This is an update to Elizabeth’s Spanish in 3 months mission.
In my last article, I announced the start of my (gulp) three-month mission to learn Spanish. I talked about why I’m learning Spanish. And I shared some of my favorite tools.
Today, I’m going to share about my first week learning Spanish. My ups. My downs. My mud in the face turn arounds.
Day 1: What Have I Done?! I Realized that I Hate Spanish
Learning Spanish is not all colored pencils, glitter bombs and unicorns.
On the first official day of learning Spanish, something terrible happened. I realized that I hate Spanish. This came as an unwelcome surprise. You see, I had been daydreaming about learning Spanish for months.
After my first italki tutor session, I had a headache. So, I decided to finish the day with easy listening. I turned on a podcast that was in English but talked about Spanish. The theme song hurt my ears. And when the host spoke a few words in Spanish, I disliked his voice.
I know what you’re thinking. Just change the podcast. Well, I did. And the same thing happened. Hated the theme song. Disliked the voice.
A day later, I recorded myself speaking in Spanish to practice pronunciation. That’s when I knew I was in trouble. Even my voice sounded horrible to me in Spanish.
Panic set in. I’ve already committed publicly that I’m going to learn this new language. Will I spend three months nauseated by the sound of my own voice?
My brain was having a hard time getting accustomed to the language. So, I created a habit loop to help me through the first week. I talk about how I did that in this video.
After about a week of easing myself into it, I started to enjoy the sound of Spanish again. Peace was restored to my three-month mission.
To be fair, I still like the sound of French more than Spanish. That’s because French has a comfortable seat at the table in my mind. Spanish is still squeezing into my neural space. I imagine it sitting on a lopsided chair that needs a wad of napkins under one leg to make it stable.
The upside to this is that French has gone from the dreaded intermediate stage to the beloved intermediate stage. I’m relieved to speak in French now. It’s not easier but it sure feels like it.
Here’s the Kickoff Video to My Spanish Adventure
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of my three-month Spanish mission.
Here’s my starter video. This will give you an idea of how little I know. Okay, so I admit it. I’m totally hamming it up for day 0. I couldn’t help myself. If I didn’t get silly, the video would be less than 10 seconds long as the size of my vocabulary is microscopic.
How I Am Fitting Spanish into My Daily Routine
There’s one question that all my friends who want to learn a language are asking. How do you add more hours to your day?
Well, I don’t.
But I do use hidden time. That’s time for learning Spanish I didn’t know I had until I searched for it. Here are four “hidden pockets” of time I found for language learning:
1. I Wake Up Early for Spanish Lessons
I have a few online Spanish tutors, and I schedule my online Spanish lessons shortly after waking. Being a morning glory, I’ve always enjoyed my quiet routine before the house wakes up. Meditation. A big of yoga. Journaling. And now, language learning.
My computer boots up while I’m brushing my teeth. I actually don’t prep much for my lessons. To be honest, I rarely prepare at all. It’s better to have a gameplan. But if I have to be super organized about my lessons, it stresses me out.
I show up and go with the flow.
It helps that I hire teachers that are organized and flexible. I also use share documents that my Spanish Uncovered course provides as an outline for the lessons. Those notes are perfect for someone like me who doesn’t want to rehash with the tutor what I’ve covered this week.
Spending a few minutes catching up with my Fi3M Challenge buds gives me a healthy dose of “atta girl” to keep me pumped. I glance at what everyone else is doing on the daily check-in area of our online community.
This helps me feel like I’m part of a winning team. It also gives me ideas on new tools I could try. I’ll share a few of my personal check-ins a bit later.
2. I Listen to Spanish While Exercising
Full disclosure here. I often don’t crave a nice long walk. I’m happy once my sneakers are tied and my feet are out the door. But I have trouble tearing myself away from other important tasks.
Adding language learning to my exercise makes me feel like the activity is super-charged. I can keep my body and my brain healthy at the same time. I usually listen to Spanish stories on my phone using LingQ.
3. I Get Spanish “Brain Candy” While Doing Chores
My husband does breakfast preparation as he is the official tea master of our home. I happily enjoy my tea in exchange for dishwashing duty. Before learning a language, I had no idea how much time I spent scrubbing pots.
Now, I pop in earbuds and listen to an audiobook on my phone. Again, I use LingQ for this because it records the amount of time I listen each week. I switch between French and Spanish depending on my mood. Listening to French is my reward for the hard work my brain needs to do with Spanish.
4. I Study Spanish on Duolingo While Standing in Line
Whenever I’m on hold or standing in line somewhere, I will do a quick lesson on Duolingo. It’s a free app that I keep on my phone. I learn basic vocabulary and sentence structure with this app which helps me use some of that hidden time I mentioned. You can also use SpanishPod101 on your phone.
I’m Also Using a Bullet Journal to Keep my Spanish Learning on Track
A bullet journal is the “everything bagel” of agendas. I’m very preteen in my bullet journal. I use colorful stickers when I hit my weekly language learning goals.
