2019 has been off to a good start. I decided to start the year with one of the most practical of my goals: Learning Spanish. It consisted of the straight-forward resolutions of taking classes, doing my homework, and making some additional efforts on a daily basis. Executing these resolutions take quite a chunk of time out of my schedule on a weekly basis. Nevertheless, it was incredibly easy to start working on this goal.
Already in December of last year, I researched Spanish schools here on Gran Canaria. Based on great reviews, I signed up for classes at Be Canary School, located in the south of the island, relatively close to where I live. Be Canary School offers courses of various levels of intensity. However, since I’m living here permanently, I chose the non-intensive course, consisting of two (2-hour) classes a week in a group with a maximum of ten students. Including a discount for residents, this course costs €123,25 for four weeks.
The classes exceeded my expectations — they are so much fun! Our teacher is a super friendly girl my age. And the rest of the group is an interesting mix of students with different nationalities, backgrounds and professions. The funny thing is that there’s only one student who’s on the island for a shorter period of time than me (three months). Everyone else has been putting off learning Spanish even longer than I have!
The first class, the teacher immediately taught us some helpful questions. For example, ‘¿cómo se dice [palabra] en español?‘, which means, ‘how do you say [word] in Spanish?’. That way, all classes can be entirely in Spanish. New information is presented through a PowerPoint presentation. After that, we practice speaking or play a game that fits the new information. When we were learning the numbers from 1 to 100, for instance, we played Bingo. During the first four weeks, I didn’t learn many new things. But repeating everything I already knew (and confirming my knowledge as correct) significantly increased my confidence to speak. I now feel like I have a solid basis of knowledge to fall back on, which is worth a lot to me.
Even though it’s quite a lot of money for me, it was an easy decision to continue learning Spanish at Be Canary School in February. Since the beginning of the month, we have a new teacher. Again, she’s a super friendly girl (this time slightly younger than me). And it’s obvious all teachers try to maintain a similar teaching style, which is nice. Slowly but surely, new-to-me material is introduced, always step by step. For example, we’ve only just learned one of the many differences between ser and estar (both mean ‘to be’, but they are used in different situations).
All the topics discussed in class, come with exercises to do at home. These exercises are not obligatory though. And the answers are provided as well, so we don’t discuss these in class (unless someone has a question about them). Since there was not much new information for me in January, I skipped most of the exercises. Instead, I focused on typing up and organizing my class notes. Obviously, the classes do provide lots of new words for my daily words lists, so I’ve created another spreadsheet for February (linked below).
It didn’t always work out to do the homework (aka processing my notes) directly after class. Since I loose quite a lot of work time to the classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, I find the beginning of my weeks quite busy. However, I did all my homework before the next class, so usually on Tuesday and on the weekend. Since I expect to need more of the homework exercises in February, I hope I will keep that up. This may require some work schedule rearrangements.
I’m very happy (and proud!) to announce that I’ve kept my daily habit to learn ten new words a day. (In case you missed it, I wrote a blogpost about the effectiveness of daily habits in combination with stretch goals and smart goals). I created a spreadsheet for January, based on high frequency words in Spanish, and started new ones for February and March based on the words learned in class. You can read more about this daily habit in this blogpost, where I also included pdf-downloads of my spreadsheets for January and February. I’ll continue to update that post throughout the year. Because I’m planning on learning Spanish words daily until December, oh yes.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t wanna improve myself all the freakin’ time. Since learning ten words a day turned out to be so easy, fun, and helpful, I decided to throw a new Daily Habit in the mix from February onwards. That new habit is called Duolingo. You’ve probably heard of this famous language learning app. For some reason, I’ve always been very resistent to use apps for these kinds of things, but Duolingo honestly is a godsent. I set an easy daily goal for myself, so it takes me only a couple of minutes to complete some exercises. And now I do that daily too!
If you’re learning Spanish as well (or another language), I’m curious to hear how you’re progressing?
Photo: San Fernando (left) and Playa del Inglès (right), Gran Canaria, España