Using iTalki to improve my Spanish

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When I was in a teenager, I used to study French in school. I don’t really remember much of it except that we used to have a teacher who was constantly giving out to us.

Then in college my course offered 3 years of either studying Spanish or French. Of course I went for the French option as I had studied that before.

Again, I don’t remember much from it, except I was always the worst in the class (and there were only 7 students in total!) and being taught new grammar that I never had a clue what it was about. I remember looking at the grammar and thinking “I don’t have a clue what I’m reading or studying!”

One thing I do remember though was one day the lecturer told us to write something in french on the computers in the classroom. I remember I wasn’t able to do it so I started using Google Translate to translate what I wanted. I made sure the lecturer couldn’t see me do this.

However little did I know was that she could see what everyone was doing through her own computer! I forget what she said to me but I remember I was so embarrassed and I definitely didn’t try it again!

So in my last year of college we didn’t have to study French and I was so happy about it: I really didn’t do well in it and I just managed to scrape a pass in it.

So that was the deal with French.

Then I decided to study Chinese! One of the hardest languages in the world to learn! My experience with French must have been erased from my head or something! So you can imagine how much I…. ehm…. learned. . .

So I studied and my listening and reading did actually improve. I could understand exactly what the teachers were talking about and I was able to read children’s stories in Chinese. Speaking was a problem though and I fumbled my 5 years in China just being able to use survival Chinese.

But then…… my boyfriend/now husband arrived on the scene. This time Spanish was all the rage in my world!

While I was in China I really didn’t study much Spanish. I didn’t need to use it in my daily life so it was hard for me to get the motivation to study. At home my husband used to speak really simple sentences to me, like “I want to eat noodles.”

I remember he would say something to me in Spanish in a really romantic way and I would think “Oh I wonder what he is saying, he sounds so romantic!”

“I want to eat eggs for breakfast tomorrow”

No…. that was SO NOT romantic! I remember he used to do that to me a few times and I never knew what the hell he was saying! He always used to laugh when I found out what he was saying!

I remember walking down the streets and he would try to explain something in Spanish.

I remember sitting outside a restaurant waiting for our food to be ready and I would try to speak a little.

When we were on the bus going to a plaza nearby he would get me to translate really simple sentences into Spanish, like “I eat apples everyday when I am at work”.

I also remember being on the bus and he would send voice messages in Spanish to his friends and I would try and pick up what he was saying.

Those are my experiences of learning Spanish when I was in China.

In Mexico I really did improve a lot. Because classes were expensive there I studied by myself. I could understand what my husbands family were talking about and I could join in on more conversations. My speaking really wasn’t great though, but I do remember my listening got much better!

After I moved back to Ireland I was busy with my course and Spanish went out the window. I didn’t speak for months and It felt like everything that I learned in Mexico had just disappeared! So in January 2020 I joined iTalki and I had a class with a woman from Mexico.

I was really nervous because I hadn’t spoken to anyone in Spanish for a long long time, and I forgot loads! The class was good but I felt I didn’t really connect with the lady. I didn’t take another iTalki class until May when I started studying Spanish again.

I had another class with another woman from Mexico and although she was nice I felt like I was carrying the conversations. When you are learning a language it should be the teacher who leads the conversations, however with the class I had with the woman, I felt it was my responsibility to lead.

I looked again and I found a lady that seemed nice and since then I have had 8 classes in total with her. Again she is from Mexico and she is really nice and I feel comfortable talking to her! So I have classes with her but also I take classes with another woman as well. I enjoy both of their classes and I don’t feel under pressure to think of things to talk about!

Ideally I would like to have 3 classes a week, 60 minutes each, but sometimes they don’t have time because their schedule is full and sometimes I’m just lazy!

Speaking with them has definitely helped with my speaking, and I love it because it’s really flexible: Because the teachers set their own cost, I can choose how much I would like to pay, I can choose what time I would like to have class at, and I can choose how many classes I want each week. If I want I can schedule a class tomorrow at a certain time (if they are available at that time) and I can explain to them what I would like to talk about/study.

