Learning Spanish Routine; Updated

So a few weeks ago I posted about how I study Spanish and what my routine was. Well, it has sort of changed since that time; I realised some methods just weren’t working, so I’ve adapted it and I feel it is helping me more. Click the link to find my old post: Learning Spanish in Mexico: My Study Routine

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).

(UPDATED): I’m still doing my Duolingo, but I’m not doing 2 wheels anymore to make them change colour. On level 2, you have to do the same wheel 8 times, so instead, what I’m doing now is just 1/8 of the wheel, then moving to another wheel. So I do 5 wheels instead of just 1 or 2. I thought it got boring doing the same exercise 8 times in a row.

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.

(UPDATED): I’ve sort of given up on the grammar book for the moment. There are still a lot of grammar points I can’t get my head around, so sometimes I’ll have a look at it when I want, but I don’t study from it as much now.

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!

(UPDATED): I upped it again to 30 words but(once again) it got too much for me. For the moment I’m not learning new words.

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.

(UPDATED) Although I enjoyed writing out the sentences to the questions, I felt like I just wasn’t remembering the phrases. I would need to read and re-read them over and over, and I just couldn’t remember them. So I’ve realised this wasn’t the most useful way for me to learn.

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 I kept some of the methods from my previous and got rid of others. Below are 4 more methods that I’ve started using!

One of the things that surprised me a lot was how much I enjoy writing a diary in Spanish. I usually write one page and a half about what I did yesterday, what I plan to do, my feelings…. you know, stuff you’d put in a diary. It’s helped me a lot and it’s not a chore to do at all. It helps me to practice the conjugations and I have noticed my writing is improving. So that’s one thing I really like doing now.

Recently I’ve started writing 3 sentences with a verb/ adjective or noun I’ve chosen. I’ve just started this, but I think I may stick to writing sentences using just a verb instead of using adjectives and nouns. I can practice with the conjugations of the verbs and that will help me to remember them. I enjoy doing this also.

I’ve subscribed to lots of Spanish speakers YouTube accounts. Tonnes are about them being AuPairs and moving to a different country and telling their experiences. Some of them speak slow while others speak very fast, so I think it’s really good listening practice and it’s ‘everyday’ Spanish that I’m listening to.

Finally, I’ve forgotten that I used to use Memrise to study Chinese, so I’ve picked that back up again and I’ve started using it. I usually do this after I’ve done my Duolingo. I like that Memrise has full, and often very useful sentences that you practice.

So, that’s it, another spanish routine! A few weeks ago I was studying quite a lot, but now I usually don’t do all that I’ve mentioned in one day. I’ve stressed myself out too much so I just do what I feel like doing. Maybe I’ll only do 2 things from the list but I just need a break and not to push myself too hard.

Let me know if you use any of these methods while studying a language and if they are helpful!

Aisling

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My Therapist Said…

I’ve been stressing out lately about things…. the wedding, living in Mexico, money, not having much independence… just general things in life. Every week myself and my husband go to a therapist and we just talk about stuff that makes me anxious and what I can do to improve my life. My husband comes to translate because although my therapist understands a lot of what I say, I don’t think his speaking is as good. I don’t mind because I tell my husband everything so he knows beforehand what we’re going to discuss.

One thing I’ve been stressing about is learning my Spanish every day. “Today you need to learn this Aisling…..Oh you still haven’t done it, you’re going to have to do extra tomorrow.”.

Tomorrow comes “Don’t forget you have extra to study today….you’re going to be way behind in everything and won’t learn anything”.

And yet I still don’t do it. So I pressure myself to learn this, do that, write this out, study this grammar, and then there’s just so much that I need to do that I end up abandoning everything.

Then I feel bad for not doing anything all day.

So my therapist was telling me maybe leave studying Spanish for a while and see how I get on. I do want to continue studying though, so he recommend that I to do it in a more fun way. So I’m going to try and do that.

He also advised me just to relax more and do more of what I enjoy. I don’t do many things because my bloody head is constantly thinking ‘You have to study, you have to study… study… study… STUDY!!!.’ So I feel I shouldn’t be watching videos on YouTube because I really should be studying instead.

But my therapist made sense, and from now on for the foreseeable future I’m just going to relax more, stop worrying about Spanish, and just do what I feel like doing. Do stuff that makes me happy.

When I want to and feel like studying then I’ll do it. I’m going to try and not get annoyed at myself if I don’t.

You know it’s just that I know I’m not very good at languages. I know it. I know I need to put pressure on myself. Just doing nothing isn’t going to make the language stick in my head. I’m definitely not gifted with languages that’s for sure. I don’t mind that. I just want to see that my efforts are creating results, and at the moment I just can’t see it. For the time I study and the effort I’m putting in, I’m just not seeing results. My husband says he can see I’m getting better at talking, but I just can’t. So it’s annoying. I’m determined to learn it. I know one day I will speak fluently, but just now it’s difficult.

So, for the time being I’m just going to take it easy, do what makes me happy, and not stress as much. And we’ll see what happens!

