How I Learned Spanish in 8 Weeks – Videos
Way back in 2012, I started an eight-week plan to learn as much Spanish as I could starting from nothing. Before I started I knew how to say Hola and Adios and I could count to ten.
For eight weeks I studied without missing a day for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.
I made a video every Friday to document my progress and also wrote a blog update every day. I’ve gone through my old blog posts and organized all my notes in one place.
Hopefully this will inspire you to learn Spanish.
My Results Were Typical
You will read a lot of ads on the web for things like weight loss and the ads will say, “Results not typical.” In this case, I think my results WERE typical of what almost anyone could do with our method and one hour of study per day for 8 weeks.
Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
September 28, 2012: Today I’m starting a silly, crazy, project, and I hope you’ll join me.
I’m starting to learn Spanish with the very ambitious goal of being solidly conversational by Friday, November 23, 2012 which is the Friday after Thanksgiving. Today I only speak a few phrases of Spanish.
I’ll study for for two 30 minute sessions per day. One session in the morning and one in the afternoon. I am also going to try to talk Spanish (no matter how badly) every chance I get.
The Tools I’ll Use to Learn Spanish
My main study plan is to use the Language101.com lessons from this site. However I’m incredibly pragmatic about learning, and I’ll use anything that works. Feel free to make suggestions.
If I use any other Spanish learning products, I’ll write about it here. I’m also going to try to talk Spanish every chance I get and I’m going to follow the advice of these articles on how to learn any language.
I’ll choose to have a great attitude. My attitude will be — “I’m going to enjoy every single one of my mistakes.” (smile)
What You Can Expect To See Here
I plan to make text updates here every day and weekly video updates on Friday. Everyone gets too busy during the holidays, but between now and Thanksgiving you can really get something done, so join me.
Use any language learning methods you like (I do recommend Language101.com) set your goals, dive in and have fun. Send me a video and I’ll post it here. There’s nothing quite like declaring your goals publicly to keep you motivated.
Brent Van Arsdell
September 28, 2012 Spanish study experience: I didn’t start studying until about 9:00 p.m. which was way too late, and I did have some interruptions.
Then the software started generating errors which was distracting. These are very rare, but if you ever get any errors, please copy them and e-mail them to us (along with what browser and what kind of computer you are using) so we can fix them.
Fortunately these errors seemed like they were related to the particular test account that I was using to study with and they were easy to fix.
So that’s day one. What fun!
September 29, 2012 Spanish study experience: I studied from 11:30 a.m. until noon and from 5:30 p.m until 6:00 p.m. A half an hour of very fast study seems to be about all I can do at one time. It’s quite tiring.
About 5:30 p.m. someone knocked on my door and I just yelled a quick “go away” and went back to studying. It seemed to work.
These earlier study times were much more effective than yesterday’s 9:00 p.m. 1 hour session.
I did get a chance in the early afternoon to try my few Spanish phrases on a woman from Columbia who happened to be visiting. That was fun!
September 30, 2012 Spanish study: This morning I studied from 10:35 to 11:05 a.m. and 4:05 to 4:35 p.m. I went very fast and seemed to be quite productive.
October 1, 2012 Spanish study: I did my morning study session from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. and noticed a few small mistakes in literal translations. Later in the day I fixed the errors and changed the syntax on the literal translations.
The words [in brackets] on the literal translation line correspond to one Spanish word below.The words [in brackets] on the literal translation line correspond to one Spanish word below.[/caption]Now you will often see [two or more words in brackets if one Spanish word takes two or more English words to express the idea.
For my evening study session I decided to try Fluenz Spanish. I tried to run it from the DVD and on my first attempt met the black screen of death. After half an hour of fiddling and registering, I had it running. I do a full review on it as soon as I’ve gotten further into it.
Fluenz is trying to reproduce a university classroom with their software, which means that it will probably be like a university with hours of boredom and a few jewels of learning thrown in.
Her advice for rolling the R in Buenas tardes is probably pretty good. Open your mouth more and focus on the “A” in front of the R
Today I also talked with a Spanish teacher on the phone for 15 minutes or so. What fun.
October 2, 2012 Spanish study: My study times today were 11:30 a.m until noon and from 4:35 until about 5:20 p.m. In my evening study session a bunch of things seemed to gel and suddenly I was understanding all the different ways to say “What’s your name?” in Spanish.
I am trying to always say the Spanish phrases on top of the teacher’s recorded voice. This helps me get the pronunciation a lot better.
October 3, 2012 Spanish study: My study times today were from 11:20 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. and from 3:00 to 3:30 p.m. I made a mistake for part of the time and studied with my editing account instead of my study account.
It seems like I am making good progress. The key is to go really fast and try to do each phrase in about 5 seconds.
I plan to get some videos posted to the support area soon giving more details about how to study fast.
October 4, 2012 Spanish study: I completed my seventh day of study by getting my morning half hour from 11:15 to 11:45 and my afternoon session from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. I do have some trouble with my mind wandering which is not good.
It doesn’t really matter how much time you are staring at the computer, what matters is how much engaged time you spend. Tomorrow I’ll do a video update. My short bio
Video Update #1 – Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
October 5, 2012 Spanish study: I did my study today from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m and from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m.
I definitely know a lot more Spanish than I did a week ago.
Reducing Confusion and Adding Speed
October 6, 2012 Spanish study: This is an important post, so read it carefully. One of the most common problems in language learning is the problem of interference.
For example Aquí está su cuenta, which means, “Here is your bill” sounds a lot like “Aquí está su cambio”, which means “Here is your change.” This can do two things that are bad.
