This Will Make You Understand The Path To Speaking Spanish

The new year has begun and with that, we have set some personal goals and we have a fairly clear path to Pueblo Español.  As we confessed earlier, Alan and I need to step it up a notch when it comes to speaking Spanish.  We shared all of our rational and excuses as to why we aren’t better Spanish speakers, but it needs to stop!  We have an opportunity to work with Pueblo Español this year and we don’t want to mess that up!  Just a reminder, we need to be at least intermediate level with our Spanish, in order to attend Pueblo Español.

Who is trying to improve their Spanish?
Alan and Heidi!
Alan and Heidi are on the Path to Pueblo Español

What is Pueblo Español?

Just a quick reminder, Pueblo Español is an Intensive Spanish course in Spain.  It takes place in beautiful remote villages (outside Salamanca and in a province of Andalucía), so it does involve travel for us.  It is a full week of Spanish immersion for about 12-14 hours a day.  Phew!

Our Path to Pueblo Español Summary

So we have done quite a bit of research and soul-searching and have come up with a listing of actions for us to take, so we can create a clear path to Pueblo Español.  These are steps we feel we can manage and incorporate into our daily lives until they become habits.  We will start gradually and then keep adding as we go.

Below is a listing of the things we plan to do.  After that, we have a great excuse why these weren’t acted upon in 2016 and then the details of each step going forward.

  • Resident Spanish course
  • Intercambio with locals
  • Intensive Spanish course
  • Speak Spanish at home with the kids
  • More Spanish screen time!
  • Online vocabulary builders
  • Video diary speaking Spanish (Yikes!)

The excuses have already started

Okay, we already have a confession!  We planned to get started on all of this mid-November and then something happened.  I wanted to finish the Driving in Spain ebook and one other project.  In addition, each of us was taken down with a nasty bug, one by one.  Just like a set of perfectly aligned dominoes.  We were each zapped beginning with Anya, then a few days later it was me, followed by Alan about a week later.

Lars managed to avoid this one, but we were pretty much bed ridden for over a week each.  Then the nasty bug just lingered for a couple more weeks, never letting us get back to our old selves.  Finally a visit to the doctor, antibiotics all around and we finally were on the mend around the holidays.  Of course we were in travel mode for the holidays and made our way to Scotland.  You can read all about Scotland here!

Edinburgh Christmas Street of Lights

As with any trip, the week we return home is not only time to unpack and catch up on laundry.  For us, that is a massive work week.  We usually have hundreds of photos to sift through to tag and edit, as well as video footage, and of course we need to write about our experiences.  This doesn’t sound like much, but it really is like a full-time job.  If we don’t get organized right away, things never get done and it is tough to find the right photos later.

So all of that to say, we have excuses for not getting on that path to Pueblo Español sooner.  Now it is time to hunker down and really get focused!  Speaking Spanish and obtaining our Spanish Driver’s license are our top priorities for the first quarter in 2017.

 

Our Path to Pueblo Español Details

  • Resident Spanish course

    A resident Spanish course is a casual course which meets twice a week for an hour each time.  We actually signed up for a course mid-November, but as you already know, with being sick and the holidays I only attended once and I think Alan made it two or three times.  We are now going to attend as of mid-January and plan to continue to go regularly.

    The hope is to provide us with routine and keeping Spanish in our weekly life.  It also means we need to attend twice a week and it will help keep us accountable.  We won’t be making great strides with just two hours a week, but it is getting us back on the bike and then we will remember how to ride.

  • Intercambio with locals (2 hours weekly, ongoing)

    Intercambio mean an interchange or exchange.  We have a few local friends in town who would like to improve their English and of course we would like to improve our Spanish.  We plan to establish a regular schedule with them to just practice our conversation.  It is a bit like the purple chicken game we created for the kids when we moved here, but a bit more organized.

    At the moment we don’t have a certain number of days and hours, as it depends on our friends too.  I get a little of this daily conversation with my friends at Mercadona, but we need a stronger dose for at least an hour.  It is a you scratch my back and I scratch yours concept, but it will keep us talking.  Not to mention we get some extra time with local friends!

