First impressions of Notes in Spanish podcast (Day 26 of month 2)

Now that I’m done with Coffee Break Spanish I’m trying out different podcasts. First I listened to three episodes of Notes in Spanish Inspired Beginners.

So the level of Notes in Spanish Inspired Beginners feels appropriate for me after going through Coffee Break Spanish podcast, however it is definitely not an absolute beginner’s or even beginner’s podcast. I would not use that as the first podcast. They assume you already are at some basic level. They are introducing lots of new vocabulary in each episode. There is barely any repetition so I don’t think you would learn new vocabulary effectively. But it is great for acquiring passive vocabulary. The format of the podcast is first introduction of new vocabulary and then a dialog. Each episode is about 15 minutes long. As of now there are 30 Inspired Beginners episodes, 46 Intermediate episodes and 96 Advanced episodes.

Few of the words and phrases covered in the first three episodes: Mebola (love it), qué rollo (boring), ir de marcha (to go out for nightlife), vaya, vaya (oh dear, what a pity), dondé está la marcha? (where is the nightlife?).

On this day I managed to get in 74 minutes of Spanish. Here is the breakdown:
48 Notes in Spanish Inspired Beginners episodes 1-3
5 Duolingo
21 Memrise

Till tomorrow!

Finally done with the 80 episodes of Coffee Break Spanish (Day 25 of month 2)

When I started with learning Spanish and listening to the Coffee Break Spanish podcast I didn’t actually think that I would ever finish all of the episodes. I first started with a month long mission, then had so much fun that I decided to continue and now I’m done with the 80 episodes of the original Coffee Break Spanish podcast. It took me almost two months with almost 1.5 episodes per day on average.

I think I have now graduated onto intermediate podcasts 🙂 I will try out first couple episodes of few of them and then I will decide with which one of them to stick to for a while.

Yesterday I had quite a bit of time to kill and instead of spending it on Facebook and browsing web I did Memrise for total of about 50 minutes. Here is the full breakdown of total of 127 minutes:
5 watching cartoon
5 Duolingo
65 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 78-80
52 Memrise

Till tomorrow!

Learning Spanish: How is the Duolingo +Memrise combo working? (Day 24 of month 2)

Some time ago I posted how I found a Memrise course that teaches the vocabulary covered in Duolingo Spanish tree and planned to use study it. I thought I would give an update.

I like learning Duolingo with the accompanying Memrise-Duolingo course. I wish I had discovered it earlier. The Memrise course contains lessons with vocabulary covered in Duolingo tree with the same breakdown in topics as Duolingo has plus few bonus lessons.

My method is to first learn relevant memrise topic for the upcoming Duolingo topic. So for example, I’m doing the topic on Adjectives on Memrise before doing the same topic on Duolingo. This is more efficient because it is faster to learn vocabulary with Memrise because you either have to tap the word or phrase in multiple choice question or spell it, whereas on memrise to learn or review a word you have to spell out the whole sentence, which can get tedious. Plus if you lose all hearts during a session, you have to repeat those same sentences, which can get boring.

Then when it is time for the Duolingo session I’m more likely to finish it with fewer with mistakes. Also I’m using less hints this way (in Duolingo you can tap on the word and see the translation), and I learn better because I’m spending more time thinking about what is the correct answer instead of immediately looking up the hint.

So if you follow the Duolingo Spanish tree, I highly recommend Memrise’s Duolingo vocabulary counterpart. Here is the part I of the course, and here is the part 2.

Yesterday I managed to get in over an hour of studying. Here is the breakdown:
6 Duolingo
44 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 76-77
22 Memrise

Till tomorrow!

Learning Spanish through cartoons (Days 22-23 of month 2)

I just discovered Spanish stories for children on Youtube by BookBox. BookBox creates videos of animated children’s cartoons with a narrator telling a story in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. (They have other languages too). They are perfect for beginner learners. I like that I can hear the words and see their spelling at the same time. I did understand the storyline, but there were still plenty of words I didn’t know the meaning of. However, I’m not planning on looking up every single world. I think that way it would become tedious and I would lose interest. Besides, the words that I did recognize I learned using Memrise, so I will just keep learning vocabulary using Memrise.

Nowadays I’m managing to get in 3 Coffee Break Spanish episodes a day! Soon will hit the 80 episode mark! 🙂

Day 22 (of month 2) total of 69 minutes:
5 Duolingo
56 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 70-72
8 Memrise

Day 23 (of month 2) total of 80 minutes:
6 watching video
4 Duolingo
66 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 73-75
4 Memrise

Till tomorrow!

Learning Spanish: Week 7 progress

Another week of studying Spanish has passed. Intuitively it feels I have made progress this past week. I think that’s all thanks to Coffee Break Spanish. It’s so exciting that I’m almost done with the first two seasons of this podcast, which is 80 episodes. Can’t wait to start other intermediate level podcasts after that. Originally there was a Show Time Spanish podcast after the initial Coffee Break Spanish series, but over time they have rebranded first 40 episodes as season 1, the second 40 episodes as season 2, and the Show Time Spanish is now season 3 of Coffee Break Spanish.

This week I noticed that I’m very comfortable with speaking simple phrases. Even if somebody doesn’t speak Spanish, but the topic comes up, I still say few sentences in Spanish. I think that’s a great start – then later when coming across Spanish speakers I will be more likely to default in speaking Spanish and continue the conversation in Spanish.

This week all focus was on Coffee Break Spanish as I was so close to the end of first 2 seasons; but I still kept Duolingo streak and a bit of memrise every day.