1. You end up thinking you know the second one better than you do so you give yourself too good a grade.
2. You get confused about which is which and end up wasting a lot of time making useless mistakes.
How to Learn Phrases That Sound Alike
Both of these problems can slow you down a LOT so here’s how to solve them. If you notice that you are being confused with two or more phrases either because they have similar English translations or if they sound alike in Spanish you should separate them in time in your study experience.
Try it Again Tomorrow
There are two ways to do this. The first way is to wait for one of the interfering items to appear and then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Try this again tomorrow” button. This will re-schedule the item for tomorrow and at least the rest of today’s study is not going to have that particular interference problem.
Pretend to be Perfect
The other way to separate two interfering items in time is to give yourself an artificially good grade of perfect on one of them while correctly grading the other one wrong. This is particularly useful if you have two very similar (meaning or sounding) items come up in a row. This will separate them by at least several minutes and it may be enough time to get one of them firmly in your mind.
My Study Today
I did my study today from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. and from 5:30 until 6:00 p.m. It was a good progress day.
Becoming More Alert and the Value of Deadlines
October 7, 2012 Spanish study: I did my morning study from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. and my afternoon study from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m.
I’m not sure why, but I was quite sleepy when the time came for my evening study session. I did some fast walking for several minutes before starting to study. That helped wake me up some.
The Value of Deadlines
If I am busy working on some project and it gets to be 11:00 a.m., I have to drop what I am doing and get ready to study. Noon is a hard deadline. If I want to get 30 minutes of study in the morning it has to start by at least 11:30 a.m.
I think I will give myself a hard deadline of 4:00 p.m. to finish my afternoon study. While I can cheerfully study in the evening it’s not nearly as effective for me as study in the early to mid afternoon.
I suggest choosing times that are right for you and giving yourself a hard deadline to complete you study session before that time.
October 8, 2012 Spanish study: I did my morning study from 11:20 to 11:50 and my afternoon study from 3:50 to 4:20 p.m.
Deleting Phrases, 3 Study Periods and Lonely Planet Spanish
October 9, 2012 Spanish study: Today I studied three times from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m., from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m. and from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. I’m trying to get through one lesson per day and while I don’t think I will stick with three study sessions, I had time today.
I also deleted several phrases and I think it’s important for you to know why.
What I Deleted
First I deleted “Claro que si” because I also had the phrase “Claro que si, pase” in my study plan. Next I deleted Muchas Gracias, because I had “¡Hasta luego, muchas gracias!” in my study plan.
Deferred Until Tomorrow
For some reason I was having trouble with the phrase “¿Desea alguna bebida?” so with that phrase on the screen I scrolled to the bottom of the screen and clicked, “Try This Again Tomorrow”.
Lonely Planet Mexican Spanish
Just because you can easily learn Spanish without studying grammar doesn’t mean that studying a little bit of grammar might not help. Grammar is after all the study of patterns in languages and if you think it might help to learn a little grammar, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Today was the first day that I had a chance to open my Lonely Planet Mexican Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary. It has 18 small pages explaining Spanish grammar.
If you hated studying English grammar you can skip it and you’ll still learn just fine. However knowing what the patterns in Spanish are might help.
Since the Spanish we feature on Language101.com is educated Mexican Spanish, this book should be a good match.
I’m still neutral on the value of studying grammar, but if you like grammar, the 14 pages on grammar in this little book are clear and well organized.
Earlier Study Works Better
October 10, 2012 Spanish study: For me, earlier study in the day (but not too early) works better. Today I studied Spanish from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. until 2:00 p.m.
I don’t think there is anything magic about study in the morning, but I do think that there is something magic about doing your study at the beginning of your periods of peak mental alertness.
My guess is that study at the beginning of your peak mental alertness periods is worth at least twice as much as study when you are ending a period of alertness. Study when you are tired, is not worth much at all.
Why You Should Study When You are Tired
October 11, 2012 Spanish study: Today I studied from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 and from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. The morning session was very effective and the afternoon session was marginal because I was tired probably from staying up too late last night.
So should you still study when you are tired? Absolutely and here’s why.
There is Huge Value in Tired Study!
After all my talk about how relatively ineffective tired study is, why would I suggest that you study when you are tired? There’s only one reason and here it is.
Tired study will preserve your study habits, and consistent study habits are what separate people who can speak foreign languages well from those who can’t.
Do everything you can to preserve your study habits, including studying when you are very tired.
Video Update #2 – Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
October 12, 2012 Spanish study: Today I studied Spanish from 11:00 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. and from 4:15 p.m until 5:00 p.m.
There are some very important things that I did right in the video conversation above with the nice Mexican girl.
Ask the Questions
When you are a beginner trying to have your first few conversations in Spanish, don’t let the other person ask the questions. You ask the questions. That way you at least know what the subject is, and you will seem much more competent than you are.
This will be a lot more fun for everyone than if you just wait for some random question that you probably won’t understand.
Join me this is a LOT of fun!
Language Study Will Tire You
October 13, 2012 Spanish study: I did my morning study from 11:15 until noon and my afternoon study from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.
When I first started studying Spanish just over two weeks ago, I would be mentally exhausted and physically tired after 30 minutes of study.
Fortunately that is beginning to change.
I’m not sure why intense language study is so tiring at first, but it is. If you are using an effective method and focusing on it intently it will probably make you very tired.
Fortunately after two weeks of faithfully and intensely studying Spanish for an hour a day, it doesn’t make me nearly as tired. Perhaps my brain is getting in tune with Spanish.
