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Spanish B1 in 9 months

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60 messages over 8 pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next >>
Joined 1039 days ago

50 posts - 7 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 1 of 60
11 September 2015 at 11:09pm | IP Logged 
Hi there guys, new to the forum. I'm going to be keeping a running personal log on my
newest personal experiment...

I am completing a college major that will most likely necessitate me
relocating to a Latin American country (Chile, I hope) in a year or so. My background
is that of a native English speaker who couldn't even say "hello" in Spanish a month
ago. There was no language component to my degree, although I do have a light
background in a non-romance language.

I have have schedule that I hope will carry me to a decent B1 level (CERF) in
8-9 months. it includes:

Completing the entire Michel Thomas series ( I have already listened to the foundation
level course twice over, which I actually found to be quite frustrating, due to the two
students being so annoying.)

Complete Assimil with ease at one lesson a day, including at least 50 active lessons (I have completed 2 weeks worth of lessons and am really enjoying it so far, although it takes a bit of discipline.) I also attempt to shadow regularly as a form of
revision. I use the "dutch method" when completing each lesson, at least so far. I expect to take 6 months to run through the entire book, including an active wave for the first 50 lessons.

Complete Pimsleur Spanish lessons 1-30 (I have completed 15 so far- they are dead easy
after having finished the Michel Thomas Foundation course. I enjoy the drills, but find they cover too little ground. ) The lessons I have done so far seem useful for
developing counting skills.

After completing Assimil concurrently with MT/ Pimsleur, I will begin working my way
through FSI programmatic level 1, because I want to develop good pronunciation skills,
as per the advice to this effect in the first volume of FSI Basic 1.

I intent to not do FSI basic level 1 at this stage, replacing it with FSI Programmatic
Volume 1 instead. Whether I will choose to continue on with FSI Programmatic Volume 2
or FSI Basic level 2 after completing programmatic level 1. Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

I will also use Anki, but solely for revising phrases in Assimil that I am having
particular problems remembering.I will also expose myself to conversations with native
speakers whenever possible (am planning to take a few formal lessons,) and will also
indulge in exposure to native material such as reading materials and TV whenever I feel like it. This will not be done in any organized matter.

At the moment, I am clocking up around 1-2 hours a day of solid study, which is
manageable for me in the long term, although I will in all likelihood increase it later
when my current workload (non-language related) becomes more manageable.

If this program works out, I hope that I will be at a stage where I can throw myself
into language immersion environment without drowning (proverbially) and get even higher levels of language proficiency. I might even complete FSI Basic volume 3 before going
as well, in order to give myself some more confidence before leaving.
I am doing this for pecuniary reasons, so I hope this gives me sufficient motivation to
keep up my schedule.
I believe this plan is in comportment with what a lot of people have recommended on
this forum, and I intend to see it through. I also like wokring to a plan in general-
in other similar self improvement projects I have done, a solid plan, committment and
decent programming has always delivered excellent results for me.
Also, where do you think I will end up on the CERF after having finished this schedule?
Again, if I can hit a solid B1 level, based on Youtube videos of people I have seen of
people at this level, I will be stoked.

Edited by Digitalis on 14 September 2015 at 2:33pm

Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 4274 days ago

9756 posts - 6179 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 2 of 60
12 September 2015 at 4:52am | IP Logged 
When going abroad, it's much more important to understand what people tell you than to have a perfect grammar. You'll definitely need to watch some TV/series before your trip. You may start already now with a series for learners, Destinos.

FSI is boring, painful and takes a lot of time. Use it if you want, but there are tons of great resources for Spanish. And don't be harsh on yourself if you don't like it. Same with MT - if it's annoying, do something else. There's no shortage of resources. Pimsleur isn't bad for what it does, but it's very slow. But the pronunciation is important, and you seem to like it, so there could be worse ways to spend 15 hours. But don't continue to the next levels.

The key won't be what you do when you feel like studying, though - it's more important what you do when you don't feel like it. Try and music in general. A bit later GLOSS will be useful too :) Use these in addition to your 1-2 hours a day.

I really liked this tool for learning the phonetics.

More ideas here. Techniques rather than specific resourecs - in general they're much more important. See especially busy-work vs solving specific problems.

