Right before I left for the island of Ometepe, I was at a point of complete frustration with my language learning. While I was able to communicate well with people I knew, I was still a train wreck when it came to talking to people not used to my accent or way of speaking. Although I’d been studying irregular verbs for well over a month, I could never remember the correct conjugation while speaking with somebody. I didn’t feel like I was learning new words or making any progress. I had plateaued and plateaued hard.
Then, my dear friend returned to the country with my new kindle. I downloaded a few primers to get used to reading in spanish. Free downloads are available on kindle that tell fairytales using simple vocabulary. My intent was to read these to further immerse myself in the language. (Yeah, because being in a Spanish speaking country surrounded by Spanish speakers 90% of the time isn’t immersion enough!) Anyway – my good intentions went to the wind when I realized the vocabulary wasn’t quite simple enough for me and I found myself bouncing back and forth to the Spanish dictionary so often that it took me a good half-an-hour to read four sentences. Perhaps with more learning, that will become realistic.
Then something happened while watching t.v. one day. A silly dating show was on – one I’d seen in the states, but this was translated into Spanish. I found myself understanding the people on t.v., despite their rapid clip of speech. “Progress,” I thought. Up until then, I’d been asking friends and acquaintances to slow down for me so I could distinguish between and understand each word. That week while walking around town, I noticed that I could understand almost everything sung out by the street vendors, and the lyrics to songs on the radio, and conversations called out in the street between friends or mammas and children. I’d finally reached the edge of this plateau and again begun to climb the hill of espanol – ole!
I downloaded a couple of books on my kindle to aid me further. At this point, I’d determined that my major weaknesses were verbs and pronouns. I began to feel that I wasn’t learning all that much with my Spanish school that I couldn’t learn on my own – I more felt that the teacher was creating the space and the discipline for me to carve out time to focus and learn. As my free Spanish classes were about to be at thing of the past, I downloaded a few more Kindle books to help me on my way. Spanish Verb Tenses and Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions seemed like the perfect choices. I promised myself to diligently work on these excercise multiple times each week, and I’ve happily been able to keep that promise.
It turns out that these books were exactly what I needed. Each book assumes the reader has a basic Spanish vocabulary down. This saves me time of wading through lessons that are too simple for me. The lessons are short and to the point – usually only a page or two of explanation, followed by multiple pages of writing excercises from answering true/false questions which assist the reader in getting used to seeing the new verb or pronoun in use, to translating sentences and paragraphs. Along the way, I’m picking up new vocabulary as well as refining my speaking skills. It’s amazing how much better my language sounds now that I’m better able to conjugate verbs and use pronouns correctly! I was rewarded with compliments from friends last night who I haven’t seen in weeks on my fast progression with the language.
The ejercios are short – I can get away with only twenty minutes a day – and I couldn’t be happier with the progress. I highly recommend these books to anybody trying to learn or refine their Spanish language skills. I’m only about 30% through each book, and I feel like I’ll be one step closer to fluency by the time I complete the exercises.