Have you ever witnessed other people do something impressive and feel like you could never do it yourself? That’s how I feel about learning a second language. While I know it’s possible, my self-efficacy is apparently lower with this skill than with most. That made me want to challenge myself with learning Spanish for this project, as there are few opportunities that would push me to follow through with it quite like this. While that was the prime factor, I have a variety of reasons for why I wanted to learn Spanish.
- I hope to one day finish my Bachelor of Arts degree, which requires a course in a second language.
- I travel frequently, have visited several Spanish-speaking countries and wished I knew a bit of the language, and want to go to South America in the near future.
- Spanish is the second biggest language in the world by native speakers, something I didn’t know until recently. So, there’s utility there.
- I teach numerous EAL students, and Spanish seems to be the second most common language spoken, behind Tagalog.
- This is clearly a learning task that others have tackled and challenged based on the great examples of student work provided.
- It definitely meets the syllabus guideline of being “complex to learn, worth learning, and of great interest to you.”
- The opportunity for face-to-face input in our Zoom session last week and comments on my blog helped me make my decision.
- It’s sure to be a lot of fun!
Anyways, it has gradually become more and more clear to me that this was the best option. So now the fun begins…
What do I do?
Where do I go?
I did what any teacher would do: look at what others were doing and copy them (let’s be honest, this is a great way to learn that we sometimes discourage). I looked through the various example blogs listed earlier, sent out a message for help on Twitter, and benefited greatly from reading Daisy’s first post. So my first week of my project was one of exploration and, as you will see, apparent big, easy gains in knowledge.
Daisy mentioned challenging a proficiency test to gauge her working knowledge of Italian, so I thought I’d do the same, just for kicks:
Seeing that I received less than 25% on a four option multiple choice test confirmed that I have absolutely no background with the Spanish language.
Duolingo is one of the few language learning resources I had heard of before starting this project. I had used it for an hour or two five years ago to polish up my French and it was mentioned on Twitter and several of the blogs I read. Therefore, I decided to start there. After creating an account, I learned that Duolingo had its own aptitude test that is administered before beginning the course. What happened next might shock you…
I absolutely rocked the quiz! A combination of being an English teacher with a fairly strong grasp of sentence structure with cursory French made basic Spanish seem fairly intuitive. The website/app is also really impressive from a design perspective–it comes off as polished, accessible, and, frankly, fun. I actually enjoyed working my way through the first exercises.
I don’t full understand the structure yet, but after an hour or so of work, I had accomplished level three in the intro and started chipping away at the other categories too. I am on my way! I’ve embedded a sample YouTube video to just test out Screencastify and YouTube!