So this week marks two months right on the dot(60 days or so) and I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s post to what has helped my Spanish language skills and what I need to work on.
What has helped
Meeting people before coming here and meeting more people through the internet
Before I came here, I knew more or less 10 people. Those are the people who I’ve been able to practice my Spanish with and who I’ve learned the most from. It’s seems easier to meet people on the internet or at an event than at the university(opposite of what I expected).
Watching movies, TV shows, and listening to the radio in Spanish
Even after practicing with an Argentinian for eight months before arriving here, I still have had trouble in these first two months with listening and understanding everyone that speaks to me. However, I’ve watched a few Argentine movies and a few episodes of a TV show called Solamente Vos, which have both helped A LOT. I also try and listen to the radio every day and either listen to music or talk shows. Both also have helped a lot.
Dedicating one day a week to English
I think before I came here I was expecting everything to immediately translate/change into Spanish. Obviously, that’s not the case! My parents and friends still speak to me in English, my Facebook feed is still mostly English, etc. etc. But, I’ve empirically learned that if I dedicate one day to English-phone calls to friends and family, writing on my blog, reading in English-it’s easier for me to focus on and think in Spanish.
Living with a host family as oppose to by myself
I hadn’t thought much about this before hand but I’m really glad I found a family to rent a room from off Craigslist. I am forced to speak Spanish whenever I’m at home which has had positive effects on my speaking skills.
Trying to only speak in Spanish with my American friends
This has been a challenge since I’ve been here. It’s hard because when I’m with a group of Americans, the majority of the time I’m speaking English. What has helped though is speaking to any Americans I meet in Spanish and giving off the vibe that, “Hey, I only want to speak in Spanish.” Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t but at least trying to do it has helped me improve my language skills.
What I need to work on
A system for learning new words and phrases
I’m still trying to find a system that will serve me best to learn new words and phrases. Everyday, there is a word that I don’t know in Spanish but need during a conversation. The one idea I came up with just recently is to write down the words that I want to know in Spanish in my journal before I go to bed and then look them up the next night and study them before I write my next journal entry. I don’t know if it will work but I’m willing to give it a shot.
Speaking more with locals
Like I mentioned above, it’s easiest to meet Argentinians on the internet for me. I’ve been searching for more events such as concerts or festivals and meetups to meet more people but I have yet to actually go. I need more practice with natives because it’s the best way to improve my speaking skills.
Reading and pronunciation
I should be reading a little bit everyday because it’s a great exercise for learning new vocabulary and phrases and recognizing grammar structures. I also need to work on my pronunciation because I still have difficulty with some sounds in particular.
Of course there are other aspects I need to work on regarding my Spanish but these are the ones I believe I should focus on to achieve fluency the fastest. If you have any tips or thoughts, feel free to share them! 🙂
P.S.- For fun and to see my progress with the language, I’ve recorded videos of me speaking in Spanish and plan to record more throughout the remainder of my study abroad.
20 weeks ago- http://youtu.be/9WXYFaCdgHc
8 weeks ago- http://youtu.be/uGHpFKGajVk
5 weeks ago- http://youtu.be/CVHvfydx5CA