Tag Archives: Language Learning

Spanish-Learning Update

I have finally settled into a routine as far as my Spanish learning goes. If you are interested in acquiring a new language, check out these resources for your language:

Duo-Lingo – a really fun and FREE language-learning app and website that has taught me more in the last 6 weeks than everything else I have ever learned combined, including a high school class, 1 semester of college-level Spanish, and cramming for the CLEP. I cannot believe this program is free. I am making way better progress here than I did with Rosetta Stone, although the programs are similar. After soaring through the first 14 levels (out of pure excitement and addiction), I am now continuing to learn and reinforce at a much slower pace, but I am still satisfied with my continual progress. This program mostly teaches you new vocabulary and how to translate back and forth between English (or some other language) and Spanish (or some other language, lol). In addition, you have the option to use the microphone and/or the speakers to practice speaking and listening skills. There is also an immersion aspect, but I haven’t checked it out. I spend about 30-40 minutes with this program each morning before my son gets out of bed.

Memrise – this free program is open to so many possibilities! I have brainstormed several ways to use this spaced-repetition flashcard website and app for my own self improvement and homeschooling ideas. I have been using it for nearly 4 weeks now, and have not lost interest. The flashcard deck I have chosen has nearly every word recorded by several different native speakers, and the program randomly chooses one to play each time you encounter the word. It’s great for improving vocabulary, and it keeps track of the words you miss the most often and reviews them frequently. I spend about 10 or 15 minutes a day on this program, ideally right after finishing Duo-Lingo.

Anki – this is another spaced-repetition flashcard system that has tons of user-created flashcard decks available for download to your computer, phone, tablet, etc. I have been using this one for about 4 weeks as well. In contrast to the Memrise and Duo-Lingo programs, I have not figured out if you are able to share your progress across different platforms, so I have a core set of decks that I study seriously from my laptop, and a few fun ones that I study from my phone if I get bored when I’m out and about. The great thing about Anki is that you can download flashcards with pictures on them, so you get used to associating a Spanish word with what it actually represents, instead of merely translating in your head from English to Spanish or vice versa. I think some of the decks contain audio as well, but I don’t personally have any of those downloaded. I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour studying the flashcards with this program, later in the day while Ian is working independently. It’s fun and I always look forward to it!Headset

Tunein – this is a fun radio station and podcast listening website and app that has tons of programs in other languages, some of which are designed specifically for the language-learner. My husband introduced this program to me about a week ago. In addition to talk channels, you can also listen to music in your favorite language – complete with commercials, which are not so annoying when you are hanging on every word trying to understand what they’re selling, lol. For instance, I’ve been listening through the News In Slow Spanish channel. I’m covering one or two episodes a day, and although I try pretty hard to listen attentively, sometimes I find myself tuning out and getting distracted. That’s ok! I am acclimating myself to the sounds, even when I’m not actively listening. I usually turn on Tunein while I am exercising, which I have always had trouble making time to do anyway, so now I’m killing two birds with one stone. It’s also fun to listen to while cooking or engaging in any other quiet activity. If you are a homeschooler, you could listen while your children work on an art project, etc.

Fun New Way to Improve My Spanish Vocabulary

MouseSo I haven’t been trying very hard to acquire the language lately, but I have been reading from Spanish books on my Kindle and browsing Spanish Amazon, Wikipedia, etc. I haven’t learned very many new words this way, but I have found that I am able to recall words that I already know more quickly and easily. What I really need to do is just sit down and study some new vocabulary, but until then, I have found a Chrome application that will throw foreign words (in the language of your choice) into the web pages that you visit. There are five different levels of immersion. This app has a lot of bad reviews because sometimes the substituted words are out of context or get translated as a homophone. For instance, I was reading someone’s blog just now about going on a trip and she suggested to pack light. The translator used the Spanish word “luz” for light, which would be nothing more than a reminder to take a flashlight with you, lol. However, I am having fun with it, and hopefully I will pick up a few words along the way. At least, using this extension all the time, I won’t be able to forget about my language-learning goals in the daily swing of things.

A Laid-Back Approach to Language Learning

Laid BackWhile I have been tackling Spanish head on, I am taking a more laid-back approach with Ian. He has been watching tons of Spanish cartoons so that he can become accustomed to the way Spanish sounds. In all actuality, if he knew as many words as I did, I suspect that he would be able to comprehend the spoken language much better than I can at this point because he has spent so much time listening to it. To encourage us to start speaking Spanish in the home, I went to Babelfish and typed in several phrases that I commonly say to Ian over the course of a day or a week. (And by several, I mean four pages worth!) O.0

Yesterday, I started incorporating these phrases into our daily conversations, following up with the meaning of each phrase in English. It’s simple and easy, but very educational and fun! We are already speaking Spanish to one another, and I hope to increase the frequency of using these phrases slowly over time, as our knowledge increases.

To give you an idea of how to incorporate a second language into your daily activities, here is a list of just a few of the phrases I looked up:

I love you!

Good morning!

May I come in?

Let’s do your math.

Have you eaten anything?

Eat some spinach.

Do you want some hot chocolate?

Drink some water.

Write your outline.

Do you want me to read to you?

Let’s go to the library.

Let’s have lunch.

Read your Bible.

Play your instruments.

Let’s write a paragraph.

Watch something in Spanish.

Did you use your metronome today?

Let’s ride our bikes.

Let’s play a game.

Clean up your toys.

Do you want to invite a friend over?

Brush your teeth.

Get ready for bed.


Have fun learning!

More Spanish Learning Ideas

Spanish textI picked up a couple of books in Spanish the other day – one for Ian and one for me. I chose The Hobbit* for me because I have read it over and over, and I can always catch the gist of the story even when I don’t understand all of the words. A lot of times, I can figure out the meaning based on my memory of the story, context, or similarity to a word I know in English (or in Spanish). And I bought Biscuit for Ian (the one about the blonde puppy) for the same reasons. I am having so much fun learning, but I wonder if it’s possible to overdo it? My brain is fried, lol.

*Update on 1/11/2017 Upon further consideration and study of the scriptures, I have decided not to read or watch anything associated with the dark arts. I have enough things to fill my time, and I can certainly live without it. However, I am leaving this post up because it’s still a good idea to learn Spanish this way.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Spanish Language Learning for Fun

Baby with BallIan and I have been on a Spanish kick lately. We have watched Disney* cartoon after Disney cartoon on Netflix. All of them that we have looked at so far have Spanish audio, and we have been turning on the English subtitles too. We have only been watching the ones that Ian is already very familiar with so he always knows what’s going on, even if he can’t read the subtitles fast enough. I figure this is the way babies learn. Slowly, bit by bit, infants learn what’s going on, and then they begin to recognize words and patterns. Every time someone points to a ball, the child hears the word ball and begins to form connotations between the object and the word. I figure we can learn a second language the same way, and we are having a blast at the same time! We might get serious about it someday, but for now, we will at least get used to hearing the rhythms and learn a few words in the meantime.

*Update on 1/11/2017. I no longer watch Disney movies. When Maleficent came out, I watched it and loved it. A few weeks later, I bumped into a guy who was caught up in all kinds of Jewish mysticism. He was convinced his beliefs were true (aren’t we all), and I made a deal with him that I would go home and look up a character named Lilith if he would agree to read his Bible. I might write more about it someday, but suffice it to say that Disney has been sneaking demonic things into our children’s classics, and I was totally unaware. So, yeah, no more Disney. I realize that to the pure all things are pure, but I don’t like the idea of consuming movie after movie produced by people who are willing to spend that much time researching the dark things of this world.