Aisling

When Things Bother Me

To be honest I don’t really know what to write in this post. Things have been bothering me lately, and I don’t know what to do. My wedding is coming up and that’s added pressure. I had wanted my wedding day to be a relaxed affair, and not like a ‘normal’ wedding. That’s what I first planned. We were going to have it in our garden in Mexico, turning the swimming pool into a dance area. We were looking at prices for lights, dj, food…. but then we realised that 50 people just won’t fit in the garden, so we had to change plans.

So now I’m having this ‘normal’ wedding like everyone else in a venue; a reception, a toast….. and although I hope it will be a good day… it’s not exactly what I wanted for my wedding. I don’t like being centre of attention, so having a typical wedding day isn’t something I would choose.

I was even looking looking at dresses that weren’t even typical wedding dresses. But then once we moved it to the venue and I realised that yes it’s a full blown thing, then I kind of HAD to resort to getting a typical white wedding dress.

I’m looking forward to the day and then I’m not. I just hope that all will be ok. So that and just other things are stressing me out. Sometimes I feel it was the wrong decision to move to Mexico. And sometimes I am very unhappy with the situation I’m in. Maybe should we have stayed in China? I don’t know. I miss it a lot. I really do, it was my home for 5 years, and I mourn my old life a lot.

It just feels I’m stuck in limbo yet again. This time I’m studying Spanish, and yet again I just can’t see much progress in it. Also I can’t work because if I do get a job then I’ll have to say “Well thanks for the job offer but just to let you know I can’t work for at least 3 weeks in a few months time”. That certainly won’t look good. So both of us can’t look for jobs because we have our wedding.

So this and other things that are happening are just bothering me and making me unhappy, and I don’t know what to do.

Aisling.

A Mexican Birthday Party

adult alone black and white dark

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

So one of my fiancés aunty just turned 70, so all her family and relatives were invited for a small party in one of my fiancés uncles restaurants. Now I’ve been to a few of these ‘gatherings’, and on a few occasions I really didn’t enjoy myself.

I’m not saying the people at these gatherings are terrible people, they are not at all! They are all just so nice, friendly and every single one of my fiancés relative are lovely people. I’m very lucky to be joining such a loving family. So it’s really not about the company.

My problem is that I can’t speak Spanish well enough to communicate. Well I can speak some Spanish, but I definitely cannot give my input on anything other than ‘What’s your favourite food’, ‘What did you do yesterday?’… etc.

I usually feel sad when I’m at these parties, just due to the fact that I can’t talk. I can’t join in. I can’t give my opinion on anything. So I usually just sit there, look around, and smile when there is a joke being shared. I just feel so uncomfortable. That’s why I usually get anxious going to these events.

So we arrived in Mexico city and we met everyone and thankfully I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I really enjoyed the day. Although I still didn’t understand pretty much anything, I wasn’t as anxious or stressed when I didn’t understand. I think this was due to the fact that there were about 20 people in the room. Usually I get more anxious when it’s a smaller group.

So I think thats what helped the situation a lot. The thing is I want to talk to people, I want to make jokes, I want to join in, I want people to see the real me, and not the one that just sits there and doesn’t do or say anything. My fiancés family don’t know what I’m like, and I really want to show them. So it’s difficult. I feel like they see my body but not my personality.

I suppose I want them to see ‘Look, this is who your nephew/cousin is going to marry…. sometimes she’s funny, she enjoys talking about this or that… she seems like a nice person, I know why Rafael is with her’.

I guess I just want to seem interesting, because when someone doesn’t speak your own language, it’s hard to get to know that person and find out what they are like. Then you kind of ignore the person because whatever you say to them they won’t understand, so you just keep away from them.

And I don’t want people to think that of me. I think my fiancés relatives are beginning to see what I’m like though. Most of them speak English so that helps ALOT! But you know, when they are together they just speak Spanish.

There are a few more gatherings (Mexican families LOVE family gatherings) so I hope they will go ok too. I just wish my Spanish was great, and I could blabber to all of them. Not perfect, but good enough that I can speak fluently, confidently and get my point across. That’s all I want for the moment.

It’s very frustrating… and these are the times when I really miss Ireland and being able to speak English to everyone.

Aisling.

Preparing For Our Wedding

So, wedding stuff…… lights, flowers, music, alcohol, food, dress….. oh and that list goes on and on and on. . . 

With our wedding a few months away, we’re now on the clock to get everything sorted for it, and let’s just say, I’m very happy that we only have to go through this once! It’s only one day, but there’s so much planning and preparation that goes with it, I don’t think I could do it all again! This is the time when you need a wedding planner. (If only I had like tonnes of money to be able to get one) 

I still don’t have my dress, and one that I liked was too expensive. Now I have no real idea what wedding dresses cost as we haven’t really shopped around, but let’s just say it’ll be hard to find a cheap one! And what was planned as a small ‘party’ in our garden has turned into having it in an event venue with toasts, ceremonies and everything else that comes with weddings! I kept saying to myself, and others around me “It’s not really a wedding at all, it’s more like a party”. I was trying to make myself think that “it’s just a party, only a party, nothing crazy like a proper wedding, definitely not…….it’s just a small party”. But no, it’s not ‘just a party’ anymore, which scares me! 

