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!

 

My Classes Are Helping Me So Much

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It has been 4 weeks since I’ve start my online Spanish course and it has been helping me a lot. Not just with learning Spanish, but just keeping me sane!

With no job on the horizon, I really had to keep busy doing something, and because now I HAVE to get up, it’s has helped me a lot! If I didn’t have my classes I know I would be getting up at 10 or half 10am, and although it’s not late, I can’t sleep at night when I wake up late in the morning. I would dread waking up in the morning and thinking “Another day of doing absolutely nothing”, and that would just set me up for a bad day.

Second reason is that I get homework from both of my teachers, and although it doesn’t take that long to do, it’s something to do! Plus I enjoy the homework because it’s reinforcing what I studied that day.

And finally…. I’m doing something.

That to me is the most important thing. I’m improving myself. I really really want to be able to be fluent in the language. I want to prove to myself that I can do it; that if I put the effort into it then one day I will be able to do the Spanish language exam (DELE) C1 and pass it with flying colours, maybe even become totally native and get C2!

I put so much effort into my one year course that I just completed and I got 98%, 99% and 100% in all of my modules, and I’m proud of myself because I really did put so much effort into the year. I know myself that I’m not gifted in school and that’s ok, but during that year I really wanted to do well and prove to myself that if I put the hard work in then I will be rewarded.

When I got my results it showed me that if I put the effort in then I will do well, or reasonably well anyway, so that’s why I really want to study hard, go to my online classes, take private classes, and just dedicate myself to the language. For the moment anyway. I’m not sure what I will be doing in September but for the moment my goal is to study Spanish.

So….the fact I’m doing something and not making me go literally crazy is my main reason!

I’ve been annoyed at myself for the past two weeks as I seem to making silly mistakes while speaking, but I think it’s just that my mind is getting all muddled up with all this new grammar and new vocabulary that it’s just taking my brain a while to process it all… so hopefully I’ll start seeing improvements soon.

But apart from that I know 100% that the classes are helping me and I’m going to try and keep taking them for as long as possible!

Aisling

Learning Spanish Online

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When I returned to Ireland and started doing a course here, my dedication to Spanish went out the window! I tried to study it when I had time but passing exams and making sure my assignments were handed up in time where my main priorities, so I haven’t really spoken/studied loads of Spanish!

Now that my course is finished, and now that I have loads of time doing nothing because of this pandemic and the lack of jobs, myself and my husband decided that I should start taking online Spanish lessons. I always wanted to get back into it and now is the perfect time to start again. Plus it will keep me busy for a while!

I signed up to AIL Madrid and so far I’m really enjoying it! I started last week for two 50 minute classes each day and there were other students from Australia, China, Tunisia and America. Some were already in Spain but studying online for the time being, and then when they open their school then those students will go back to studying there.

There is a course for 20 classes a week but last week I wanted to try the 10 classes just to see how I liked it and how I would get on. I really enjoyed it so I signed up for the Intensive week, which is 20 classes a week, or 4 classes per day. I start at 8am and finished at 11:50 (Irish time). I could choose an afternoon time but morning is better for me.

Although it isn’t great for speaking practice, the teachers go through grammar, we do exercises together and we read small articles, which is fine by me. I talk with my husband and I’m also planning on starting iTalki again to practise speaking.

Ideally I would love to go to Madrid to live and study there, but these online classes are great and I’m already learning new words and grammar.

The first week I realised suddenly that I really needed to learn my numbers! There were articles with loads of 1876, 1998, 1276 and 1999, and I had to quickly use my phone to look them up in case she asked me to read them…. so I told my husband to write 10 numbers in my notebook and I had to write them out.

This helped a lot and now I’m much better at reading them! Each day he has been writing a list for me and it’s been really beneficial!

I was a bit nervous joining the class because I was afraid in case the class would be too difficult and I wouldn’t be able to join in but thankfully the class is perfect! My speaking is better than the rest, probably because I talk with my husband, but grammar wise I’m on the same level.

So although I’m jobless (still), at least I am keeping myself busy studying and improving myself, so the money spent on the course is definitely worth it in my opinion!