My experience with speaking new languages is that the first time you spend an entire day talking your new language, you can expect to be very tired.
Your first few weeks of intense language study will probably do the same thing.
The Order I’m Studying These Lessons In
October 14, 2012 Spanish study: Today I did my Spanish study from 11:30 a.m. until noon and also from 3:30 p.m. until 4:00.
When we designed the Language101.com software we intentionally made it so that you could study the lessons in any order.
You can still do that, however a lot of people would like a suggested order to study the lessons in, so here is the order I am studying these lessons in:
This is not a list from God, that says you must study them in this particular order. You can still choose an order that suits your fancy. However this is the order that I am studying in.
As I write this I have completed the list through, “Young Mexican Students Introducing Themselves.”
This list will grow as I complete these lessons because we have a lot more lessons than I have on this list.
Reading From Right to Left?
October 15, 2012 Spanish study: From today on, I’m moving the summary of my Spanish study to the bottom of each post.
In English and Spanish we read from left to right, at least that’s the way we think we read. Some languages like Hebrew and Arabic are written and read from right to left.
So the order in which you actually recognize and recall new foreign language phrases as you study them may surprise you.
Today I was studying the phrase which had this prompt in English:
Meaning: Teach me something in Spanish.
Literal: [Teach me] something in Spanish.
The Spanish phrase I was supposed to come up with was: Enseñame algo en español.
The first thing that I remembered was the last three words which mean “something in Spanish”, so I said that part out loud, then I remembered the first word so I said the entire phrase.
Partial Recall Prompts Full Recall
On phrases that I don’t yet have entirely mastered, I find that I can often remember (and say) the last part of the phrase and the process of saying part of the phrase often prompts me to remember the entire phrase.
Always remember to say out loud the parts of a phrase that you can say. That may prompt you to remember the rest.
Enjoy your mistakes, they are part of the game and smile when you note the somewhat strange fact that you will often remember the words in the wrong order.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. and from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.
How I Learn Difficult Phrases
October 16, 2012 Spanish study: Some phrases are difficult. Sometimes you’ll find a real tongue twister or a long phrase that just doesn’t seem to stick.
Here’s how I learn these tough phrases.
First I stay in the flow of study. I don’t criticize myself when I have trouble with a phrase. I just keep myself in the flow and keep on studying.
Next I will cheerfully grade myself wrong many times in a row if the phrase is particularly hard. I will keep doing this a few times after I’ve said the phrase correctly.
I find that a few more repetitions than would seem necessary when I am starting to learn a new difficult phrase, significantly reduce the time it takes to learn the phrase overall.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. and again from 2:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Improving Your Study Efficiency
October 17, 2012 Spanish study: Let’s take a minute and calculate your study efficiency.
Study Efficiency as the amount you spend mentally engaged in language study divided by clock time.
It’s pretty obvious that staring at your computer while thinking about your upcoming vacation to Mexico won’t teach you much Spanish.
What Really Helps You Learn
You really learn Spanish when you are actively recalling and repeating Spanish phrases. Telling yourself that it’s hard, or that you aren’t good at this, or that this is a difficult phase or any other “self talk” of any type, is just wasted time.
When you first sit down to study, your mind will be all over the place criticizing you and distracting you. Here’s how to deal with these mental distractions.
Silly Little Thoughts
In order to learn quickly, you need to gently and quickly acknowledge these silly little thoughts and quickly pull yourself back to concentrating on your study.
If someone interrupts you for one minute and you quickly return to your study, that’s one minute lost. If you then gripe to yourself about the interruption, you may lose several more minutes complaining to yourself about it.
Get in the habit of quickly and gently pulling your mind back from wherever it wanders to your study. Never be hard on yourself. When you realize that your mind is wandering just say, “Silly little thoughts” and quickly go back to studying.
This will make your study sessions much more efficient, and also much more relaxing.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 11:30 a.m until noon. and again from 2:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Headphones – You Need BIG Headphones!
October 18, 2012 Spanish study: In order to learn Spanish well, you need to be able to hear the Spanish well, and in order to hear it well you need headphones.
Even in you have perfect hearing in a quiet room, you’ll get a lot better results by using big, comfortable, over the ear headphones.
If your environment is noisy consider getting Bose active noise cancelling headsets or something similar.
I’m really not sure why big over the ear headphones seem to help you learn better than earbuds, or speakers, but they do.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 11:30 a.m until noon. and again from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Video Update #3 – Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
October 19, 2012 Spanish study: For the last three weeks I’ve done something very unusual. I’ve actually stuck to my goal of studying Spanish for an hour every day.
Now here’s the strange part. If you leave a comment about your goals below it will actually help you stick to them.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 11:20 a.m until 11:50. and again from 4:15 to 4:45 p.m.
To Learn Spanish — You Have to Stop Watching the News
October 20, 2012 Spanish study update:
If you have a box full of stuff and you want to put something new in, you will have to take something out.
Your life is like that full box. If you want to put something new in like learning Spanish you’ll have to take something out.
The better you do at taking something out of your life, the better you will do at learning Spanish.
What to Cut
The best thing I ever cut from my life was the news. I could never change the money scandals, sex scandals, or the tragedies I read about, and I immediately felt better when I stopped watching.
When I started studying Spanish, I had to cut something else, since I had cut the news out of my life several years ago.
I decided to cut some work projects that weren’t going anywhere.
I don’t care how busy you are, there are some low value things in your life that you can cut.
Make your decision, cut something, dive into your learning and never look back!