Edited by Serpent on 12 September 2015 at 5:01am

4 persons have voted this message useful

Joined 1039 days ago

50 posts - 7 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 3 of 60
12 September 2015 at 7:31am | IP Logged 
Thanks alot for the reply. I have been thinking, I don't really know what I have gotten myself into here! With
regards to pronounciation, I though it was important, and I was intrigued by the few studies showing the
effect of phoneme training on Japanese ESL learners. This probably isn't so relevant when comparing
english and Spanish. I was thus intrigued with FSI programmatic course, because it mimicked this
approach, in my opinion. From reading other people's results on this forum of using FSI they seemed to be
underwhelmed with their results, given the amount of effort they put in. I will try FSI programmatic 1, but
will take it or leave it depending on whether I like it. My experience with Assimil has so far been great, and
II will finish MT, given that I have already put so much effort into the foundation course and liked the
results. I will definitely start watching destinos on your advice though, I was aware of it, but don't know
much about it at this stage.
Do you think that just doing Assimil/destinos and some other beginner resources will be enough to allow
me to survive on my own once I get over in Latin America? I will almost certainly enrol in some more study
onceI get there. It seemed to work for fellow Australian poster Fanatic with regards to German. But I am
not expecting miracles. I am in my mid 20's and am an old man with regards as far as language learning
critical periods are concerned. I know other people who learnt a foreign language at my age, and even after spending several years in an immersion environment, the results are usually suboptimal, even though they do well on formal language assessments.
I plan on
taking a DELE test in 8-9 months as a sort of natural experiment (B1 level, or more likely A2.) I will post the
results here for the sake of posterity, given all the great advice I have found on this forum.
Regards, Digitalis.

Edited by Digitalis on 14 September 2015 at 2:35pm

Joined 1039 days ago

50 posts - 7 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 4 of 60
12 September 2015 at 7:38am | IP Logged 
-Journal entries updated-

Edited by Digitalis on 14 September 2015 at 2:37pm

Brun Ugle
Senior Member
Joined 4297 days ago

1292 posts - 474 votes 
Speaks: English*, NorwegianC1
Studies: Japanese, Esperanto, Spanish, Finnish

 Message 5 of 60
12 September 2015 at 8:59am | IP Logged 
Your plan sounds good to me. I don't think you'll have much problem reaching B1 in that time frame. I would
definitely recommend the FSI programmatic course. I'm using it myself at the moment. True, it's boring, but I
think the extensive pronunciation training in the beginning is very useful. It not only helped me to pronounce
Spanish better, but once I learned to pronounce things the way a native speaker would, suddenly I could
understand what they were saying. Before, I couldn't. It was like magic.

Another thing I would add to the mix, is get yourself a teacher on Italki or similar site. Even just one lesson
every week or every other week will do wonders for your speaking ability.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 4274 days ago

9756 posts - 6179 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 6 of 60
12 September 2015 at 6:37pm | IP Logged 
Assimil and Destinos are a great beginning. Definitely do your best to go through some native materials as well.
And yeah, practise speaking too. I personally prefer to do lots of listening first, but if this motivates you, it's never too early to start.

Joined 1039 days ago

50 posts - 7 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 7 of 60
14 September 2015 at 1:57pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the advice guys. I have been busy for the last 48 hours, although I still stuck to my Assimil + Pimsleur schedule, just haven't been able to get time in for a post here.
Serpent: I did read some of your other forum posts, and I will pretty much do whatever you advise me to. I will definitely make my way through Destinos- I'm watching my first episode now and it seems like a pretty decent resource. I'll probably drop a few Pimsleur lessons in order to get more time for them. I think that a progression rate of approximately 1-3 episodes a day should be doable- watching the episodes are less work than Assimil lessons. Destinos + Michel Thomas advanced + Assimil should keep me busy for the next 6 weeks or so, at least until I reach the beginning of the active Assimil phase.
I still think I will try FSI programmatic volume 1, just to see if I like their approach, but this will be later down the track, and I won't beat myself up if it doesn't take my fancy.

Brun Ugle: I'll think I'll wait a few weeks (until around in order to get a bit more proficient using Assimil, I'd rather not have to waste money & time having a native speaker teach me how to say "Hola! Como te llamas?.") That being said, speaking to other actual human beings is something I am going to have to do sooner or later; to do so sooner is probably better than later. I had a look at SharedTalk as well, but I know next to nothing about the different programs. I do have Skype though. Are tutors cheap on Italki? Also, how far has FSI programmatic course taken you personally? Are you going to work on FSI Basic at a later stage?

Edited by Digitalis on 14 September 2015 at 2:45pm

Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 2939 days ago

2224 posts - 4530 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole

 Message 8 of 60
14 September 2015 at 2:38pm | IP Logged 
Try or in Guatemala as well. They charge about $10 USD/hour and the time difference between OZ and the Americas is morning/evening reversed.

The advice you've been given here is good advice. I would add that it is also important to be consistent and persistent. Being consistent will win the game for you. Being persistent will keep you in the game until you can be consistent and being persistent will also get you through the rough spots you will have.

Stick with Pimsleur. Yes, the early lessons are counting heavy and can be "boring". What the course is trying to do is to make Spanish automatic for you. Make it roll out of your mouth quickly and act as a kind of substitute for a live-speaking partner/tutor.

Some learners like to start with a tutor straight away. I like to wait until I have at least a good command of the basics first. Then, I use my tutors to help me with problems I am having and conversation. Good luck! ¡Buena suerte!

Edited by iguanamon on 14 September 2015 at 4:58pm

3 persons have voted this message useful

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