Aisling

Looking To The Future

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With our wedding and my husbands sisters wedding over, we have been thinking of what to do. As I’ve mentioned before, we couldn’t really sort out jobs because we knew we had our wedding coming up, and my parents were also going to be here for 3 weeks, so we knew it would be difficult to get jobs with these on the horizon. So we made the decision to wait until all these events were over to look for jobs.

We are quite open to anything though. (country wise!) Because we are now married, it’s easier for my husband to live in Europe with me. It’s not 100% plain sailing, but it’s much easier than if we weren’t together!

We were talking and we are in agreement that if Mexico doesn’t work then both of us are open to any country really. My sister in law was very excited telling us about Paris and how she could help us get jobs. We are interested of course, but we need to think of the pro’s and con’s of moving to France. But the option is there.

Another option is Spain. My husband has an aunt that lives in Madrid and I’m sure she could help if we decided to move there. Also in Barcelona we know someone who lives there. So we have options.

I would prefer to live in Spain because I’m learning the language, but I won’t say France is off the cards though.

I think the fact that we lived in China makes us feel like we can sort of survive in any country now, because really, if you can live in China then you can pretty much live in any country! It doesn’t feel like such a daunting task, especially if you plan to move to somewhere in Europe.

But anyway, Ireland is the most viable option at the moment. For my husband it’s the easiest way to get to Europe as all he needs is a visa that shows we are together, so it’s very easy.

For Mexico, it’s on the cards but probably not in the city where we are right now. Mexico city has more opportunities, so I would just have to learn to love the city if we decided to move!

So, as always, we are still up in the air with everything….

But the good thing is my spanish is improving!

So yay for that!

Aisling

Crisis At The Airport!

So after our lovely time in Madrid, it was time to head to the airport and catch our flight to Cancun. It was pretty easy getting to the airport actually, we just had to take a metro and then a train to it which were both in the same building. So we arrived a little earlier than anticipated.

We find where to check in and queued, all going great! That was until we arrived at the desk. We give the lady our passports and she asks in Spanish “Do you have your flight out of Mexico?” We said no we didn’t. She then replied (all in Spanish so I couldn’t understand what was happening) that I wouldn’t be allowed to board unless I could show them that I had a flight out of Mexico because I’m not a Mexican citizen.  If not then the staff at the boarding area could deny me upon going on board and I’d be stuck in Madrid all alone! Or that I’d be allowed on the flight but at customs in Mexico they could say “No, you’re not allowed to enter because you’ve no exit flight”. ALSO I would be barred from entering Mexico for 5 years!

Now all this was all IF. They may allow me to board or they may not…. She said it would be best for me to buy one. Of course she works there so if she’s saying this sort of stuff then you usually listen to them!

So…. when we heard all this news we of course got worried! We didn’t know what to do! This has never happened to me before, and I’ve visited Mexico twice before. I did have return flights but they never asked for them. So we thought nothing about not having a flight to leave. (Maybe they can see on their computer if I have a return flight or something?)

The lady at the counter said the only thing we could do is try and book another flight out of Mexico so we can show this to the people. We can try and get a refundable ticket. We were very worried at this stage! Will we manage to book one in time?

Off we went to find somewhere to sit and quickly look for the cheapest flight out of Mexico. We got in contact with my fiancés sister and thanks to her she bought a cheap flight to Dallas for me! We definitely owe her big time!The clock was ticking and we saw that not many people were queuing at the desk now. Hurry up so we can show the lady!

We got the confirmation email and we hurried to show it to the lady at the counter so she could change my status on the computer. We rushed through security and found our way to the gate (which involved having to take a metro… how big is Madrid airport??!)

Our next thing was to line up and then (most likely they will ask to see my flight out of Mexico). I get there, and NOTHING!!! They didn’t ask for anything except for the usual things! AAhh! So after all that and they didn’t even ask for it.

So we got on the flight and landed in Cancun airport.  I went through customs for Mexican people as I was with a Mexican person……. and yet again not one single word about having a flight out of the country! He stamped this and stamped that and off we went! AAhh!

It’s not that we were so much annoyed by all of it, it was just the fact that we were stressed out by that lady at the airport even before we left Madrid. Also thankfully we were able to get refunded the money so I didn’t lose it.  I don’t know whether she was having a bad day and wanted to vent it on us or whatever, but in the end all that she said to us never happened. Was she trying to scare us? (She succeeded!).