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:20 a.m until 9:50. and again from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m.
It’s Learning Minus Forgetting That Counts
October 21, 2012 Spanish study update:
Eventually you forget everything. I don’t care what it was, whether it was your first kiss, your first love, or your first language that your mother taught you, you’ll forget it if you don’t remember it and use it.
That’s the reason why long-term learning methods need to deal with forgetting.
Here’s how we do that here.
Active Recall at Intervals
Memories — all memories — need to be actively recalled at different time intervals in order to remain stable. If you study correctly with Language101.com you will do exactly that. You’ll learn quickly and keep your memories with a very small amount of review time.
If you don’t study correctly with us, you may learn nothing at all. If you haven’t already watched our “how to study videos”, you should watch our video instructions.
Then you’ll understand how to learn without forgetting.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 11:30 a.m until noon and again from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.
Restarting Your Spanish Study
October 22, 2012 Spanish study update:
Okay maybe yesterday you forgot to study, forget that. Forget that you missed this morning’s study session too. Forget everything except what’s happening right now.
Now, in this brief shining moment, you can change how you study and start learning Spanish again.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:15 a.m until 9:45 and again from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Don’t Spit on Your Friends When Studying Spanish
October 23, 2012 Spanish study update:
Babies drool while learning to talk. Successful language students spit while learning to say Spanish sounds.
Of course you won’t pucker up and spit a great glob of spit into the trash can. But when you first start to copy new language sounds don’t be surprised if you accidentally send some tiny flecks of saliva flying in the direction you are talking.
Little Flecks of Saliva
Think about it. When you are studying a new language you will be trying to learn to say the new sounds of your new language and at first you won’t be in very good control of your mouth, tongue and saliva.
When you are trying to do things with your mouth that you haven’t done since you were a drooling baby, don’t be surprised if some saliva comes out in unexpected ways.
The best solution of course is to develop much of your proficiency in front of a computer, and then when you are taking to a new friend in Spanish to turn your head slightly so that any offending flecks of saliva don’t land on your new friend.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 11:15 a.m until 11:45 and again from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Getting the Feel of Spanish Femines (Without Getting Slapped)
October 24, 2012 Spanish study update:
Spanish words have gender, and English words basically don’t. What that means for new Spanish students is that the names of almost everything (nouns) will often end in an “A” if they are feminine and end in an “O” if they are masculine.
Fortunately we have an easy way to get a feel for this.
Spanish Gender Lesson
We have a lesson called Spanish masculine and feminine example words that was quite fun to study. It goes through a lot of examples of how Spanish words change when you are talking about males or females and of course some examples of how things that never were alive have gender for purposes of talking about them.
For example, radios are masculine in Spanish so turn on the radio becomes, “Prende el radio.” The middle word “el” tells you that this is masculine.
Computers are always feminine so the phrase “use my computer” becomes “Usa mi computadora”.
This is a particularly fast and easy, fun and useful lesson so when our software prompts you to add a new lesson, you might want to add this one.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 10:45 a.m until 11:15 and again from 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
When to Add New Lessons
October 25, 2012 Spanish study update:
Let’s say you just added a new lesson to your study plan, but when you study you don’t see any of the new phrases. What’s wrong?
Well nothing is wrong, but you need to know when to add new lessons.
How Language101.com Works
When you grade yourself, the grade you give yourself combined with previous grades is used to calculate a new optimal study time in the future. You will never see that particular phrase before that study time.
As time passes, the optimal time to review the phrase will move to the past and then when you return to study our software sets up a list of items for you to study next based on which one is most overdue.
Why It’s Important to Study Fast
If you don’t study fast enough and long enough it’s possible to get into a loop of learning and forgetting in which you will never see any new items, because the rate at which you are learning new items is matching the rate that you are forgetting old items.
That’s why it’s very important to study for at least 30 minutes and why it’s important to go as fast as you can. Try to take only 5 seconds per phrase. Don’t try to get phrases perfectly the first time, just try to get them slightly better each time.
Add New Lessons Only When Prompted To
If you add new lessons before our software is prompting you to, they just form a long list of unstudied items. This isn’t a good idea. Only add new phrases when the software prompts you to and quickly go back to your study.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 10:15 a.m until 10:45 and again from 5:150 to 5:45 p.m.
Video Update #4 – Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
October 26, 2012 Spanish study update:
According to our software I have studied 499 phrases since starting this 4 weeks ago. So I’m learning about 125 new phrases per week.
Since these are well chosen phrases, that’s excellent progress.
Anyone Can Do This
It looks like I am on target to become conversational in 8 weeks. It looks like I will have learned about 1000 phrases in 8 weeks and I should be able to speak basic Spanish.
The really important thing here is that I have kept my day job and I have only studied for 1 hour per day. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:30 a.m until 10:00 and again from 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
Talk Spanish Every Chance You Get
October 27, 2012 Spanish study update:
It’s important to talk Spanish every chance you get. But in the last four weeks I haven’t had many chances to talk Spanish.
Today I had one.
Finding People to Talk To
Today I met a man with holding a little girl. He spoke good English, but he had an accent so I asked him in Spanish, “Where are you from?” He replied in Spanish and we had a great time talking.
I understood most of what he said and it was a lot of fun. When you find a chance to talk Spanish, you need to talk to the person in a disarming way. Make them feel relaxed and both of you will have a great time.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 11:30 a.m until noon and again from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m.
Open Wide and Take Your Language Learning Medicine
October 28, 2012 Spanish study update:
I know you don’t think you need this, but you do. What is it? It’s advice on how to learn any language and believe me, you need it even if you only plan to learn Spanish.
