⚔️ My Battle for Fluency
We are coming close to halfway through 2022, and I’m checking in on my progress with Spanish. I have been writing about my goals on this site for some time, and I tend to be very honest with my status, probably even a little harsh.
My goal is to eventually look back at these posts, hopefully when I’m effortlessly fluent, and remember the journey that it took to get to that point. I don’t care what you read or hear: learning a second language takes a lot of consistent effort.
So, with that in mind… how are things going?
On pace to meet my conversational fluency goal.
In January, I wrote my Spanish goals for 2022 where the overall goal was to be at an advanced B2 level (possibly even low C1) by the end of the year.
As of right now, I am at a low B2 level when it comes to speaking, which is close to the first level of official fluency. That said, it can vary on the conversation topic and time of day. I still get caught up in certain situations and I sometimes have to think a little too much. I believe that I am on pace to meet an intermediate to advanced B2 level for speaking by the end of the year.
Regarding listening, I am finding that the language is slowing down for me, so I am able to better understand what people are saying to me, and I am also quicker to say what I want to say with less time spent translating in my head. While this isn’t always the case (sometimes I have days when it’s just not clicking), this level of comfort with the language is starting to become my norm – and it’s incredibly encouraging!
There are a few things that have helped me over the past five or six months to get to this point:
- More structured lessons with my teacher
- Watching Las Chicas del Cable on Netflix
- Speaking with strangers
First and foremost, my lessons with my tutor have been more structured than last year, but admittedly, not as structured as when I started. However, I think this is due to the fact that I now have the ability to just shoot-the-shit in Spanish. Sometimes I don’t feel like a formal lesson, so we just chat about whatever. I need to get a little more disciplined though for the remainder of the year if I want to progress grammatically.
Next, I have found that watching Spanish shows on Netflix have really been beneficial for my comprehension. Specifically, Lorena and I have been watching Las Chicas del Cable, a very dramatic and interesting show taking place in the 1920s in Spain at a telephone company.
The actors have a Spain accent (as opposed to one from Mexico, which I am more accustomed to), and they speak about a million miles per hour. I use Spanish subtitles, so I can try to grasp the conversations, which isn’t always easy. Luckily, I have Lorena to help clarify what is going on when I run into trouble. I think this has had one of the biggest impacts on my Spanish so far this year, and it was pretty unexpected!
Finally, this year, I have been putting myself out there more and starting up conversations with strangers in Spanish. There is a delicate balance here because I never want to offend anyone by implying they don’t speak English well. Usually, I ask if they speak Spanish and depending on their reaction, I’ll switch over. I suppose another good option would be to just let them know that I am studying, and if they would be okay if I practiced.
Despite making good progress in these areas, I know that I could (and should) be doing more.
While I am pleased with the progress I have made by using the methods just mentioned, I know that I could be doing more to progress quicker in the language. I don't know, sometimes I just lose motivation. I suppose that is normal, but it frustrates me just the same.
By way of example, I haven’t posted on my Spanish blog (Gringocios) on a regular basis. I think it’s perhaps because the subject of the site is boring me a bit (business and entrepreneurship). The world has plenty of people pontificating – I don’t want to just be another person adding to the noise. I think I need to consider diversifying my post topics, and perhaps that will get me back on track.
I also have taken a step back from reading, which is sad because I think reading books in Spanish is probably the one thing that helps me the most. I’ll be honest, I have never been much of a reader, so I think therein is the issue.
That said, I recently purchased few books and just finished one. They are small, short stories designed for people who are learning the language. It’s more difficult to find these books given that my current level (I search for those written at a B2 level) but I find them to be incredibly helpful in understanding grammatical structures.
My commitment to vocabulary flash cards hasn’t been strong so far this year. I take notes on vocab words during my lessons, but I haven’t been revisiting them on a regular basis. Recently, I have started to change this, and I am slowly catching up with all my flash cards.
Finally, I admit that I don’t talk to Lorena enough in Spanish. We say some things to each other during a day in Spanish, but primarily we speak in English. This is my fault. I need to commit to speaking more with her, so I get practice speaking on different topics.
I plan to start telling her a story every day in Spanish. Something small to begin, but perhaps over time we expand that to more. I just have to commit to it.
The journey never ends, but I am starting to get somewhere.
Learning Spanish will be a lifelong journey, and I know that I’ll never feel like I am “done”, but at this point, I feel like I am getting somewhere with all the effort that I have been putting into it.
I have always wanted to have conversations without much strain for the other person, and I am starting to experience that on a more regular basis. I hope that soon this becomes even more effortless.
I look forward to the end of the year and to seeing where I am no up with my level. If I supplement what I am doing with some of the opportunity areas I mentioned, then I am sure I’ll be at an excellent place heading into 2023.
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