But anyway, it all worked out ok for us. I hope that doesn’t happen again. Because what if we couldn’t book any flights? If that was the case would they still have let me board? Would I have made it to Mexico and then they ask me?? I have no idea. I’d like to think that because Mexican people are so friendly, and seeing that I was with a Mexican person (intending to marry him) that they would wave me through. But who knows really.

You really don’t want that sort of stress with airlines and flying. So let’s hope that was just a one time incident!

Aisling

Our (Not So Nice) Hostel

You know when you go onto booking.com and you see all these great hostels at a great price? The location is perfect and it looks like a nice place to stay? Reviews are very good with only a few bad ones? Well sometimes it’s too good to be true.

We were going to stay in Madrid for 10 days as my fiancés Mum and Dad were visiting his Aunty, so we decided to stay longer than usual in order to visit a few places with the parents and also his Aunty.

Well, the hostel wasn’t great to be honest. There was problem after problem with this place, and I was pretty happy to have left!

Usually there might be maybe a few minor problems with hostels. But with this one there were tonnes.

1. No lock on the door.

This means that everyone can just go into your room. This is unusually strange. So then of course one night I hear someone enter the room, hear some footsteps, realise that it’s pitch black and they can’t see anything…. so they decide to leave…..and surprise they leave the door open. So I had to get up and close it then.  I really wasn’t impressed with this at all. It’s really not hard to get locks for the doors.

2. You can’t turn on/off the lights.

Room related again. Another surprising thing is that the only people that can control the lights in every dorm room is the receptionist. So they decide the time. It depends on who is working during the night shift, but the lights could turn off at 9:30pm, 10:30pm, 11:05pm or even after 12:00am. In this case the receptionist actually forget they were on……

I can’t understand why we don’t have control of the light swtich?

3. No control over the air-con

Another room one for you! Once again the receptionist is in charge of the air-con. Every night we have to go and ask them to turn it on. The third night we were there I woke up at 5am literally sweating! I was wondering why I was so hot. Sure enough I saw that the air-con was off. We asked the receptionist and they said “Sometimes we turn it off in case the people get cold”.

Mmmmm I’m sure. After that night the air-con was left on. Again, why can’t we decide if we want it on or off?? Do they think we are going to steal the remote or something?

4. Noises everywhere

Because our dorm room was literally, and I mean two steps away from the common area, that meant we could hear every type of noise; chatting, cutlery clattering, the washing machine, the people washing their dishes… everything. Another one that was added was the recent addition of the squeaking of the mens toilet door every time it opened. So that was a new one. I thought ‘they may actually fix it’, but no, it was still squeaking when we left. I’m so thankful that I had my earplugs with me, or else they all would have driven me mad.

5. For the smokers, the entrance of the hostel was the smoking area… which of course means that all the non-smokers  and the people checking in have to walk through the cloud of cigarette/ marijuana smoke to enter. Because it was sort of inside, the smell just lingered in the small area which wasn’t very pleasant.

6. Cold showers

In the ladies toilet there were 3 showers, and 2 of them I liked more than the other one. So the first shower which I had was lovely and hot! No problems! The next shower was also fine. The third one was getting cold just after I put shampoo in my hair, but it wasn’t too bad. It was luke warm. The next one however was absolutely freezing! As soon as I turned it on it went straight to icey cold. I thought maybe it would heat up but no, it just stayed cold. That was a very tough shower as I can’t cope with the cold!  After that one I asked could I have a shower in my fiancés aunts house, I just didn’t want to have another cold shower like that. I don’t even think I rinsed all the soap off my body it was that cold! I just wanted to get out!

So my last shower we were supposed to get up at 8am as we were checking out at 10. I ended up waking at 7:20am and decided to go for one them, hoping the water would be fine.

There was nobody in the bathroom when I entered and I switched the shower on to make sure it got hot. And it was!  My last shower was as good as the first! I’m guessing maybe the other girls use up the hot water, but there should be at least warm water for everyone.

7. Weird people

There was one particular person there that kind of creeped us out while we were there. While we were in the common area, this girl would be walking around with a big fluffy coat on her…. by the way the weather was 30+ degrees, so she looked totally odd wearing this in the hostel. I’m pretty sure everyone was looking at her wearing this big coat.

Also there was something sort of just ‘off’ about her. (The coat didn’t exactly help either)  She would just be walking about the common area, going to the bathroom, walking a bit more…. that was pretty much all we saw her do in the hostel.