  • Intensive Spanish course ( 1-2 weeks every each quarter)

    This is a knock your socks off for 2-3 hours a day, 5 days a week kind of intensive.  The thought is we would sprinkle in a few of these about every couple of months or so.  We haven’t decided if it will be one or two weeks each time, but we will figure that out soon enough.  Either way, we plan to have some intensive Spanish mixed in with our resident course too.  We did about 5-6 weeks of intensive Spanish in October 2015 and made huge progress, but it was also very exhausting.  I personally was brain-dead by the end of each day after class and my homework, but it really worked well.

    Of course that was over a year ago and without using it, you lose it!  I know what you are thinking, why don’t you just do the intensive again?  Well, it is expensive (a couple hundred euros a week each) and it just isn’t in the budget right now, as we are going to be spending loads for our driver’s license as well as Lars getting braces this month.  We have to be realistic and do what we can, when we can, and as we can afford it.

  • Speak Spanish at home with the kids (ongoing)

    This is a no brainer, free and we can do it anytime.  The kids are usually up for it, but they get frustrated with us too.  We don’t want to put too much on their shoulders as far as being responsible for us, so this will just be ad hoc.  Perhaps we can incorporate it into our fun family pictionary nights or charades or something.  We will need to get creative and over time, it will naturally increase.

  • More Spanish screen time! (ongoing /daily)

    Just as we did with the kids when we first moved to Spain, we need more screen time!  We need to watch and listen in Spanish.  Unfortunately another excuse we have is our TV only gets UK channels.  Our rental comes with satellite and we have tried everything to pick up Spanish stations and have not been successful.  So we are going to the internet for assistance.

    We will be watching movies, cartoons and more in Spanish via our laptops.  FluentU is a great video based resource.  Of course we can easily plug our laptop into the TV and there ya go!  When we did this in the past, we found it was good to watch with the audio in Spanish and the subtitles in Spanish too.  That way we could see the word.

  • Online and digital vocabulary builders

    This is a tricky one, as it helps with vocabulary but not always with conversation.  We will dip into Duolingo, Pimsleur.com, Synergy Spanish, and other software we have.  We have so many tools available to us, we tend to use them for a while and then fizzle out.  Now it is time not to fizzle.  We will start weaving this in over time, once we are back up on that bike.

  • Video diary speaking Spanish – Yikes! (monthly)

    This is the tough part, we need some accountability.  We plan to create at least one video a month with us speaking Spanish.  It will not only help us see our own progress, but it will keep us on track knowing we have to expose ourselves to you!  Let us know if there is something in particular you would like us to discuss or talk about.

    Ug, I really don’t like being on video.  I don’t like my voice or looking at myself, so I hope over time I will just “get over it” and not care anymore.  We haven’t decided if we will each have our own video or if we will be speaking to each other.  Either way, subscribe to our Wagoners Abroad YouTube channel to see the video updates.

    If you want to flash back to the past, we have videos of the kids speaking Spanish, so we will likely do something similar.

  • Blog posts (monthly)

    Once again, this is for accountability.  Once a month we will write-up a quick post on our progress with the path to Pueblo Español.  For now, we don’t know how long this is all going to take us, but we will keep you informed along the way.  It is possible it will go along with our video and perhaps we will even include the video in the blog post.  Either way, we are on the hook each month to share our progress with you.

Our Path to Pueblo Español Details

When does the path to Pueblo Español end?

Yikes, okay help me figure this out.  Just a quick reminder, Pueblo Español is an Intensive Spanish course in Spain.  It takes place in beautiful remote villages (outside Salamanca and in a province in Andalucía), so it does involve travel for us.  Alan and I can’t attend the same week, as someone needs to stay home with the kids.

Their weekly courses run from March to November.  Our realistic guess, we will be aiming to attend sometime over the summer.  Perhaps even one of us attending in the summer and the other in the fall.  Either way, we want to get there in 2017!

Here are the program dates for 2017.

  • March 17-24 Rosaleda Don Pedro (Úbeda, Jaén)
  • April 21-28 Rosaleda Don Pedro (Úbeda, Jaén)
  • May 19-26 Rosaleda Don Pedro (Ubeda, Jaén)
  • June 16-23 Doña Teresa (La Alberca, Salamanca)
  • June 30-July 7 Rosaleda Don Pedro (Ubeda, Jaén)
  • July 8-15* Rosaleda Don Pedro (Ubeda, Jaén) **Student Program**
  • July 15-22* Rosaleda Don Pedro (Ubeda, Jaén) **Student Program**
  • July 22-29* Rosaleda Don Pedro (Ubeda, Jaén) **Student Program**
  • July 28 to August 4 Doña Teresa (La Alberca, Salamanca)
  • September 8-15 Doña Teresa (La Alberca, Salamanca)
  • October 20-27 Doña Teresa (La Alberca, Salamanca)
  • November 10-17 Doña Teresa (La Alberca, Salamanca)

Additional programs offered:

We will see if we should participate in any of these as well.

