Resumé: its now 2 years and a week since I started learning Spanish and it isn’t getting easier or harder. It feels like swimming in the sea, if you try to go too fast it’s dangerous because you get tired and out of breath, plodding along is safest, and I can’t risk stopping because there isn’t anything solid to hold on to yet.
I have some new resources to share:
Notes in Spanish is very good www.notesinspanish.com , they offer three levels; beginner, intermediate and advanced. If you are a complete beginner the intro level is probably a bit advanced although it would augment any other course that you might be doing, there are some lovely colloquial phrases that will raise eyebrows from your Spanish friends. Intermediate is just about possible for me to follow and I haven’t yet dipped into Advanced.
The podcasts are about 20-25 minutes long and are free to download. If you want the transcripts and grammar exercises you have to pay a small amount. There are also some YouTube clips (which is where I originally found Ben and Marina, the presenters), just search for "Notes in Spanish".
Next resource is www.meetup.com ; I got in touch with a local group (25 miles away) who meet monthly and I intend to be a regular attendee next year. Here is the link to the group if you are near Kent, UK www.meetup.com/Kent-Spanish-Language-and-Latin-American-culture. This group meet socially to speak in Spanish and share resources. The local organiser Viviana told me about a movie on YouTube, called "Ilona llega con la lluvia" and it even has subtitles, I liked it but didn’t expect the ending …
Here is my Spanish "diet", I choose a little from each group every day. Watch some TV, online or satellite. Read some El Pais, online and free. Read some Spanish literature on the Kindle. Self test on vocabulary. Listen to some Spanish music, YouTube has huge selection. If I hear a good phrase or a new word I write it down and look for it later in the dictionary – today’s word was "acudir". I am not talking about hours of study. Five minutes on each is painless and it keeps the stuff dripping in to the brain.
My Adult Ed course is going well, this week it was cancelled because of bad weather. Full marks to Juliette Negri who made sure I was called early enough to tell me the centre was closed. I missed one when I was in Barcelona but otherwise I’ve been to every class. The teacher is great; she makes us work for the full 90 minutes and English is forbidden in the classroom. I am still suffering from what I see as the major weakness of OU – lack of conversational practice. I can do the written work and the reading comfortably but when it comes to speaking without prompt or preparation I struggle. If only I could have Michel Thomas in my ear saying "how do you say – ‘is it ready for me because I need it tomorrow?’"
I feel that French has really slipped although I can still read and understand it without too much trouble, in conversation I lapse into some sort of hybrid language that only makes sense to me. I have a notion to try the 80/20 principle so that my "language time" divides into 80% Spanish and 20% French – probably a project for 2011.
I’m still waiting for my OU results, L140 seems like a long time ago. They are so slow at getting results back. How long does it take to mark an essay and an oral exam?