You’ll like the articles in the link above, but here is one extra tip that will turbocharge your language learning, and yes this means you.
Make the Other Guy Feel Good
When you first try to talk to someone in your new language, almost the first thing you should say is something like, “I like your country.” This is very close to saying, “I like you.” and it’s guaranteed to make the person you are talking to feel good.
And you know what will happen next? You will magically feel good too and that will keep you engaged in learning the language.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 11:45 a.m until 12:15 p.m. and again from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m.
To Learn Fast You Have to Study Fast
October 30, 2012 Spanish study update:
This should be obvious but it isn’t. To learn a lot of new Spanish phrases in 30 minutes, you have to SEE a lot of new phrases in 30 minutes.
You can’t learn quickly by studying slowly. That just doesn’t work. What makes learning work is the process of remembering (or trying to remember) and then saying the phrase you are being asked to say.
Continuing to say a phrase after you have said it once is a waste of time. Don’t try to say the phrases perfectly each time, just try to say them slightly better each time.
You should see a phrase and say it and go on to the next one in about 5 seconds.
The Exception to the Five Second Rule
The only time you should spend more than five seconds on a phrase is if a few more seconds seems likely to help you say the phrase. If you are drawing a complete blank (which happens to me a lot) just quickly click on “I don’t know” and go on.
The Important Phrase Isn’t the One You are Currently Studying
The important phrase to learn isn’t the one you are currently studying. It’s the one you studied a few moments ago and is scheduled for review very quickly. If you spend too much time working on the current phrase you will forget the previous phrase and then the system won’t work.
To learn fast you have to study fast!
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 10:30 until 11:00 a.m. and again from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m.
Tell Your Fans That You’re Learning Spanish
October 31, 2012 Spanish study update:
Notice that I didn’t say, “Tell your friends.” Most of us definitely have friends that we should not tell.
But there is at least one person in your life who really loves you and will cheer for you on every inch of your Spanish learning journey.
Applause Now Please
The wonderful thing about language teachers and tutors is that they are very good at covering you in complements when you deserve them, and there will be times when you deserve them.
So if you don’t already have someone in your life who thinks that learning Spanish is an incredibly cool thing to do, then find someone like this. They are out there and they want to help you.
I have enjoyed and been encouraged by going to language clubs where I met native speakers and other enthusiastic learners.
You know that we think what you are doing is the coolest thing since sliced bread, now find someone who will tell that to you face to face!
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:30 until 10:15 a.m. and again from 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
What I Mean by “Incredibly Pleasant Language Learning”
November 1, 2012 Spanish study update:
At the top left of the Langauge101.com home page, there’s a picture of me and the phrase, “Incredibly Pleasant Language Learning.” So what exactly does that mean?
Where are the Dancing Girls?
When you try our software you’ll find a spaced repetition system for memorizing phrases. So where are the incredibly pleasant experiences?
Your Incredible Experiences Aren’t In Our Software
But we will show you how to have them right away. Imagine how you would feel if you met a foreigner who could only speak a few words of English and the first thing he said to you was an honest and heartfelt, “I love your country!” Do you think that could be the start of an incredible experience?
We Teach You to be Disarming
All our language lessons include a lesson on being disarming from the very first lesson. Then when you read our articles on how to learn any language you’ll learn the tips and hints that will quickly help you turn total strangers into life long friends.
Admit It, You’re Learning Spanish for Love
You see language learning is always about love. It’s not always about romantic love, but it’s always about love. If you don’t believe me consider the opposite thought. “We hate you bastards, now teach us your language!”
Today you are learning Spanish because you have found something worthy of love in Mexican or other Spanish speaking people you have met. The people you’ve met are wonderful and you want to learn their language because you love them.
When People Know You Love Them Amazing Things Happen
When you go to the work of learning Spanish and then you tell someone in his own language that you love his country (and you do or you wouldn’t be reading this) I promise you, you will have incredibly pleasant experiences.
And that’s what we mean by incredibly pleasant language learning.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:30 until 10:00 a.m. and again from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Video Update #5 – Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
November 2, 2012 Spanish study update:
Here’s what I’ve done so far and you can do it too. I’ve learned 600 phrases of Spanish in the last 5 weeks.
I’m not a super genius with language. All I’ve done is study for two 30 minute sessions with no interruptions, every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and that’s essentially all I have done.
I haven’t studied any longer, I’m a busy guy!
I’ve studied for an extra half hour on several days (like today) to make up for ineffective study when I was tired. What’s made this work is good software combined with amazing motivation.
So how can you motivate yourself?
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 11:10 until 11:40 a.m. and again from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Admit It — You’re Learning Spanish For Love!
November 3, 2012 Spanish study update:
Can I guess why you’re here? I think you’re here at Language101.com because you’re learning Spanish for love.
Okay maybe it’s not romantic love, maybe it’s love for Hispanic culture or respect for a true friend.
So Why Are We Here?
We’re here to help you learn to say, what you’d love to say in Spanish and to make learning it easier.
That’s our job.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 10:00 until 10:30 a.m. and again from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m.
How to Make Sure You Study Spanish
November 5, 2012 Spanish study update:
The most common reason for failing to learn Spanish or any new language is failure to study. So how can you make yourself study a language consistently over many weeks?
Make Your Language Learning Stickk
I’m usually quite a slacker. However in the last five weeks I have remarkably stuck to my Spanish study goal of one hour per day. I haven’t missed any days.
