Major Digital Project 4/5: Hola YouTube!

On Twitter last week, I got a huge response (ok, 11 likes) to my tweet about leaving blog posts unpublished. Just my luck that a tweet highlighting my flaws would make it big. It was reassuring to hear that at least six of my classmates, and Dr. Couros himself, deal with the issue too. There’s something oddly heartwarming about not feeling alone in your struggles!

Well, here we are and I’m about to merge two long-standing incomplete posts (farewell blog posts 4 and 5, we hardly knew ye) into one mega post! I like to think of this as the blog equivalent of the omnibus bills used by our recent Liberal and Conservative federal governments to throw everything including the kitchen sink into a single piece of legislation. And like their process, no criticism of my method is allowed either! Read on, or don’t. There’s probably a hockey game on or something.

In all seriousness, it’s been a good week and a half. It’s been nice having someone else learning a language in the course. Daisy’s blog has been an interesting place to compare my progress to hers. While I definitely have much less background with my language than she does with hers, it gives me a sense of where a more advance learner would go. Thanks for paving the way for those of us in the back, Daisy!

I’m also getting more and more flashbacks (Dr. and Mrs. Vandertramp anyone?) to my days of Core French all the way from Grade 1 to Grade 12. Fun fact: I took a French course in my third year of university and dropped it because I felt so overwhelmed. This time learning Spanish has been much more manageable, largely because I can set me own pace. I’m also supported by my apparent addiction to Duolingo (yes, it’s a real thing). Please send help.

Seriously though, I made my way into Platinum League folks (trigger warning: ‘folks’ links to an image of Doug Ford). I don’t know what it means to be in Platinum League, but I am sure pumped about it. I’ve also completely maxed out my skills for much of the early levels, which has a strange similarity to my urge to be a completionist in video games (no, not that Completionist). I still think I might talk about gamification in Duolingo one week because I think it’s a fascinating topic.

In addition to my continued work with Duolingo, I have branched out into YouTube as a source for my learning. In order to find the best Spanish learning video I could, I used the tried and true method to find good videos on YouTube: sorting by most views.

What I found was the series Spanish for Beginners, hosted by Dr. Danny Evans. I didn’t do any background research when I watched it, but I did now, and I was surprised to learn this show is produced by the network, Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters or AIB. I felt that was surprising enough to mention.

Anyways, episode was 27 minutes long (that feels like 3 hours with how busy I’ve been lately). I watched it on my phone while on the treadmill, so there were ads as well, which reminded me of why I should do more stuff on my computer and probably stop using my treadmill.

When I started watching, I’ll admit I was pretty reluctant. A video that long seemed almost certain to be a bore, and I felt my Duolingo work was pretty comprehensive to begin with. By the end, I was definitely reconsidering that position.

The first episode really went into the mechanics of language in an accessible, yet thorough way. That is pretty much the polar opposite of Duolingo, which basically throws you into the language, as I learned when I first used it.

As the screencap shows, Dr. Evans did a lot of work explaining things such as the pronunciation of vowels in Spanish. This helped me moved past the simplistic mimicking I had been doing on Duolingo, which I could always tell was somewhat off, but never could figure out why. Knowing vowels themselves are pronounced differently has helped me navigate that better.

Another section of the video went into the pronouns of Spanish, with a chart that should look awfully familiar to anyone who knows basic French:

“can I copy your homework?”
“yeah just change it up a bit so it doesn’t look obvious that you copied”

I think one of my biggest realizations is how there are so many similarities between the romance languages and that I should try and leverage my above-average ability in French (I have spent a lot of time in that country…) to make the transition to Spanish a bit easier.

Next week, I’m gonna keep using Duolingo, which is my only no-brainer. From there, I’m undecided whether I should continue using the Spanish for Beginners series on YouTube, which was definitely good, or if it might be worth seeking out an even better video series to compare. Of course, using some other techniques to learn Spanish could also be worthwhile; someone mentioned on Twitter reaching out to the local Newcomer Welcome Centre. I think that’s a great idea, but also a bit intimidating.

If you have any thoughts about where to go next, leave them in the comments below. Otherwise, que tengas un buen día!

4 thoughts on “Major Digital Project 4/5: Hola YouTube!

  1. Hola! I really enjoyed reading your blog post, Riley – very funny! I shudder to think back to high school french. The crazy thing is, I have discovered a love for learning languages in adulthood! I picked up a ton of Spanish after spending a couple weeks in Mexico! I was also amazed at how much french I actually remembered when I traveled to Quebec! Languages are a lot of fun to learn! Are you planning to travel somewhere where Spanish is spoken, in the near future?


  2. Hey Riley! I always enjoy reading your progress. Great work with your progress on Duolingo!! I know how much time it takes to get where you are! I can definitely empathize with your Duolingo addiction. It’s the only thing that I’m sure is worth my time for language learning – probably because it provides measurable progress that reassures advancement. It’s also the only constant in my language learning word as well. Would you be interested in trying to watch a show in Spanish? I’ve heard good things about La Casa de Papel on Netflix – You could try watching it in Spanish with English subtitles. Might be worth a try!


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