  • Villa Española: 3 to 5-day residential courses with teachers to maximize the student’s’ time and effort at our hotel in Segovia.
  • Intensive Spanish: 4-day Spanish course (16 hours) to reinforce grammar structures, vocabulary, listening and speaking in our Madrid offices prior to each Pueblo Español immersion.
  • Homestays: 1 to 3-week stays with Spanish families.
  • Work experience: 1 to 3 week program to combine Spanish learning with cultural integration while applying your work skills.
  • Volunteer experience: 1 to 2-weeks with Spaniards in our Pueblo Inglés programs.

Well there you have it!

What do you think?  Is it achievable?  Do you have additional suggestions or thoughts for us?  Maybe you want to buy a Spanish class or a coffee for us?  Either comment below or contact us to let us know 🙂

10 thoughts on “This Will Make You Understand The Path To Speaking Spanish

  1. ¿Puede escribir unos blogs en español, también?
    Necesito practicar leyendo español, y quizás ayudaría a ustedes a escribir español. 🙂

  2. Hi Heidi,
    I think your plan is well thought out and takes your strengths and weaknesses into account. I think it is totally doable and I would love to follow your progress. We are just starting on our traveling dreams and goals. I hope that we can follow your progress and learn from you and grow our own travel blog.
    Living life Rebelliously Positively and Positively Rebellious!!

  3. Just thought I would check in on your blog and see how you guys are doing! Sounds like all is going well. Remember me from last year? We are just waiting on our visas to give us a couple more years here in Granada. Fingers crossed all goes well as we have been waiting since November (they are apparently quite behind).
    Wanted to chime in and suggest Podcasts for learning. I have recently become obsessed with them as they are something I can do while walking to get groceries or lying in bed at night (I often fall asleep in the middle). My favourites are Radio Ambulante, CarneCruda, Radio Gramsci, LdeLengua and El Gran Apagón. El Gran Apagón is a great sci-fi story. I am enjoying having someone tell me a story at night (I am usually the ones reading bedtime stories). 🙂
    Have fun!

    • Hey Kathryn! Yes, we remember you. Wow has it been a year already? Time sure does fly doesn’t it? Oh your suggestions are wonderful. I will add them to the list of things to do for sure. This week we take the written exam for our Spanish Driver’s license, so for now that is all we are focused on! Once we are through that hoop, it is back into Spanish every day. 🙂 podcasts here we come.

  4. Heidi, I love following your progress and all your ideas! I am on a similar journey but behind your curve. I can recommend duolingo – both the ‘learning Spanish course’, and the ‘learning English course’ for Spanish speakers. They both offer great vocab, spelling, listening, and writing skills, and understanding of all the verb tenses. And it’s a lot of repetition which is serving me. I am reading children’s books – especially the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne in Spanish (La Casa de Arbol). There are about 50 books and they’re delightful even for adults. The main characters take trips through time to other countries and experiences so each one has new vacabulary. They were originally written in English and you can get them for 5 Euros each on Amazon.es. I’ve been listening to NotesinSpanish which I love. They have worksheets and transcripts to go with the dialogue if you pay for them. You can listen for free. Also, Spanishwizards.com has conversations with native Spanish speakers that have the written transcripts below which can be loaded into a word bank. I use their flashcard feature for all my new words from anywhere and love it a lot. I also love youtube videos by Senor Jordan for my grammar lessons. He’s clear and funny and relevant. I’m going to try some of Kathryn’s podcasts, too. And I’m starting an intercambio with 2 lovely people that I met on openlanguageexchange.com. Each of these methods complement each other and are all lots of fun. And I’m becoming a little braver in jumping into conversations in Spanish, or, as we say in Catalunya, castellano. 🙂 Thanks for being brave, Heidi. We’re all there with you in spirit!!!

    • Thanks Robin. I love all of the extra recommendations. I think everyone has a different learning style and learning curve, so it is worth to keep trying a variety of things. I love Duolingo too, I have to earn my points! We will all get there!

Come on and tell us what you think!