I really don’t like being centre of attention, and a whole day being about me (and my fiancé of course) scares the living daylights out of me! Thankfully it won’t be a huge wedding, maybe with around 50 guests. I can handle that number. 

I suppose I just have to think ‘everyone getting married goes through this’. Everybody. I’m sure there’s not one bride or groom that won’t be nervous, stressed and secretly terrified about their big day, so that comforts me a little. 

But anyway, the next few months will be focused on the big day, and it’s hard not to think about anything else. When you are tight with money, you need to be careful with your budget, how much everything costs…blah blah blah. 

Oh, and I’ve learned…… photographers are EXPENSIVE!!!! I never knew how expensive they were. That’s another thing that we need to think about. I read a few years ago that one thing you shouldn’t skip on is having a professional photographer at your wedding. Yes they are expensive but they take much much better photos than anyone else at the wedding. Plus you’ll always have memories of the day by having beautiful photos. So it’s expensive but I think it’s necessary (unless you want blurred photos taken by your drunk relative as your memories)

Thankfully we are having it in Mexico, a country that is known to be cheap, so hopefully that will help our budget. We are just trying to have a cheap but nice wedding day. I know it’s an important day but I don’t want to blow loads of money on just one day. Cheap doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad wedding. Plus with both of us not working isn’t helping, it’s not nice having our money slowly but surely disappearing, with no way to replenish it. 

With regards to our honeymoon, we haven’t really talked about it. We’ll most likely visit somewhere nice in Mexico. First get the big day out of the way, and then we’ll talk about the honeymoon. 

The countdown is on! 

Aisling

Worrying

woman working girl sitting

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

So with my latest posts, I was talking about how I enrolled in a Spanish course in a university here. My second time going was a bad experience, you can read about it here: No, It Didn’t Go Well

We decided to go and meet the teacher and explain to her that the level is too high. So, it turns out that the other two students that were in the class have been studying a year at the university, so they use Spanish every day because their course is in Spanish. So that is why their level is so good! I’m guessing on their free mornings they come to have class just to strengthen their Spanish. So I was worrying and wondering how I was stuck in with them when they were supposed to be ‘basic’ like me. Unfortunately the teacher never told me this, so I couldn’t understand why they were in my class. Apparently theres only two levels available to take, so they just came to the lower class. Maybe they have class before or after so 10am was the only time to go.

The teacher said that I can continue going and just observe the class, so I can improve my listening at least.

So the day after I had class and I just couldn’t go in. I just sort of had an anxiety panic attack. I just didn’t want to go in and have to sit there while the the others are blabbering away and me not being able to understand anything. I just hate that feeling.

On Wednesday I arrived to class and chat chat chat was all I heard. Again I couldn’t understand much. She asked me some questions and I ‘tried’ to answer, but when the others are talking I just can’t understand. Yesterday I went in again and there were 4 male students, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t understand about 80% of the class. Honestly. It was very difficult for me. They were laughing and joking about something and I just sat at the side just doing nothing. I couldn’t participate or anything.

So I came out of class a little down again, thinking ‘Is this what I have to deal with 5 days a week? I have to worry every morning about going in to class which I shouldn’t have to worry about. Every class I’m anxious that she’ll ask me something and I don’t understand. Maybe they’ll be chatting about a topic and the teacher will ask me “So Aisling, what do you think about climate change? and I’ll be sitting there like an eejit because I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, never mind giving my opinion on something more advanced than talking about myself’.

These are the things I think about. And I know it’s stupid. I know I should just go in there and try. But I can’t try because I can’t participate. I don’t understand anything they say, so I can’t even try to say something.

So for this week I went in 2 days, today (Friday) I woke up and just said to myself “Nope….not going in today”. And I didn’t. And do you know what? I feel absolutely great today! I’m not worried or anxious about the class. I’m not annoyed at what I didn’t understand. I’m not sad after it and thinking “Oh I said that wrong, I should have said this…” I feel wonderful today.

Anyway, that’s my dilema! Either go to class and struggle, but know that I’m getting something out of it (god knows what because at the moment I feel like the only thing I’m getting out of it is stress). Or I could just not go and be happier, but then feel annoyed that I’m not going and at least trying. It’s a tricky one!

I don’t want to feel like I’m giving up. I really don’t. But the class is just so difficult for me. If it was the level that I’m at and I just didn’t go, then yeah I would be giving up. But this situation is different, so it’s harder.

I’ve also started seeing a therapist for my anxiety. I’ve wanted to go while in China but it was expensive. So I talked about how the class went to him and why I worry a lot. So we’ll see how that goes!

But anyway, today I feel happy and worry-free. So that’s good.

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