“How is Your Spanish?” (2 Ways to Help You Learn)

Dear Friends, 
A question I get asked a lot when I talk to people back home (or our Fulbright friends in Madrid) is, “How is your Spanish coming?” 

Meh. It’s not as good as I would like, but it’s not as bad as it could be. At least, I’m much better now than I was!

My “survival” Spanish is actually pretty good. I can order in restaurants. I can ask for directions. I can find things in the grocery. 

I can also ask the most basic of questions. 

It’s my conversational Spanish that isn’t as good. A large part of that is that people speak normally (quickly) in social situations and there is often less context for what they are saying. This, of course, isn’t helped by the occasional Gallego I hear because we’re living in Galicia. A lot of the time, I have to go through the extra process of “Was that Galician?” before I can even get to “Do I know any of these words?” 


Of course, by the time I process these questions, often the speaker has moved on and I am completely lost to the conversation. 

But, I am getting better and a large part of this is because I am using as many (free) resources as I can in addition to my cultural immersion. 


1. Duolingo

This is the resource I have been using the longest. After I met Jazmin and decided that if I was going to marry her, I ought to know at least a bit of Spanish. 

It is a completely free app on your phone or tablet which walks you through the process of learning a language. It also ranks your language usage, though I don’t put much stock in this because it tells me that I am “now at 4% proficiency almost every day. I don’t know if it is on a meter or how it measures this. 

It also has bots which generate a conversation with you, so that you CAN practice your conversational Spanish.


2. Coffee Break Spanish

This is a podcast resource and has an additional paid subscription called “Premium Members” and they don’t just have Spanish– they at least have French (and I’m fairly certain they have German)– but I subscribe to it free as a podcast. It means I only get the radio show and no additional resources, but I feel like I learn a lot EVERY EPISODE. 


Of course, what makes both of these things really great right now is that I am able to use the new things I’ve learned and apply them straight away in my conversations while living in Spain. 

If you have more money than us (which isn’t difficult) and are coming to Spain for an extended time, you might consider lessons from a local language school. There is one fairly close to where we live that would have taught me either Spanish or Gallego, but we decided against that since we are living  on a tight budget. 

Ya está (that’s it), I hope you are having a great time wherever you are! If you missed it, I launched a Patreon page this week. This is a way that you can support me as a writer and would be a huge help in me expanding my creative possibilities. My first goal: raise $5. That’s the cost of an app which would allow me to begin to narrate books, voice act, and podcast– all from my iPad. Please take a look by clicking here. Thanks! 

Best wishes, 

Blake

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