The main reason I haven’t missed any study days is that I made a public commitment to study daily and I would look silly if I missed.
Fortunately people have developed web sites to help you reach long term goals like learning Spanish.
A Good Study System Plus Commitment
To learn a language well, you need a good study system plus commitment. At Language101.com we can supply a good system to help you learn Spanish. I recommend that you first buy one of our Spanish plans that is right for you.
Then if you think you will have a hard time keeping your commitment to study (and this is a common problem) you might want to check out the web site Stickk. It may be what you need to keep your commitment.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:00 a.m. until 9:30 and from 4:30 p.m. until 5:00.
Do You Usually Vote? or ¿Acostumbras votar? in Spanish
November 6, 2012 Spanish study update:
As I write this, the American presidential election is being held. Of course this is a good reason to learn another Spanish phrase.
How about learning the Spanish phrase “Do you usually vote?” Here’s how to do it.
After you click on this link you will be able to scroll down to line 13 where you will find the phrase ¿Acostumbras votar? It’s a real Spanish tongue twister.
Of course you will be able to play the audio both at normal speed and as in all of our lessons, very slowly.
Doing That is Not How You Learn Things Here
If you aren’t already a customer, you may not know that looking at lessons in that way is fun, but it’s not a good way to learn the material. After you become a customer you will be able to add that lesson to your study plan and then you will learn it in a way that looks just like the free “Try It” lesson.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 10:00 a.m. until 10:30 and from 4:00 p.m. until 4:30.
How to Tell When to Stop Studying
November 7, 2012 Spanish study update:
How long should you study? Wait here’s a much better question. “How long do the designers of the Spanish learning software you are using want you to study so you can learn the fastest?”
Here’s the answer . . .
Study Until You Have Reviewed Everything At Least Once
As you study, the grades you give yourself schedule the items for review at various times in the future. As you get better at each phrase you will give yourself better grades and the next scheduled study time will move further into the future.
We want you to study until you have reviewed everything that you have already studied at least once and are starting to get new phrases.
Here’s how to tell if you have done that. Before you start and when you finish your study for the day, take a look at your My Home Page. You have to be logged in or your can’t see this page.
The key sentence here is the last one. It says something like “You have reviewed 130 of these items and 54 of them are due for study now.” The numbers will change depending on how much you have studied. Keep studying until the second number gets to zero or close to it.
Obviously, if your time is up or you get tired, then you have to quit. But ideally, it would be best if at least once per day you could study until this number goes to zero.
How Long Does This Take?
If you are studying fast and long it’s possible to add a new lesson every day. However if you are working on a difficult lesson or studying for shorter periods of time, it can take several days to add a new lesson.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 10:30 a.m. until 11:00 and from 5:00 p.m. until 5:30. My morning study was not very effective due to distractions.
Video Update #6 – Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
November 8 to 9, 2012 Spanish study update:
As of today November 9, 2012 I have studied 719 Spanish phrases. Some of them I just added this morning (and they aren’t very solid) and some I added six weeks ago and I know them quite well.
I studied the Spanish alphabet, and a grammar lesson which was much slower for me than our other lessons. In retrospect I probably should have skipped these for now.
Today I also shopped at a Mexican supermarket and patronized some Mexican run businesses in my area to get a chance to practice Spanish.
Spanish Study Summary: Yesterday I studied Spanish for about four hours total and then went out for dinner to a Mexican restaurant with a Spanish teacher. Today I studied Spanish from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. and again from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Easy Lessons and Hard Lessons
November 10, 2012 Spanish study update:
Some lessons are easy and some are hard. Last week my lessons were hard and today they were easy. Here’s why…
Similar Sounds Interfere in Your Brain
Last week I studied several grammar lessons and they were much more difficult for me than a lesson based on ordinary conversation. These lessons were particularly difficult because they contain many different forms of the same word which sound quite a lot alike. This can lead to confusion and much slower learning than necessary.
A Partial Solution
If you are having difficultly learning similar sounding phrases I have several suggestions.
1. If you aren’t sure of the answer never say it wrong. Hit the “I don’t know” button and say it after the teacher.
2. Make liberal use of the “Try This Again Tomorrow” button to move one of the interfering phrases off to tomorrow.
3. If you have two very similar phrases, grade youself perfect on one of them (if if you didn’t know it at all) that will move it apart in time and give you time to learn the other one well first.
This afternoon I did the Travel Spanish lesson and it was quite easy for me. I think the main reason it was easy was that I was only learning one or two new words per phrase.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 10:00 a.m. until 10:30 and from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30.
Studying Spanish on the Airlines
November 11, 2012 Spanish study update:
Do you fly a lot? If so you may want to use some of your time aloft to learn Spanish. Here’s how to use your airport and airplane time to learn Spanish.
Pick an Airline That Caters to Spanish Speakers
Today I took a very pleasant flight on Southwest Airlines. Since they have so many Spanish speaking customers, really important things like the exits [salida in Spanish] are marked in both English and Spanish.
Also in their inflight magazine “Spirit” on page 12 was a thank you message from Southwest Chairman Gary Kelly and on page 14 they had the same message in Spanish.
I had a lot of fun slowly reading through the Spanish version while referring back to the English version to help figure it out.
Get Noise Cancelling Headphones
Southwest and many other airlines now have in-flight wi-fi service for very reasonable prices so you could study while aloft. I find the airplane noise interferes quite a bit with my study unless I am using big over the ear, active noise canceling headphones. Bose and other companies make these headphones. Make sure you get the big over the ear style, not the smaller style that doesn’t quite cover your ears.
