Persevere your way to language learning success!

“Perseverance is not a long race.  It is many short races one after another” – Walter Elliot

In my last post I mentioned that the most important thing you have to do to learn a language is to simply persevere.  That’s easier said than done, but here are a few ideas that might be useful. Continue reading

Hard Data

I just realised I have been learning Spanish for exactly five months today.

I started on 18 June, 2014.  You can read my first post here.

One of the things I like about Anki is that it is good at collecting data.

I’ve been learning for 22 weeks (154 days)

I’ve learnt 1628 phrases/words, which works out at 11 phrases/words per day.

I studied 127 days out of 154 (82%)

On average, I studied for 32.1 minutes per day

If I had studied every day, it would have been 26 minutes per day.

I sit my exam on Saturday!

I did it!


I’m happy to say that today I learnt the last of 1500 phrases in my phrasebook.

I can think and speak in Spanish, but I’m still not fluent.  I still have to mentally search for the right word, so I speak quite slowly.

I have ten days until my DELE exam.  There are four tests – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Can’t talk, must study.

Wish me luck!

Lisa Simpson

¡Lo hice!


Estoy contento decir que hoy he aprendido los ultimos frases en mi libro de mil quinientos frases.

Puedo pensar y hablar en español, pero mi español todavia no es fluente. Necesito ya buscar por las palabras por tanto hablo lentamente.

Hay diez dias hasta mi examen. Voy a revisar y preparar. Hay pruebas de comprension auditiva, comprension de lectura, de interacción y expressión oral, y de interacción y expression escrito.

No puedo hablar todo el dia, debo estudiar.

¡Deséame suerte!

Lisa Simpson

How will I know (if I can speak Spanish)?

Yo hipsters,

I mentioned last week that I consider Toxic by Britney Spears to be a perfect pop song.

I’m currently working on an eight-hour bio-pic of Whitney Houston called I Will Always Love You but I Wanna Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me and I was amazed to discover that the original lyrics to How Will I Know? were;

How will I know if I can speak Spanish?

I talk to strangers but no one understands me.

They look at me just like I’m a freak.

How could I know the “h”s are silent?

No wonder Janet Jackson passed on that song.

But it occurred to me that in order to see if my experiment of learning Spanish by using Anki to memorize a phrasebook is successful, I need some form of external, unbiased, standardized testing.

And there are such tests.  They’re called the Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE – Diplomas of Spanish as foreign language).


It turns out that there will be an exam on November 22, about a week after I’m due to finish memorizing my phrasebook.

At this stage, I’m considering sitting for the B1-level diploma.

The B1-level test accredits language users’ capacity to:[9]

  • Understand the main ideas of clear texts, in standard language, if they involve well-known topics related to work, studies or leisure.
  • Handle most of the situations in a trip
  • Produce simple texts about common topics or interested subject matters.
  • Describe experiences, events, wishes and hopes, as well as briefly justify opinions or explain plans.

I will reassess whether this is an achievable goal closer to the exam date.

Progress Report

I successfully learned another 70 phrases this week, which brings my total to 280.

I didn’t learn any on Sunday, but made up for it by learning 20 phrases on Monday.

As a reward for reading this post all the way to the end, why not treat yourself to Whitney’s perfect pop song (with the revised lyrics)?