Okay, so I’ve been working on my listening-only Spanish project for about three weeks. Here’s a very quick post to let you know about my progress.
And I seriously thought about not mentioning this, but I’m going to be up front: I cheated. I’ll explain below.
The listening is going well. Here’s the list of pretty much everything I’ve consumed:
- La Teacher de Inglés – A Colombian telenovela (more on this below)
- La Selección – Another Colombian telenovela about the famous Colombian soccer team in the early 90s
- La Padre de Familia (aka, Family Guy) – Full episodes, dubbed into Spanish
- Los Simpsons – Full episodes of The Simpsons, dubbed into Spanish
- Destinos – A made-for-PBS, made-for-Spanish learners which I’ve mentioned before in this and this post
- Notes in Spanish – Podcasts put out from a couple in Spain and available for free at their website
- Caillou – A cartoon for preschoolers, dubbed into Spanish
- Plaza Sésamo – Sesame Street, but the Latin American version
- Mater’s Tall Tales – Short cartoons with Mater from Cars, dubbed into Spanish
- Los Anormales – The morning radio show for my favorite local Latino radio station, Rumba 100.3
- Bachata and reggaeton songs – I listen while I’m working
A lot of those materials are available for free online. I have accounts for Hulu Plus and Netflix, so I get some of my shows through there. La Padre de Familia and Los Simpsons are on legal-ish websites that stream the movies from embedded YouTube videos.
The kids shows were great, but I got a little tired of them. Same with the stuff designed for “learning,” like Destinos and Notes in Spanish. I started looking for more grown-up stuff I’d enjoy.
Eventually, I found La Teacher de Inglés, a Colombian telenovela about a factory owner who hires an English teacher.
I like this show because I find it legitimately funny. I’m very motivated to pay attention to the language so that I can understand the jokes. And watching the episodes doesn’t feel like work because I’m entertained. My only criticism is that it’s paced really slow, being a telenovela and all.
Random observation: Shows dubbed from English into Spanish are much easier to understand than shows that have been filmed in Spanish originally. Kind of weird, right? They both use Spanish-speaking actors, and when I look at the subtitles, the language isn’t much different.
I suppose the reason for the difference is that when someone is reading into a microphone, he or she is paying much more attention to diction and clarity, and is also probably using a more “neutral” Spanish that is free of regionalisms and colloquialisms.
Speaking is going okay. With the holidays, my language exchange partner and I kind of fell out of our routine, but we’ll pick it back up. I’ve been doing some self-speaking and trying to talk about items around my house.
Okay, here’s my confession: I’ve been doing grammar drills.
I know, I know. I hate myself for it. But I discovered during my speaking that what’s keeping me back the most is being able to conjugate verbs. I’m not terrible with verb conjugation, but I’m not great either. That’s the one thing keeping me from being able to rattle off stuff like I know what I’m talking about.
So I started attacking the problem head on. Honestly? It’s been working very, very well.
I realize this takes away the spirit of the experiment a little bit. In my defense, I haven’t read anything, I swear. And as you can see, I haven’t been slacking with the listening. So there’s that.
I’m seeing a lot of gains, so I’m going to keep on with the experiment. Or more accurately, the experiment, plus one new added…bonus feature.
Do you guys think it’s weird for someone not wanting to give up studying grammar?