As I think you all already know, a short time ago I started studying a foreign language: Spanish! Obviously, I know that most of you are Italian students, but I think that no matter what language you study, everyone has the same doubts, and can all take the same advice to learn as best as they can – these tips are not only the ones that I give to my own students, but also the ones that I use myself! For this reason, I decided to show you my weekly study routine, everything I do every single day of the week to learn and keep my motivation high.
WHAT I DO IN A WEEK TO LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
I’m warning you, it’s not much. Unfortunately, I have a very limited amount of time I can spend studying, between classes, videos and all the rest… but I have actually found a great solution to solve this problem and it’s an app called SPEAKLY. It makes it possible to study a language even if you have very little time – I myself spend between 10 and 30 minutes a day studying Spanish.
No more talk… and let’s start with my routine as a student learning Spanish with Speakly…!
Most people hate Mondays, but I really like to start my week with an energy boost: I set my alarm quite early, and I do some yoga, then I get my cup(s) of coffee and I devote 10-15 minutes to the study of new Spanish words.
Now, let me explain how Speakly works – it’s really simple, actually: you just have to open the app, go to the “study area“, click on “keep studying”, and continue studying the language. The way in which Speakly allows me to study new words is very stimulating and varied: I can use some flashcards to learn a new word or sentence, and they also include a translation in my language; the app also reads the word for me so I can learn the pronunciation – I usually repeat it aloud a few times so that I can memorize and improve the pronunciation. There’s also a super cool feature: for each flashcard, if you click on the icon of the book, there are some “pillole di grammatica” (grammar rules in a nutshell), which are extremely useful notions about that specific word or sentence. For example, if there is a gender-specific noun in its masculine form, it tells me the feminine form too; it also says if the plural is irregular or not, and plenty of other useful information. If there is a verb instead, the app provides you a chart that includes all verb tenses and modes… which is super convenient because I don’t have to look any of these things up anywhere else! So, this app solves any problem and dispels any doubt with a simple click! Besides, in between flashcards I revise all those I’ve just learnt by doing various exercises – such as transcribing and even talking! It obviously points out your mistakes and it suggests repeating once more in case your pronunciation wasn’t that good.
After just 15 minutes of doing so, I feel ready to face the rest of the week!
On Tuesdays, I usually dedicate my time to one of my favorite sections of Speakly: that called “live situations.” In this section you’ll find more than 30 different situations that include contexts such as at home, at the store and many more – the goal would be to expand your vocabulary and you can actually unlock more situations as you learn more words. At the moment I have only unlocked 3 but I can already tell you that this feature is the coolest thing ever… it’s almost like talking to an actual person, whenever and wherever I want! Basically, this section recreates an authentic conversation: I listen to a sentence, and then I have to reply; after I have spoken, I get an answer back – it’s basically an interaction, a real conversation.
For the moment, the conversations are pretty easy because I’m still at a beginner level – but I’m sure that they gradually become more complex… and don’t think that it always tells you that you’re right, because it is not the case! If I make a mistake, it definitely points it out! My advice is then to repeat each interaction multiple times until you achieve perfection.
As you have probably noticed, Speakly makes the process of learning a foreign language faster, but certainly not easier – it allows you to learn a little bit every single day. By doing so, consistency will reward you for sure!
On Wednesdays I relax a little bit: generally speaking, I take some time to watch some videos on YouTube. There are many funny and interesting Spanish Youtubers that I actually follow – I’m not talking about just the kind of Yotubers that teach you a language, but also those who cater to a Spanish audience and talk about topics that I find interesting. When I watch these videos, I listen and I try to understand as much as possible… I basically learn by listening to true native speakers!
In case you were curious, these are the Spanish Youtubers I watch consistently:
- Ruben y El Mundo
- Luisito comunica
- ¡Que Viva La Cocina!
Also, if I’m in a place where I cannot listen to a video -or, in general, to supplement these videos- I read a little bit, which never hurts. My readings usually consist of magazine articles that I’m particularly interested in and newspapers, for instance, but I often use Speakly section called “blog.” Here you’ll find articles dedicated to those who study foreign languages – just like me and you! Once you select the language you want to read in, it immediately shows you a long list of interesting articles written in an entertaining way which, in a way, lighten the burden of studying – for example, there are always some emoticons!
When you are learning a foreign language, my advice is to constantly look some topics up – topics you’re interested in, because it should never be a duty, an order… on the contrary! For example, you could find a Youtube channel or a podcast that deal with subjects that are related to your hobbies or your job.