Study at the Gate While You Wait
Current security regulations force travelers to arrive at the gate up to an hour early. This morning I used some of my waiting at the gate time to study Spanish. I used a Verizon wireless network card to access the internet.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 7:30 a.m. until 8:00 and from 5:00 p.m. until 5:45.
Why the City of “Yellow Texas” Will Make Your Spanish Learning Easier
November 12, 2012 Spanish study update:
You know more Spanish words than you think you do. For example, have you ever heard of Amarillo Texas? Well amarillo is the Spanish word for yellow. Of course you will want to learn how to pronounce it right by scrolling down to phrase 9 of our colors in Spanish lesson, it’s much easier to learn a new pronunciation and attach a new meaning to something you already know than it is to learn something entirely new.
More Spanish Words You Know
Ever hear of the city of El Segundo California, near Los Angeles? In Spanish el segundo means “the second.” In the case of el segundo, the typical American pronunciation is essentially the same as the Mexican pronunciation.
“When When When” by Engelbert Humperdinck
Somewhere in an elevator near you the song below is probably playing. I had heard the song, thought it sounded nice and figured that cuando was something in Spanish but I didn’t know what.
Now I know that cuando means when (and the pronunciation from the song is perfect), I just had to learn what cuando meant and the song now makes a lot more sense. Here’s the first stanza.
Tell me when will you be mine
Tell me cuando cuando cuando
We can share a love divine
Please don’t make me wait again.
Every time you find a Spanish word that you perhaps had already heard, but didn’t know what it meant in Spanish it’s time to celebrate. The more you already know, the less you’ll have to learn.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:00 a.m. until 9:30 and from 5:00 p.m. until 5:45.
Shopping at a Mexican Market
November 13, 2012 Spanish study update:
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 10:00 a.m. until 10:30 and from 5:00 p.m. until 5:30. I also bought steak at a Mexican Supermarcado (in Spanish) and several other things (in Spanish) at another Mexican market.
Talking About Your Family in Spanish
November 14, 2012 Spanish study update:
You may want to learn how to talk about your family in Spanish.
Mexicans Ask Things that Americans Don’t
You may notice phrase like line 6 ¿Donde naciste? or Where were you born? American’s don’t usually ask this, but it’s a common question in Mexico so you may want to learn it.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I missed my morning session due to an anticipated 1 hour morning trip taking 3 hours. I studied in the evening from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m.
To Mexico Tomorrow
November 15, 2012 Spanish study update:
Is this working? Am I really learning Spanish that I can use? There is one good way to find that out. That is by flying to Mexico and talking Spanish as much as I can.
Study and Practice
For the last seven weeks I have studied Spanish using the Language101.com software for an hour every day. I’ve tried to talk Spanish every chance I got, but I really haven’t gotten very many opportunities to talk Spanish.
It’s time to put what I’ve learned to the test so I’m flying to Cabo San Lucas (at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula) tomorrow and until Monday I plan to talk nothing but Spanish. What fun! or as I will be saying tomorrow Muy Divertido!
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:00 a.m. until 9:45 and from 5:30 p.m. until 6:00.
Mexico (Cabo San Lucas) Today!
November 16, 2012 Spanish study update:
A lot of Americans want to learn Spanish for travel to Mexico. So after seven weeks of one hour per day study, can I speak Spanish?
Areas of Mastery, Stumbling and Blank Spots
I have some types of conversations mastered. For example I can have a typical introductory conversation with all the likely variations. In other areas, I know one of many possible ways to say something. I’d call this stumbling. The blank spots are areas that I just haven’t gotten to at all.
Why Mexico — Why Now?
The purpose of coming here is to test our Spanish course. Does it give you what you need for a vacation to Mexico? So far it looks pretty good.
The other purpose is to test our courses for areas of Spanish learning that we may have accidentally omitted? Unfortunately we didn’t have any lesson that covered the important Spanish words for “I know” and “I don’t know.” Edgar will be adding a lesson that covers this soon.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish for about ten minutes on a U.S. Airways flight to Cabo San Lucas. I would have studied longer but at first the in flight internet didn’t work then it quit working when we flew into over Mexico and away from the ground stations.
The good thing is that I have gotten a lot of Spanish practice in since arriving in Mexico.
No Video Update #7 – Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
November 17, 2012 Spanish study update:
I just got a good video update done and have been unable to upload it because the internet upload speeds are slow. The video may have to wait until I get back to Arizona on Monday.
Study and Practice
Both study and practice are very important. I’ve done an excellent job of consistently studying Spanish (for the last 7 weeks) and have not done as well as I would have liked to in finding Spanish speakers to talk to and talking.
That’s why I’m here now.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 9:00 a.m. until 9:45 and then practiced with a Spanish teacher from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. I also took every chance I could to talk with anyone else in Spanish I could find.
Learning Spanish in Cabo San Lucas
November 18, 2012 Spanish study update:
Spanish teachers are wonderful! Today I spent four hours talking Spanish with a great Spanish teacher. Here’s how it went.
Immersing Myself in Spanish in Mexico
We met at 10:00 a.m. at my excellent, highly recommended hotel in Cabo San Lucas and sat by the pool talking Spanish. I tried to work my entire Spanish vocabulary into the conversation and she gently corrected me when I made mistakes.
My teacher’s two charming daughters, ages 8 and 4 were there too. Fortunately I had studied all our lessons on talking to children and I was able to talk to them.
After a couple of hours, her husband met us and we went shopping at stores that serve mostly Mexicans not Americans. Every time we talked to a clerk in a store I did the talking. My teacher would help me when either I made a mistake or asked for help.