Until one night….

So I was in my bed and had to go to the bathroom. It was around 1am I think. I get up and open the door. I walk past this girl and she nearly bumped into me. I wasn’t really paying attention to her or what she was doing, but I was wondering why she was so close to me. I realise that she’s swaying and making a “huh” sound every so often. I realise she’s high as a kite. On what I have absolutely no idea, but she was definitely high. I quickly went to the bathroom and when I come out she has moved over to the fridge and is swaying and doing god knows. I didn’t want to continue watching her.

Then as I walk toward my dorm room she begins to (try) to walk towards me. i rush to my room and  look over to her as she began to bump into the mens toilet.

At least I’m back in bed. Until….. that was the night someone walked into our dorm room. I’m guessing it was her. So of course I was scared then to go back outside as she could be outside being zombie-like.

But the drama doesn’t stop there! I wake up again at 5:30am with someone in the common area shouting! I was half asleep at this stage so I wasn’t really paying attention, but my fiancé also woke up and he heard it. He said that someone from the hostel was shouting at the girl in Spanish and in English. “Get out!!!! You are drunk! You are high! You have to leave!”

Do you think she left? Nope……we get up around 8:30 and guess who we see… the girl with the black coat. She was no longer high, but now she had her pink bag with her and was (yet again) walking around the common area. I’m guessing she was awake for the whole night.

There was another female worker there and she went up to the girl and in English said “You have to leave now. Get your things and go.” The girl started saying that she wanted to speak to the manager as at 5:30am the guy that she was talking to was very rude to her.

“I want to know why he was so rude to me, I was only smoking inside”. (which she clearly wasn’t)

The lady said “He was the manager!”

“Ok, then I need a refund”.

“Fine, we’ll give you your refund but then you have to leave.”

“How much would it be for another night?”

“No, you are not staying another night! There is a hostel across the street, you can go and try to stay there, but you are not staying here”.

“I want to use the bathroom.”

“Again??? This is the second time you have to go to the bathroom”

So she went to the bathroom and came back out. She walked a bit more and then FINALLY she left the building.

The drama was over and there was peace at last! I kind of felt sorry for the girl but at the same time it’s not on getting high or whatever while in a hostel full of other people. She was travelling alone so god knows what bad things could have happened to her. She shouldn’t get herself into a state like that, especially when she couldn’t even speak Spanish. (She tried but the the lady told her to speak English as her Spanish wasn’t very good)

So yeah, it was eventful staying at the hostel. If any of you want to know the name of this delightful place, it’s called the d’hostel.

Would I recommend it? No…. it needs upgrading and looks kind of shabby. Plus all of the problems  mentioned above, there are a few more that I won’t mention as the ones here were the most annoying for me. Although the location was great as it was in the centre and only 5 minutes walk to the metro. So it’s very centric.

Would I stay here again? NO WAY.

Aisling.

Toledo, Spain

While in Madrid, we visited a really pretty place called Toledo! Apparently on wikitravel, it says that although it’s nice, it’s very touristy. When I read this I was put off by it. Too many tourists often ruin a site. But when we arrived in Toledo, we were very impressed by it!

Yes there were tourists, but when you start walking down the many small alleyways, the tourists disperse for a while. I have to say I really liked the whole place! It’s an ancient city set on top of a hill and in the olden times was surrounded by a wall. Some of the wall can be seen today. There are quaint shops, beautiful old buildings, and I loved walking down the narrow alleys and seeing what we would come across. In the olden times, the Jewish, Muslims and Christians all lived within the walled city in their own areas. You can walk around each area and see the differences in each one!

So how we got there was we got a bus from Madrid bus station which was about 45min/1 hour to Toledo. Then from there we walked up to the old city.

While we were there, we took a small train (it’s not really a train but just a small bus that looks like a train with an open top) and it took us around the area and out of the city so we could take some great photos of the whole city from afar. I would suggest you do this as it’s the only way to get a great photo of it. They stop for 5 minutes for you to get out and take your photos.

If you plan to go, I would advise to go during midweek rather than the weekends. When we went it was pretty busy already and that was on a Tuesday.

But yeah, definitely make a stop to this pretty place if you are ever in Madrid!

Aisling