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Archive for the ‘El Mariachi’ Category

Forgive another update so soon, but I’m just so excited after these sessions with my tutor recently, and with the progress I’m currently making in Spanish, that I couldn’t help but jump straight on to Travels with Teango to share my experiences and joy and capture the moment.

My session today was really quite intense. Yesterday we discussed topics as diverse as as the Norman invasion and the Aztec legend of Quetzalcoatl, but a lot of the time was also spent getting to know each other. Today the gloves came off, and I was immediately thrown into the deep end acting out role-plays as an orphan child living on the streets of Mexico and a whole variety of other in-depth scenarios and conversations.

Overall, my listening ability is streets ahead of my speaking skills, which is to be expected as I only started talking yesterday and spent the last month just focusing on listening and reading. It’s like I have most of the jigsaw pieces on the tip of my tongue, all passively acquired from listening and reading or studying videos, but every so often I’ll find that there’s a piece missing from the set and I just try to find another way to say it.

Saying that, I’m already taking big strides forward and am able to express myself in a variety of complicated tenses and moods I never thought I’d be able to do, without even having ever formally learned a single Spanish verb conjugation. I prefer to pick up grammar naturally via lots and lots of exposure, and practice the most useful phrases as set building blocks in my conversations. I imagine I’ll soon have to look up a table or two to check I’m doing it right, but in the meantime it’s refreshing not to have to wade through a grammar book or worry about memorising endings. I make loads and loads of grammatical mistakes of course, but my tutor is very very patient, and always ends up guiding me in the right direction. I’m already learning so much this way.

I don’t have a session with my tutor tomorrow, which turns out to be a blessing in disguise, as it’ll give me more time to finish up reading and translating this short book, as well as complete a whole folder full of written assignments and prepare to discuss it all on Thursday.

So back to work for me, and as the Calamity Jane song goes, “Whip crack-away, whip crack-away, whip crack-away!”. 🙂

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I’ve just finished the first 2 hour session today with my native Spanish tutor, and am absolutely thrilled to learn that my level in speaking is already around B1/B2. He was completely taken aback and just sat there laughing when I told him I’d never spoken Spanish before and had only studied reading and listening over the last few weeks.

I could understand pretty much every word he said, could get across the bulk of what I wanted to say, and my writing assignment, which I finished quickly beforehand without a dictionary, didn’t end up in too much red ink either.

He’s an excellent teacher and a very nice guy too – so I think I really struck it lucky this time. He’s also not too shy in giving me lots of homework. 😉 So I now have a whole book “Quiero ser”, and its accompanying short film, to get through by this time tomorrow. Fantástico!

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“El Mariachi”, Day 14/14
(palabras, la música, y mucho más)

Yabla LoMásTv: 2 hours
Translation: 0.5 hours
TV: 0.5 hours (“El Internado”)

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Total time today actively studying Spanish: 2.5 hours

Total time spent studying Spanish during this experiment: 59 hours

Total time actively studying Spanish so far: 150 hours
Additional light immersion with music and TV: 41 hours
Grand total of Spanish study and immersion: 191 hours [28 days]

NOTES

Its already time for this little experiment to bid farewell and for our hopeful mariachi to start having real conversations with a native Spanish speaker next week. Please see my summary on my weekly log.

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“El Mariachi”, Day 13/14
(palabras, la música, y mucho más)

Just a day of chilling out with friends and football frenzy later this evening. So no language study for me today, I’m afraid. USA put in a good solid performance, whereas England seemed a little bit sluggish and not very together on the whole. I’m also not so confident in the current line-up, and miss Beckham’s reassuring presence to be honest. And what a performance from Green, I need that extra drink now!

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“El Mariachi”, Day 12/14
(palabras, la música, y mucho más)

SUMMARY

Yabla “LoMásTv”: 7.5 hours (music videos)
Preparation for tutor: 2.5 hours (schedule, writing and discussion assignments)

————————————————————

Total time today actively studying Spanish: 10 hours

Total time spent studying Spanish during this experiment: 56.5 hours

Total time actively studying Spanish so far: 147.5 hours
Additional light immersion with music and TV: 40.5 hours
Grand total of Spanish study and immersion: 188 hours [26 days]

NOTES

I managed to clear my calendar for today and put in some half-decent hours of Spanish. And fitting in with the title of this experiment, I spent most of this time studying music videos and learning choruses off by heart. I even played some tunes on my old battered guitar and pretended I was a “real mariachi”, serenading my grumpy neighbours and the surrounding 50 layers of emulsion and concrete wall that separate us (you’ll know just what I’m talking about if you live in a flat in Germany) with Spanish songs of love and loss and everything in-between of course.

The variety and quality of Spanish music out there is simply amazing too, and I think that Yabla is a great way to go about picking up new tunes (along with lyrics and translations) when you initially don’t know where to start.

And my hot salsa dip tip for today is…be careful not to pronounce the word “tomate” as “te mato” when out rummaging amongst a Spanish grocer’s greens, it may well lead to a frightful misunderstanding… 😉

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“El Mariachi”, Day 11/14
(palabras, la música, y mucho más)

Typical…unfortunately some emergency contract support work came up today, and I’ve had to spend the whole day fixing software instead. I’m working hard to have it all done and dusted later this evening, and am keeping my fingers crossed for a “clear blue sky” day of study tomorrow now.

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“El Mariachi”, Day 10/14
(palabras, la música, y mucho más)

SUMMARY

Vocabulary: 1 hour
Pronunciation: 1 hour
Background listening: 2 hours (music)

————————————————————

Total time today actively studying Spanish: 2 hours

Total time spent studying Spanish during this experiment: 46.5 hours

Total time actively studying Spanish so far: 137.5 hours
Additional light immersion with music and TV: 40.5 hours
Grand total of Spanish study and immersion: 178 hours [24 days]

NOTES

Nothing much to say today, as I didn’t really knuckle down to language study, and just dabbled a bit instead. With the end of the week fast approaching, I’ve really got to pick up the torch again and put in some real hours. I’m hoping tomorrow will be a more productive day.

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