Here are the numbers. Total time spent studying: 426 minutes or 7h:6m or on average 1h:1m per day. Here is the breakdown:

– Memrise: 123 minutes. In total 770 items in long term memory (vs 730 last week). All new items learned are in the Memrise Duolingo course
– Duolingo: 49 minutes. Still keeping the streak with mostly one learning session or 10 points a day. Current total 1293 XP points (from 1220 last week). Still at level 8. (at lesson Adverbs 10/10).
– Coffee Break Spanish: 254 minutes or over 4 hours and I covered 13 new episodes: 57 to 69.

Highlights of the week:

– I have been able to keep up the Duolingo streak.

– I studied more than half an hour each day.

–  I’m so close to being done with the original Coffee Break Spanish course (80 episodes).

Lowlights of the week:

– Still haven’t written anything in Spanish.

Till tomorrow!

Learning Spanish: Learning things I didn’t expect (day 21 of month 2)

In episode 70 of Coffee Break Spanish I learned how to answer the telephone in Spanish – “Soy Diana.” That literally means “I am Diana”. I learned something else as well. The standard phrase for that in English (or at least in Scottish English as per Mark, the podcast host) is: “It is Diana.” as in “It is Diana who is phoning”.

Now it makes sense.. why quite a lot of times I would have to repeat myself when making a phone call. Because in my native language you answer phone with more like the way in Spanish rather than in English. So over the years I have used a rotating set of wrong phrases. Well now I know!

This is not the first time this has happened to me. I’m from Latvia, but I went to university in United States. I took French for 2 years. One of the classes I took was advanced French with emphasis on French culture. The funny thing is, I actually learned more about the American culture than the French. This is because I saw from what perspective Americans approached French culture which I was a bit more familiar with because I’m from Europe. I saw what they found weird about the French culture that to me seemed normal.

So, if you are living in a foreign culture and want to learn more about their culture, try taking a class with them about some other culture that you are more familiar with. You may be surprised. 🙂

As for Day 21 of month two, I got in 85 minutes. Here is the breakdown:
5  Duolingo
69 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 67-69
11 Memrise

Till tomorrow!

Learning Spanish: Motivation of the finish line (day 20 of month 2)

In total there are 80 Coffee Break Spanish podcast episodes. I’m currently at 66. So close! Somehow I feel that after finishing that I will have graduated from absolute beginners. I get really motivated by finishing and achieving goals. So now I spend more of my study time listening to Coffee Break Spanish and I try to utilize even more time, for example while making and eating breakfast.

So yesterday I managed to listen to 3 episodes. Here is the breakdown of total of 68 minutes:
4 Duolingo
55 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 64-66
9 Memrise

Till tomorrow!

Learning Spanish: On Inertia (Days 15-19 of month 2)

Do you sometimes get that feeling of resistance of doing something that you have procrastinated for a while? The longer you have procrastinated the harder it is to do it. Law of inertia in action. Fortunately it goes both ways. If object is in motion, it will continue to do so if there is no friction. The same is with action. If you have a habit doing something then you will just automatically keep doing it barring normal circumstances (ie. no friction).

This is exactly what happened with me. Last weekend I spent with friends at Big Sur with no cell reception, very limited wifi-connection and not much time on my own.

I still managed to get in my minimum of half an hour per day. I was well prepared with offline Memrise courses and downloaded podcast episodes.

So when Monday came around and I was at my regular schedule I got right back into my Spanish studying habits and got quite a lot of minutes in.

Here is the breakdown:

Day 15 (Thursday) total of 32 minutes:
4 Duolingo
28 Memrise

Day 16 (Friday) total of 52 minutes:
4 Duolingo
35 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 57-58
14 Memrise

Day 17 (Saturday) total of 30 minutes:
8 Duolingo
22 Memrise

Day 18 (Sunday) total of 33 minutes:
11 Duolingo
22 Memrise

Day 19 (Monday) total of 125 minutes:
13 Duolingo
95 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 59-63
17 Memrise

Till tomorrow!

Learning Spanish: Week 6 Progress

Last week was great! I made more progress last week than the week before. For me that is what is important – making progress and striving to be tiny bit better than the day or week before. Eventually all that progress will add up. The progress was both qualitative and quantitative.

I finally learned about the past tense. I guess you could look at it as the universe of things I can say just doubled in size as I can now say things I’m able to say in present, in the past as well. 🙂

In total I studied 8 hours and 10 minutes versus 6 hours 27 minutes the previous week, or 70 minutes per day versus 55 minutes a day in the week before.

Here is the breakdown:

  • 170 minutes on Memrise compared to 112 minutes on Memrise last week. Total number of items in long term memory is 730 with 71 new items in the frequency list course (current total 185) and 113 new in Memrise Duolingo course
  • 82 minutes on Duolingo. Currently 1220 XP points at Level 8 and at lesson Adverbs 4/10. (Previous week 1094 XP points)
  • 228 minutes of Coffee Break Spanish in which I listened to 11 new episodes (episodes 46 to 56).

Highlights of the week:

  • I have been able to keep up the Duolingo streak. 
  • I studied more than half an hour each day.
  • I got in more practice on Memrise (from average 16 to 24 minutes per day).

Lowlights of the week:

  • I wanted to write few paragraphs in Spanish, but did not get to it.
That’s all for now.

Learning Spanish – past tense (Day 14 of month 2)

The current Coffee Break Spanish episodes 54 to 56 cover the simple past – pretérito. Feels about the right time to introduce these grammar points. I liked how Mark and Kara (the hosts of the podcast) were teaching them, it felt effortless. It was engaging and with lots of repetition, but in the end I feel it stuck.

This day I had quite a bit of walking to do so got in 3 episodes of Coffee Break Spanish. Here is the breakdown:
4   Duolingo
68 Coffee Break Spanish episodes 54-56
31 Memrise

For total of 103 minutes.