Everybody knows that speaking a new language creates some pressure, especially if you’re a beginner. I always tell my students that the only way to get over it is to start talking with native speakers right from the start – you must fight you fear and start talking because if you wait to achieve perfection in order to never make a mistake, you will never talk. Did you think I wouldn’t follow my own advice? At first, talking with a native speaker is complicated, I am very aware of that, because you always want to make a good impression – obviously, my advice is to put all these worries aside and choose a tutor that is there to help you, and not judge you.
So, on Thursdays I try to schedule a session with a native speaker… thanks to Speakly, of course. On the left side menu, you will find the item “get a tutor“, where you will be able to choose a native speaker that suits your needs… and please, talk and do not be scared! Another option would be to talk with people you already know, maybe friends or family members whose native language is exactly the language you are learning – frankly, a session with a qualified teacher would be better because they can give you some indication, information, and tricks. Talking with them will also get you used to the “real” pronunciation.
Fridays can be intense days full of work, or the day you can’t wait to end to finally begin the weekend – either way, on Fridays we must study… no ifs and buts! To me, Fridays are listening days on which I usually dedicate my study session to watching Youtube videos or listening to podcasts – again, I know you’re here to learn Italian but I’m going to write down a list of Spanish podcasts I listen to quite often, just in case someone might find it useful:
- La Parroquia
- Notes in Spanish
- El Explicador
In addition to some podcast episodes or a Youtube video, I also practice using Speakly (are you surprised?). In the app, you can find the section “listening exercises” and, again, it’s very engaging because, just like a video game, it’s all about winning rewards: the more you study and commit, the more you advance in difficulty by unlocking new lessons – you cannot deny that Speakly is a motivating app!
You are probably wondering how these listening exercises work, aren’t you? Well, basically, you listen to some recordings (which are usually 4-5 minutes long) which can be customized in many ways, such as by adjusting the reading speed, read the text in the original language as you listen to it and even read a translation in your own language. I usually listen to it without the transcript, and I try to understand it without any sort of help; then I read the original text and I rely on the translation only if I have doubts concerning the meaning of certain words, or if I don’t know them at all… and I advise you to do the same. Besides, you can do all this without even leaving the app… ever!
Saturdays are days to relax, so I usually do those things that I enjoy the most, such as listening to music. I listen to it all day long, no matter what I’m doing – I listen to it when I’m taking a shower, when I’m cooking and even when I edit my videos! I listen to any genre (depending on my mood) and language (not just in Italian)… I actually listen to a lot of Spanish songs! Actually, it is something that I started doing way before I decided to learn Spanish, because I find songs in Spanish to have a very lively rhythm – it’s the kind of rhythm that makes me happy, puts me in a good mood and gives me energy.
I think that Speakly is incredible even when it comes to music: thanks to its section called “music recommendations“, you can find playlists created specifically for those who are learning a certain language. In this section, you can listen to these songs for a few seconds before deciding if you like them or not, and if you do you can them directly to your favorite music platform (Spotify, Youtube, etc.). Thanks to Speakly, I discovered many Spanish singers that I had never heard of before but that I listen to quite often now – they are not your typical, mainstream artist, but rather the kind of singers the native speakers listen to.
As I have already told you, on Saturdays I do whatever I like… but it doesn’t mean I only listen to music ! Actually, in the afternoon or evening, I must watch either a movie or a couple of episodes of a TV series – strictly in the original language, of course! At first, I really needed Italian subtitles, but now I can confidently watch a movie with Spanish subtitles and be completely surrounded by the language!
Sundays are the days for big revisions: I usually take stock of the week, evaluating the progress I’ve made and planning my goals for the following week.
With Speakly I can easily revise all the words I’ve learned during the week thanks to the section called “review“, which allows me to review literally everything I have studied in the previous days. As usual, the method is quite fascinating: the app provides a diverse series of dynamic and interactive exercises which all take around 5-10 minutes.
However, the most important part of the day is when you set your goals – the idea is not to get anxious every single day and force yourself to achieve a goal, but rather to keep track of your progress. By doing this, you will keep your motivation high, for sure!
This article ends here. I hope you found useful and don’t forget to comment if you have any doubts about learning Italian or any other language! You can also comment if, on the contrary, YOU have some advice for me too! Having talked about podcasts and Youtube channels, I suggest you go and check our article (and video!) about the Italian Youtube channels and Podcasts that we think could be extremely useful to improve your Italian.