Give me a set of colored pencils, some thick paper and I’m ready to roll.
For the Fi3M Challenge, I’ve made a colorful list of ten ways I’d like to make contact with Spanish each week. Each day, I look to see what I can do next during a five-minute gap of time between appointments or work tasks. Here are my minimum goals.
|Task||Minimum Time per Session||Best Day||How Many Times per Week|
|Read in Spanish with LingQ||5 minutes||Every night||3x|
|Spanish Uncovered Course||15 minutes||Monday, Thursday, Friday||3x|
|Instagram in Spanish||10 minutes for one post||Monday||1x|
|Record Myself Speaking||5 minutes||Tuesday||1x|
|Listen to Spanish with LingQ||10 minutes||Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday||3x|
|Speaking Practice with italki Lesson||90-120 minutes||Monday, Thursday, Friday||2-3x|
|Coffee Break Spanish||15 minutes||Tuesday||1x|
|Television in Spanish||100 minutes||Wednesday, Saturday||1-4x depending on show|
|Add1 Boost||15 minutes||Thursday||1x|
From years of checking off my goals in other areas of my life, my brain feels a sense of accomplishment each time I put a little tick in one of my boxes. Once I fulfill my weekly goal for a particular task, I draw a purple star in the box.
Why purple? Because studies have shown that the color violet keeps synapses pliable in adults age 45 to 60. Just kidding. I use purple because it’s pretty.
And To Avoid Burnout, I Build on Small Successes
It’s not always the fastest way. But aiming low works for me when I have a new project. You’ll notice in my list of tools that most of my sessions are between five to 15 minutes long.
That’s because I don’t always want to study. And if I have an hour project glaring at me, it’s likely I will ignore it. Yet, five minutes of a mildly annoying task is something I can manage because I know there’s a reward at the end. That’s right. My pretty purple star!
And this little trick gets me hours of study time that I didn’t even know I could do. For example, I’ll start the Spanish Uncovered course with a 15-minute goal. Before you know it, 30 minutes have gone by because I ended up having fun with the exercises.
My Thoughts on the Spanish Resources I’m Using
I talked about my tools in depth in my last article. Here are a few that are standing out thus far.
- Fi3M Challenge is my favorite tool by far. The community keeps me on track. My Fi3M Challenge buds help pick me up when I’m feeling low. My dream team teaches me new words every week. The Fi3M Challenge Spanish course is helping me prioritize what I want to learn to say. I even found a spectacular tutor in the online forum.
- LingQ makes listening comprehension easy to practice. One downside, I am now the world’s loudest dishwasher because I use earbuds. I am not kidding. It’s scary loud. Another listening comprehension option is Innovative Languages. I use FrenchPod101 a great deal when I’m studying my other language, French.
- Spanish Uncovered is intense but the payoff is big. I’m two chapters into the story. Who knew I would enjoy grammar exercises? I find myself doing grammar to relax at night. Strange but true.
- italki I upped my lessons to two or three per week. Why? Spanish lessons are way less expensive than French lessons. Because of this, I have a little extra room in my budget. I have three tutors that I work with regularly. I speak with Emanuel two times per week and Fabian once per week. Frank is my substitute tutor when the other two are not available.
What Has Surprised Me in My First Week of Learning Spanish?
During my first week of learning Spanish, I’ve noticed a few personal insights that I thought I’d share with you.
- My preferences for TV shows are changing. Before language learning, nature documentaries were my favorite vegetable-inducing programs. However, there’s too much dialogue to hold my interest as a beginner Spanish student. Imagine my shock when I discovered that action shows are my go-to in my target language. Why? Because the plot is easy to follow and there’s less talking. Thanks, Umbrella Academy!
- Give me a good book in my native language and I’m happy for hours. Give me a good book in Spanish and I can only do a few minutes of reading at a time. Short bursts of my target language works better for me than marathon sessions.
- I have trouble reading something while listening. I do that in very short bursts, too. Maybe only two minutes per day of listening while reading but every little bit counts.
- I didn't realize how much moving my body while listening helps me. My concentration floats in and out. But the resistance is way less.
- I’m older. Hopefully a bit wiser. I’ve experienced massive amounts of meditation in the past decade. And yet, I’m still impatient. Thank goodness my meditation practice includes self-compassion, huh?
That’s It for Now! More Spanish Updates from Me Very Soon
That’s about it for my first week of Spanish. Thanks for joining me in the recap. I hope you found this article helpful.
Maybe you’re planning on trying some of these tools. Maybe you have had similar road bumps in your journey. Let us know in the comments! I want to know what you’re up to.
In my next post, I’ll share about the first 30 days of my Spanish mission. The honeymoon is over, friends! Laundry and dusting need to be done.
I’ll also be giving you a sneak peek at my progress with a Day 30 video. You don’t want to miss all the riveting thinking sounds I make. My thrilling search for words on the ceiling is equally impressive.
Wishing each and everyone one of you happy language learning!
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.