — at Least 100 Minutes of Spanish TV per Week
This is an easy one for me as my TV time is in French. I’ll swap out my French watching with Spanish. It’s back to the basics for me.
I will be watching things on Netflix with Spanish dubbing and Spanish subtitles until I get a feel for the language. I use this link to find Netflix shows that come in my target language.
For now, I will be rewatching shows that I’ve seen in French because it will be easier to follow and learn new words. Starting with The Good Place and Grace and Frankie.
I like shows that have an easy plot, and that I’ve watched before. I like shows that have a lot of episodes and that don’t curse a lot. I have quite a mouth on me if I stub my toe, so I have no need for more swear words in another language.
Am I Bad at Math?
If you added up my tools, you’ll notice that they amount to over 300 minutes per week. However, my Fi3M Challenge commitment is 225 minutes per week. So what gives?
My Fi3M Challenge commitment is the bare minimum. If I do that, I’m happy.
My tools are a roadmap of different aspects of the language I’d like to visit each week. I usually hit these goals because the sessions are short. I stack my session onto other habits.
For example, I will listen to Coffee Break Spanish while exercising.
To be honest, I have a solid routine in place. So, the time commitment is easy for me to achieve. Left to my own devices, I would only do the things I love and skip the things I need. That’s where the tools keep my learning balanced.
That’s It For Now! More Spanish Updates from Me Very Soon
That’s about it for my planning stage. I hope you found this article helpful. Maybe you’re planning on trying some of these tools. Maybe you have a few that you just love. Let us know in the comments! After all, sharing is caring.
In my next post, I’ll share my budding relationship with Spanish. Ahhh, my Spanish honeymoon! I sure hope it doesn’t rain.
I’ll also be giving you a sneak peek at how little I know in Spanish with my Day 0 video. Trust me. It’ll be short.
I wouldn’t mind some cyber-support. Cheer me on in the comments. And let me know what language you want to learn. Who knows! You might be the next person writing a three-month mission article.
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.