Natalie’s Spanish Learning Update: How I started.

Here is an update of how and why I am learning spanish in Tokyo.

Well, strangely enough, upon relocating to Tokyo. Sam and I meet a lot of Latinos living in here through our first friendship network. I jumped at the opportunity with my GCSE C grade level Spanish and never looked back. I’m not fluent, nor can I barely string sentences together. So I would say I am a false beginner since I have learned it before but, not in the last 5 years. A big plus with learning Spanish, if you can already speak English fairly well is that about 35% of the language is derived from Latin, which is profoundly prevalent in both English and Spanish. So, there you go, you know just about a third of the language with out even trying.

So, how am I going about learning? Using these 3 components: vocab building, grammar practice and speaking to a local.

Vocabulary crunching

When I start learning a language, the very first thing I do is watch a movie or youtube video in that target language. This is to get a feel of how the language sounds. I do this a few times a week depending on what I feel like watching.

Then I try and do a heavy dose of Memrise for about an hour a day. It’s difficult at first but once you’ve been doing it for a week you get used to. The whole idea is help your brain remember old vocabulary and expose yourself to new vocabulary at the same time. The trick is to keep doing it, you will see how far you have come after a while once you look back. I try to make sure I pick a course that introduces new vocab along with a sentence in how to use it. My plan is to later graduate to Anki as it has a lot more resources for longer and more elaborate sentence structures available. These are the building blocks of a language and the next step will be sticking them together.

Grammar Practice

To practice grammar I got through a grammar book as fast as possible. If one grammar point is pretty straight forward for me I don’t spend to long on it. I don’t bother with lists and lists of er,ar,ir and other verb conjugations. I heavily rely on listening practice. That way, once you’ve heard something so many times you will be able to self-correct, as when it comes to speaking Spanish you know you are saying it wrong because it doesn’t sound right. Then you can look up the answers later in a grammar book or through your notes.

The book I am using at the moment Spanish Made Simple as it’s geared towards getting you speaking and reading Spanish straight away. I go through this book at least once a week with a friend (who is a native Spanish speaker). But, there are tons of resources available online. I bought this book so it woulf be a talking point with my language teacher but I really prefer online stuff as I am a cheapo as well as cleanliness nazi. So, for online, I am using Spanishpod101.com as it has all elements of what you would expect from a language course in one place. As I hate spending hours trolling through the internet just to find one thing.

Speaking to a local

I am not currently living in Spanish speaking country, but I do have the advantage of being able to speak to a native speaker at my fingertips. I meet up with my friend once a week over coffee ( I treat her) and we go through the grammar book I mentioned before “Spanish Made Simple”. The main importance in this is to practice my reading and pronunciation, as my pronunciation is pretty atrocious. She can only understand a few English words so it really forces me to just rely on Spanish with her. Right now, I am on basic commuication level, enough so that we can arrange a time to meet up and talk about our week.

Down time

In my down time, I try and make sentences using the new grammar I’ve learned in my book and the new vocabulary I got from memrise or anki. This is also the time I try and make up sentence I am going to actually use, and then write it down ready to ask my friend the following week.

Well, this is what I am doing so far for my Spanish learning experience in Japan. I hope it helps and I will try and do regular updates accompanied with a video to actually prove my progress.

All the best on your language learning endeavors!

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