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Guess what time it is? It is time for us to give you an update on what we have been doing to improve Speaking Spanish!
Remember our initial post, back at the end of November, with the goal of making it to Pueblo Español? Oh and the video update of us speaking Spanish at the end of February? Well, here we are at the end of May and we figured you were due another update of our progress. Yes, there is another video. As much as we don’t like speaking Spanish on video, it kind of needs to be done. Thanks to all of you for asking questions and holding us accountable.
Why Are We Doing This?
Keep in mind we are trying to give you regular updates of our progress with speaking more Spanish, but every month is tough to do. Here is the info from our initial post, back at the end of November, stating our goals and what the heck happened to us speaking Spanish. Just as a reminder, we are trying to be good enough to attend a week-long intensive Spanish course, with Pueblo Español. It isn’t just a few hours a day either, it is a full week Spanish immersion program for adults.
What Have We Done So Far?
Our update in January was a written update and told you what our plans for improving our Spanish. At the end of February we provided a video update of us speaking Spanish. Now we are providing another update at the end of May. I know, you are thinking “What the heck happened to March and April?”, keep on reading!
In a nutshell, we attended a Spanish course for residents twice a week and each class was 55 minutes long. We started the course mid-January and I attended for about 5 weeks, whereas Alan continued through the end of April. Why the difference in attendance?
Well to be honest with you when Alan and I are in Spanish class together, my chatty self doesn’t give him room to speak and grow. I don’t mind competing for speaking Spanish time with the other students, but I think he does better when I am not there. Plus we have different learning styles, Alan is great with studying grammar and I like to just blurt out what’s on my mind (correctly or incorrectly).
This was a unique trial experience provided to us by Pueblo Español in February, (2 times a week for 4 weeks). The TPR method uses storytelling to teach a foreign language, where the teachers and students create a story and build on it with each session.
We had great fun creating the characters. Like the couple Marco, a tall rabbit, and Marca the duck. They went on vacation together and made friends with a crocodile, who then went off to Costa Rica with his partner to adopt baby crocodiles. It was a crazy story, but I tell you we remembered the Spanish words while creating and adding to that story, thanks to our teacher Alvaro.
In March we started layering in studying on our own with the various programs we already have access to, but just never completed them. I reviewed all of my materials by Synergy Spanish, I still say it is one of my favorites! We have been using SpanishDict quite a bit and studying those verbs!
Yes building our vocabulary has been key. Alan created an amazing set of flashcards with over 120 of the most common verbs, with all of their conjugations. This has been really great to use when waiting for an appointment or when you just have 5 or 10 minutes to kill. We can study any place or any time!
I have been adding in more screen time in Spanish and watching games shows online, as well as watching an entire season of Extra (Extr@) in Spanish. It’s a silly sitcom, similar to Friends and it is available on YouTube. I watched all 13 episode, without subtitles and understood 90% of it! Wooo Hooo! Small victories. We are both weaving more of the watching and listening into our daily lives.
We have speaking with the locals! Alan has a regular speaking partner, whom we happened to meet furniture shopping. He usually meets with her once or twice a week. I have a couple of different speaking partners and have about 3 sessions a week. My partners I met via various local Facebook groups where people are looking to improve a language. You just match yourself up with someone who speaks your target language and you speak theirs. I was a bit intimidated at first, but I really love speaking with my partners.
At some point we will speak more at home with our own kids, but for now they are busy with school and friends, so we give them a break. To be honest we are just trying to speak with anyone wherever we can. I have been going to physical therapy for my knee the past few weeks. I joke with my therapist that I get 2×1 with my session, because we chat in Spanish the entire time.
I have also attended about 5 weeks of conversation class (5 days a week, 90 minutes per day), with our favorite Tropical Coast Languages. This has really been incredible, especially combined with me scheduling my intercambio sessions following my class. I think my confidence and Spanish is reaching new levels, so you will just have to watch the video to see. Alan attended this class for one week, but was also working on writing an ebook. He decided to dedicate all of his attention to the ebook, as it is very difficult to attend class daily and work on a big project as well.
Change in timeline
Now you see what we have been doing, but in March our time dedicated to learning Spanish wasn’t as intensive, as we were really focused on getting our Spanish Driver’s License, which we did in April! That was a full-time job. We tried juggling Spanish with the studying for the driver’s license in February and it was very overwhelming. We tapered off a bit and were successful with our goal of getting that license.
Our original hope was to attend Pueblo Español in the late Spring or early summer, but as you can see it has been tricky. Obtaining our driver’s licenses set us back on our plan slightly, but we are now moving full steam ahead. As of May, we also have several big projects to work on for our websites. We’ve decided to divide the work up a bit and alternate the time we spend dedicated to studying Spanish versus our work. So for now, I am going to be more heavily weighted with Spanish and Alan will be spending the bulk of his time focusing on our business.
We will be doing both, but we are trying to keep afloat here as well, and need to make a living. Our new goal is for me to be able to attend Pueblo Español this summer and for Alan to be able to attend in the fall. We are trying to be very realistic as life also happens. We may want to have a little break here and there over the summer and we can’t wait to have Grandma Linda come to visit for the month of September.
Pueblo Español for Teens!
Just in case you didn’t know, they also offer the same program for Teens during the summer. It’s like a language summer camp, where your teen can fully immerse and speak Spanish with other teens. It is an amazing experience and all of the accommodation, activities, food & more is included with the tuition. This year, they are offering 2 student sessions (July 8-15 & July 22-29). Click here for more details.
We know this program is amazing, as Lars has been on the other end of the teen session. Last summer he volunteered for Pueblo Inglés, as a native English speaker, for 1 week in La Rioja. This was a camp for students to immerse and improve their English. Lars had such a wonderful experience and made lifelong friends, whom he still keeps in touch with. In fact, he loved it so much he will be volunteering at Pueblo Inglés for 2 weeks this July!
Speaking Spanish – Heidi & Alan’s Second Video Update
Okay I know why you are really here and I have been forcing you to read all of my blah blah blah, procrastinating a bit. Yes, I know you want to see and hear us speaking Spanish, I get it!
Keep in mind, we know we aren’t purrrfect! We make mistakes and sound like true foreigners, but we are doing it, so be nice! Since we are focusing different levels of effort on improving our Spanish, we will post separate videos.
Heidi Speaking Spanish
Alan Speaking Spanish
Wait, where is the videoAlan speaking Spanish? Well, we decided the give him a break this go round. Since he is focusing more on the family business, he will be giving his video updates in a couple of months. For now, you get to see a photo of him speaking Spanish at the local churreria.
And Let The Reviews Begin
What do you think? It’s OK. We have thick skin (Alan may, but I don’t). Watching it ack just kills us, but it is progress. We did the same thing when the kids were learning Spanish and it all worked out well. So we may as well keep doing videos for ourselves too.
Thanks for watching! Stay tuned for our next update…We will be in contact with Pueblo Español with our progrees, so hopefully we will be announcing a thumbs up and dates for our classes. Fingers crossed.