Learning Spanish in Mexico: My Study Routine

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I’ve been in Mexico since October and I’ve tried to keep studying my Spanish and talking in Spanish as much as I can. But it’s hard sometimes!

Usually my daily routine goes like this:

In the morning I’d usually do 2 wheels from Duolingo. It’s not too taxing for me in the morning and I like seeing how my wheels change colour when I’ve studied them. I’m going down my tree turning every wheel one colour, so the whole tree will be green/blue….. Then I go back up to the top and start turning them another colour. It depends on the theme/ grammar point in each wheel, but usually 2 wheels will take me between 30-45 minutes to complete. (Especially the harder ones which are lower on the tree, also if I keep getting them wrong).

I also sometimes read some Duolingo Stories, but these are really when I’m in the mood. I don’t feel like they help me much for studying, but some stories are interesting to read. 

Then we usually have lunch and I try and speak Spanish, but usually I just eat in silence because I’m not particularly talkative even in English! But this is a good time for some listening practice, as my fiancé and his parents LOVE to talk, so that’s good for my listening! I know I need to work on this though, so I’ll try and make an extra effort in speaking during this time. 

I find that after lunch is the most difficult time to study. I’m tired (maybe due to lunch) and just want to take a nap really! So I end up usually just procrastinating during the hours of 2pm-4pm. So again, another thing I need to improve on. 

Later on in the afternoon I sort of get my energy back up again and I start studying grammar. I have one book called ‘Collins, easy learning; Spanish Grammar & Practice’ and it teaches basic spanish grammar. What I like to do is read every thing that I’ve studied before in the book, and then start a new grammar point. I try and understand it and then do some written exercises which are in the book. I get my fiancé to go through them and explain to me if I got something wrong. 

I have another easier book to use which I switch back and forth. This one is a classroom based book with dialogues and what not. 

It’s starting to get dark outside now and I move onto something else. I’ve set each day of the week (bar 1) where I learn 10 new words . So maybe on Monday I look at my calendar and see I have to learn nouns, so I learn 10 nouns for that day. I have 5 things to learn; nouns, adjectives, verbs, tenses and tense conjugations. So first I will learn my nouns, then I will review everything that I’ve learned from these 5 categories. For example,  I’ve lots of nouns that I’ve already learned so I go back to the beginning and re-read them all. Sometimes It’s boring but I realised I remember pretty much all of them just by reading them everyday. 

The same goes for adjectives and what not.  I think maybe I could push to 20 words per day, so I think I might slowly increase my new vocab. At the beginning I was learning 30 words everyday and by the end, having to learn so many made me dread that time of day! So now 10 is very easy for me. 

So all that takes me a while to do, but It really does help me. I’m not stressing myself if I forget an adjective or tense, because I know I’ll review them tomorrow and the next day, so they will stick one day!

After this, I might dabble a bit with some listening practice by watching YouTube videos. I usually do this sporadically during the day. 

Then, I have a list of questions in Spanish on my computer and I have to write an answer and learn them off by heart. The latest one I learned was ‘Que hiciste ayer?’ …’What did you do yesterday?’. So I try and write it in spanish, and then my fiancé comes and corrects the mistakes. It’s great having him nearby to fix all of my errors! After that I try and learn every sentence off by heart, until I know the whole answer. Sometimes It’s difficult as I’m using tenses that I’ve haven’t studied yet, but I don’t want simple answers, I want answers that are complicated and so I learn new vocab and tenses. 

Sometime during the evening I try and spend an hour speaking with my fiancé about a topic in Spanish. I’m grateful he takes the time out to help me with my spanish, as he’s busy doing his own things. 

I might also use another book which is an Irish exam paper. There are two levels, higher and ordinary,  with higher level being more difficult. In it there are exam papers that student’s do for their Leaving Cert to get into University. Every practice exam paper has stories to read and then questions to answer underneath. I enjoy doing this and I can notice they are getting easier to read, especially when I remember reading them while I was in China! 

Finally, I like to read at night so I downloaded some free spanish kindle books to read. I really enjoy reading so this isn’t a chore for me at all, unless it’s super difficult! I’ve watched some tv shows in Spanish with the family but I lose interest after a while because I just don’t understand anything. Watching a film in Spanish that I’ve already seen before in English helps though, as I already know what it’s about so it’s not as bad. Plus sometimes a programme/film will be in English with Spanish subtitles, which I would rather not watch! 

So anyway, theres my day of learning Spanish. I try and speak Spanish throughout the day but I know I need to stick in extra speaking time, but it’s difficult as I’m not a lover of talking. I know I’d improve faster if I spoke more, so I’ll try and make an extra effort with that. 

Aisling

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Back To School Tomorrow! 我不要去! (I don’t want to go!!)

AAAGGHH….School.Tomorrow! Forget.Everything!

My Chinese has literally disappeared since not attending University. Today was the first time that I opened my books which we will use from tomorrow onwards. . and the first two characters are 从前 and I forgot what they meant. The first two characters!

So that’s definitely not a great start, plus it’s not even a difficult word! It means ‘previously;formerly;once upon a time’ by the way.

Also, getting up earlier than 9am has been a struggle for me lately… never mind having to get up at 7am! I think once this week is done I’ll be used to the early morning… it will also be good to get into a routine again!

Usually I’m really excited to be going back. But this time around not so much. I think it’s due to the fact that my last semesters teachers didn’t put too much pressure on us in class. My reading and writing teacher just went through the story, grammar and vocab, while I listened and took notes. It was an easy class and I knew she wouldn’t ask us anything.

Then my listening and speaking teacher spent most of the time chatting to us, so I wasn’t too worried about having to speak. Good for my listening though!

But now I’ll be having new teachers… and they might actually expect me to do some work in class!  Oh and talk Chinese!

Oh and I also have to laugh at our Chinese books sometimes. Some of the stories in them are quite strange! For previewing my text for tomorrows class, I found out that this weeks lesson is about a donkey which fell into a well…. obviously the owner has no idea how to get it out…. so he decides (because the donkey is old) that he’ll abandon it…. and fill the well with soil.

So he’s going to kill the donkey!!??!!

To me that’s an awful way to deal with this situation! haha I have no idea who came up with this story.

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The story in question

Thankfully though, the donkey found out what the owner was doing, and was clever enough to stand on the soil as they threw it in, so finally there would put enough soil in the well so that the donkey will be able to escape.

So, it ends well at least!

But I’d definitely find a new owner If I was the donkey!

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Poor donkey, nobody wants him

But anyway…. that’s the sort of thing we learn in Chinese class!

I wonder what other weird and wonderful stories I’ll be learning in the next few week!

再见

爱玲