Intermediate Spanish – Woohoo

It’s been a year since I last posted.  And, on the one hand, I really dragged on finishing the Duolingo tree, but I’ve finally finished.  I took an online placement test from Cervantes Institute and I placed around B1.2 which is quite an accomplishment.

I’m back to not having a structure to support my learning.  Duolingo was great structure until I finished the tree.  I’m having to concoct a study program once more.

Currently, I’m completing the reverse Duolingo tree that means I’m taking their course to learn English designed for native Spanish speakers.  It’s quite challenging because difficult Spanish concepts are used early in the tree.

I’m also reading Spanish books.

Quick Update on Progress (5 months in)

Wow, I just reviewed my prior posts.

It’s been five months, and i wish I’d posted more because rereading my prior posts has been delightful.

My progress update.

As I mentioned in my prior post, after 5 months of study, I am about at the end of 2 semesters of college Spanish or 2 years of high school Spanish.  Pretty good progress, I would say.

However, please note, I am to some point guesstimating, and I should go ahead and take another actual assessment.  Finding another assessment will need to go on my to-do list.

I am currently learning infinitives and trying to make simple past tense conjugations stick in my brain.

I’ve abandoned my old grammar text, and primarily use Duolingo

I am remediating my auditory production and comprehension by using Pimsleur.  I’ve recently started at its very beginning, and enjoying it.  Pimsleur would have been pure torture five months ago, but using it for review is working well.

Supplementary Material – I read children’s picture books, watch movies in Spanish, Pinterest, read blogs in Spanish, and various other things that I stumble upon.  I’ve just started reading in Spanish, The Wizard of Oz, by Frank L. Baum.

La Madera

Wow, it’s been awhile, but I’ve been still trudging away with Spanish.  I think I’m somewhere around A2, at the end of the first year of a college Spanish course or the end of the second year of a high school Spanish course.

Anyways, the word for the day is ….

La Madera

I kept running into this word in my reading, and just wasn’t understanding from context.  I was thinking wine, but, it dawned on me that “madera” had a more general purpose, so I thought it might be “material.”  At that point, I decided to dust off the dictionary and lo and behold.  


a kind of material.  I was half there.  It’s LUMBER, WOOD.

After all of that effort, I must ask…. Why didn’t I figure that out from context?

Phonics and Me Are Not Friends – My Adventures with the word, Pruebar

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Today, Duolingo asked me to type this sentence when prompted by its computer synthesizer saying it.

La mujer prueba el arroz.

I’d typed all of the words correctly except “prueba”.  I don’t know that word.  I did remember that I was trying to spell the word for “taste”  but I don’t know the word yet.  So, instead of checking my Spanish dictionary (which, in the future, is probably the better tactic for me.), I decided to sound it out.

So, I pulled out my trusty Spanish Vowel Pronunciation Card <I shall insert a picture here of it, later today.  until then, just check my previous post>

I figured out that the first vowel sounded like “oo” therefore a “u”, but I hadn’t figured out the diphthong.  That will come with time.

But, the last vowel sound was the trouble maker.  My brain was absolutely convinced that the last sound was “eh”, so that makes the letter be “e”.   NO.

So, that’s my problem with learning a foreign language.  Essentially, I do not distinguish the “a” sound from the “e” sound.  It’s like having red-green color blindness.  I’m several decades old, so this isn’t going to fix over night.  But, what’s cool is that I do know how I learn.

I will learn how to spell and pronounce “probar”.  But, first step will be spelling it, or, in other words, being able to see it.  Also, it’s really cool that I was able to map the meaning of the word to its sound and context.  I’m halfway there.

Practicing or drilling the /a/ sound vs. /e/ sound is torture for me.  Yes, it will help, but it is SLLLLOOOOOWWWW for me.

The goal is to learn the word, “probar”.  I will be able to hear and understand that word by spelling it a lot faster than practicing the sounds that make it up.

By the way “probar” means “to try” (to prove).  In this context it means “to taste”.

Also, by writing up this post, I’ve hopefully drilled the appearance of the word probar into my brain.


DISCLAIMER – If I hadn’t been taught phonics way back when, I might never have learned to read.  Essentially, the average student figures out phonics on their own, but I can’t.  So if I hadn’t been taught phonics, I may never  have figured out the code for reading.  This does not mean that I LIKE phonics.  I recognize Phonics’ value, but I will always hate it, because it’s difficult.


Color Coding Foreign Language Learning is a Synonym for Learning Disability

Go ahead.  Type “Color Coding Foreign Language Learning” into the Google Search window.

Yip, almost every single result pertains to teaching a foreign language to the learning disabled.  So, since I was interested in color coding my Spanish notes, does that make me learning disabled.  ummmm.   Well…. Yeah, I’m learning disabled, but geez.  Very interesting what Google can teach you unintentionally.

Anyways, I was trying to find a consistent system for color coding my Spanish notes.  I figured that someone out there must have done this before.  

From what I can tell, yes, the experts know that color coding notes is very helpful for visual learners, but there isn’t a standard for color coding..

But, why would I be interested in a standard for color coding.  I have two reasons.  One, I’ve noticed that various Spanish teaching methods color code their material, i.e. Duolingo color codes the various parts of speech, and I wanted to color code my notes consistently so that I could avoid confusion.  Second, I figured that an expert ,may have figured out a better way of color coding that would enhance my learning and I didn’t want to waste my time using an inferior method.

And, as I’ve said, there is NO standard.  There’s some encouragement to use blue ink for masculine and red/pink ink for feminine.  I’ve also seen orange for masculine and purple for feminine, but I’m thinking that’s an avoidance of typical  female social stereotyping as pink and frilly.

Duolingo color codes various parts of speech.  But, Duolingo uses shades of colors, i.e. light blue and dark blue, and Duolingo only uses the color code to color sections of their learning tree not actual words.  I am not a fan of shades of colors for color coding so for now,  I’m testing out my own color codes.  Essentially, it appears that the experts believe that color coding is helpful and that the particular colors don’t really matter.  And, that makes sense.  It’s just that I use so many different sources for my learning that I was trying to create some consistency.

Anyways, I plan to post a follow-up with a review of my color coding system.  

And, I would love to hear from others, whether they color code their notes and how it works or doesn’t work for them.

Success. I can do present tense regular conjugations

I took a present tense regular conjugation quiz on today. And scored 94%. I only missed the two on Vosotros conjugation which I’ve never seen before.

I’ve been worried that the conjugations weren’t sticking, in part, because I know I would be hesitant to write down all of the conjugations for a verb out of context. But, being able to correctly conjugate the verbs in context is a much better gauge of my proficiency.

I’m not really thinking about how to conjugate. I just know which forms look right. Which I must say is a success.

Now, to focus on common verbs present tense irregular conjugation.