After our shopping trip we went out to eat at a great authentic Mexican restaurant and finally returned to my hotel about 2:00 p.m.
It was an excellent use of my time. I know enough words and phrases to be conversant in Spanish. And while I know the context in which I learned each word, there are often many more ways to use the word than I have learned.
Learning How to Use What I Already Know
Today was an effective day of practice. The big blocks of time I spent yesterday and today with a Spanish teacher have been extremely helpful as I am becoming more proficient in Spanish. However this would not have been a good use of my time if I hadn’t already spent a lot of time studying using the Language101.com software.
Spending an occasionally day with a tutor or teacher without having a way for retaining what you have learned is a waste of time.
So first put in some time studying, then get out there and practice your Spanish. Don’t wait as long as I did to start talking it. Start by learning disarming phrases and use them after your first day of study.
Spanish Study Summary: Today I used the Language101.com Spanish program for only a few minutes in the morning.
Video Update #7 – Learn Spanish in 8 Weeks!
November 20 – 22, 2012 Spanish study update:
So how am I doing in Spanish after 7 weeks of studying for an hour per day? Well enough to have a really good time talking Spanish in Mexico for a long weekend.
Well enough to buy things, negotiate prices, and compliment the locals. Well enough to be disarming, well enough to apologize in Spanish when a security guy told me I had taken pictures in an unauthorized place, well enough to check in for my airline flight in Spanish, and understand it.
I have intentionally skipped some things. For example, I haven’t learned the names of knives, forks and spoons. I will get to that next. We will be adding more lessons soon based on my notes of what I needed and hadn’t yet learned.
Yeah, pretty fun!
Spanish Study Summary: November 20, I missed my morning session and unfortunately I don’t have a good excuse. (smile) So I studied in the evening from 8:45 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. November 21, I studied from 11:30 a.m. until noon and from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. On November 22, I studied from 11:00 a.m. until 11:30. a.m.
Video: How Much Spanish Did I Learn in 8 Weeks?
November 23, 2012 Spanish Study Update:
Eight weeks ago, I could count to five in Spanish and say, “How are you?” and “Thank you very much.” Today I can carry on several different types of conversations in Spanish.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
I Know What I Know
According to the Language101.com “My Home Page” (a page that only logged in users can see) I have reviewed 871 phrases and I have studied 44 out of over 80 Spanish lessons that we have published.
Obviously, I don’t yet know the phrases well that I added this morning, however I probably am quite solid on about 770 phrases. It’s fun to know how much you know.
Areas of Competence
I feel pretty comfortable with introductory conversations both formal and informal. I can ask and answer common questions about where are you from, what do you do, are you married, are you single, do you have children, how many, what are their names etc.
Power Language — Talking With Spanish Teachers
We have several lessons on talking with teachers and tutors in Spanish and I have studied them all. This means I can talk to a teacher and keep the conversation almost entirely in Spanish. This makes it fun to spend time working with a teacher or tutor. We will be adding another lesson on talking with teachers about Spanish grammar this week.
Eating Out in Spanish
I have this pretty well mastered too. Not that I understand everything on the menu, but I can ask for the menu, ask for recommendations, understand them, order beer 5 different ways (and I don’t drink). I know the names of beef, pork, fish, seafood and many different Mexican dishes along with being able to say I like them or don’t like them in several different ways.
Some Knowledge But Not Mastery
I learned a little bit in many different areas. For example while I can ask for and understand basic directions, I haven’t mastered directions. We will add more lessons on this soon. Things like doctor visits, I know a little bit about, but I haven’t mastered. If I was sick, I could say, I need a doctor, but I wouldn’t be able to describe what was wrong or what hurt.
What I Still Need to Learn
I went to Mexico last weekend in part to test for areas that are important, but that we accidentally haven’t covered in our lessons. Yes, I found some. The words for man and woman along with some of the different names for adolescents, girls and boys were missing. That was embarrassing. We will add another beginners lesson that covers these important words this week.
We also don’t yet have a good lesson about talking about future plans and past experiences. We will probably add a separate lesson on each of these this week.
I’ve Done Half of Our Lessons and I can Speak Basic Spanish!
For me this is exciting. I’m not a genius with this languages, I have to work hard at learning, but I have a good system. It worked well for me and it can work well for you too. I only spent 8 weeks studying Spanish for an hour a day and very little extra practice outside of my study time. While I recommend and needed a lot more practice, I think my results are typical for for anyone who puts in uninterrupted study time, and carefully follows our video instructions.
So try our free demo and see how you like it!
Spanish Study Summary: Today I studied Spanish from 8:00 a.m. until 8:30 and from 5:00 p.m. until 5:35.
Vidoe Update: Why You Need Accountability
Spanish study update:
If you are really going to learn Spanish, you have to be accountable to someone who matters to you and who will support you.
When I did this I learned a lot. When I didn’t do this I didn’t learn much.
We Will Try to Help
If you are a customer we will try to help you find a Spanish study buddy. Please contact us and make the subject line be Study Buddy.
So How Am I Doing?
I’m back in the routine of daily Spanish study. I also have a study buddy. By study buddy, I don’t mean someone to study with, I mean someone to be accountable for your study to. Christine and I don’t study together, but we have a short phone call at the same time every day to encourage each other.
Spanish Study Summary: For the last week I have been studying Spanish for an hour every day. Today I studied in the morning from 10:30 until 11:00 a.m. and again in the evening (when I was feeling alert) from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m.