Speaking is one thing I do want to improve on a lot. I want to gain the confidence to be able to speak well and know that I can hold a conversation. My problem is when I am nervous all my Spanish goes out the window and I end up making really really silly/basic mistakes!

I’ve been thinking about searching for another teacher so that I can practice with 3 people, but I don’t know if that will confuse me! I get confused about what topics I’ve talked about with the two teachers that I have so having a 3rd would make it even more complicated for me!

But anyway, I really enjoy iTalki and even though sometimes I don’t be in the mood for a class, but once I’m done I feel happy with myself!

Aisling

Oh and this isn’t a sponsored blog by iTalki!  I definitely DO NOT have enough followers to even dream of that! I just think it’s a great site and it has helped me a lot!

 

Moving Up A Level In Spanish

In one of my other blog posts I wrote about starting an online Spanish class during the week, and about 2 weeks ago I had my first ‘real’ Spanish test!

This including a listening, writing, reading and a speaking part…. and although I passed, I definitely learned a few things from it!

First of all: read the questions!

Unfortunately I didn’t read the questions for 2 parts of it, so I ended up filling in one bit of it wrong and I lost quite a lot of marks for it. I was supposed to write the grammar (yo comí)- I ate, or (yo he comido)- I have eaten in the 10 sentences. But me being me didn’t read the question right and I put all comí, bebí. So marks were lost for that.

Also for another part I didn’t read it thoroughly enough and I lost marks for that! So although I passed, if I concentrated a bit more I would have done better. So I was a bit annoyed at myself as I felt that I deserved a better mark, especially as I had studied everyday before the exam and what not. But I remind myself that it was my first Spanish exam and that it was something to learn from.

The listening was also very hard and I know I only knew 1 answer, however by luck I got 4/6 right! I was surprised with that though because I really do spend a lot of time listening and watching things in Spanish. I thought my listening would be better than that but the audio was very difficult though which didn’t help. I started to spend more time listening to a Spanish radio station half an hour before I sleep to help me improve my listening. I use the website ‘Radio Garden’ and it’s great to listen to the radio from whatever country you want!

Finally I had my speaking test and the teacher said that I got the best score out of the class. She pretended that she was a tour agency and I was looking to book somewhere on holiday. I take italki classes (which I HIGHLY recommend) so although I felt nervous at the beginning, once I started it was a breeze then!

So that was the level A2 in the school, so now I’m in the B1 class, and I can see a difference in it already. Now I have never done the official DELE exam so I’m probably still on A2 with that, especially as I’ve never studied for that so I would have take the time to study the layout and the type of questions they ask.

But in the online class, I can see that there is a difference between the A2 and the B1 book. There are a lot larger reading sections in the B1 book and not many smaller exercises to do. I feel we are also speaking a lot more in the class about what we read together.

Another thing we are concentrating on is the Subjunctive. This is grammar which is quite difficult as in English we don’t have it. We only started a few days ago so my teacher said that for the whole course of B1 we will be going through this grammar!

I’ve actually learned loads of grammar the past few weeks. I noticed this recently because I decided to buy a book to start writing a daily diary in Spanish, and when I wrote in it a few days ago my husband was surprised to see that I didn’t have many mistakes. I wrote one while I was in Mexico and there were a lot more errors throughout, so I was happy with that.

Also when I’m reading or watching something I can pick out the grammar and know that that that type of conjugation means.

I’ll keep doing the course until the end of August (that’s the plan anyway) and then after that I’m not sure as I may decide to do another course in the college that I attended. I would love to keep studying my Spanish full time but unfortunately that probably won’t be possible after August. I’ll really miss having the classes every morning as I really do feel I improved and I would love to dedicate myself to it more. I’m afraid in case I forget everything that I learned and I would have to start from scratch all over again. That happened to me when I arrived back in Ireland, so it was a struggle remembering all those words that were full of dust in my head!

But I’ll try and enjoy the weeks that I have left and hopefully I’ll get a grip of this new grammar that we will be studying!

Aisling