Mission Complete!

Neil Armstrong

I sat the A2 DELE exam on Saturday which was the final stage of my experiment to see if I could learn a language by memorising a phrasebook.  This is the phrasebook I used. 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

Faster / ¡M­ás rápido!

Carl Lewis

English (traducción español abajo)

I am learning Spanish by memorising a phrasebook.  It has three sections.  The first section is about 300 general phrases that might be useful for a tourist, things like “Where is the train station?”

The second section contains a whole lot of verbs.  And the third section is 900 words of vocabulary.

At last I have made it to the third section.  And I am finding it easier to memorise individual words rather than phrases.

I’ve got three-and-a-half weeks till my Spanish exam, so I’m picking up the pace a bit – learning thirty words (from Spanish to English and vice versa) each day.  I’m really enjoying going faster as I feel a real sense of accomplishment.

Today I will learn some words for clothing.



Español no es mi primer idioma.  Si hago un error, ¿podria mi corregir?

Estoy memorizando un libro de frases aprender español. El libro tiene tres secciones. La primera sección es de unos 300 frases por turistas, por ejemplo “¿Dónde está la estación del tren?”

La segunda sección contiene muchos verbos. Y la tercera sección es 900 palabras de vocabulario.

Al fin he llegado a la tercera sección. Y para mi, es más fácil memorizar palabras individuales en lugar de frases.

Tengo tres semanas y media hasta que mi examen de español, así que aprendo mas frases (30 en lugar de 15) cada día. Es muy divertido ir más rápido.  Siento un verdadero sentido de logro.

Hoy voy a aprender palabras por la ropa.

Clothing Vocab List

Heinrich Schliemann



I managed to blog in Spanish last week – which was way earlier than I had ever dreamed possible.  And I owe it all to Henry Schliemann.

Schliemann was an archaeologist and a self-taught polyglot.  In his book, Troy and Its Remains, he describes his method of learning a new language.  Admittedly, he did not have the distractions of radio, TV, movies, the internet or a significant other, but it seems that his method was quite effective.

He wrote an essay in his target language each night, then had it corrected by a native speaker, and memorised it by heart.

So I decided to write last week’s post in Spanish with the help of my trusty dictionary.  It took me about two hours, but I did it.

I will try to keep posting in English and Spanish from now on.


 Español no es mi primer idioma. Si he cometido un error, ¿me podría corregir?

 La semana pasada yo escribí mi entrada en el blog en español, mucho antes de lo que pensé que sería posible, gracias a Henry Schliemann.

Schliemann era un arqueólogo y un polígloto. En su libro Troy and Its Remains (Troya y Sus Restos), el describe su técnica por aprender un idioma. El no tenía los distracciones de la radio, la tele, las películas, el internet o una otra significativa, pero su técnica parece efectivo.

Él escribió un trabajo en el idioma que quería aprender cada noche.  Después un hablante nativo lo corregido.  Schlieman entonces lo cometido a su memoria.

Decido escribir la entrada de semana pasada en español con la ayuda del mi diccionario fiable.  Dos horas más tarde, lo ha terminado.

Voy intentar escribir en inglés y español de aquí en adelante.


The_Flirtation by Eugen de Blaas

A friend of mine is a professional translator.  She speaks English, French and Hebrew, and she was kind enough to pass on some advice that her French teacher had given her.   Which is…

“Learning a language should be like a slight flirtation.  As soon as things get serious, it’s not fun anymore.”

Progress Report

I managed to successfully learn 25 phrases (12.5 from Spanish to English, and the same 12.5 from English to Spanish) every day this week.  With some simple sentences I can figure out the meaning of a new word because I know the other words in the sentence.

According to Anki, I’ve learnt 986 phrases (493 both ways) in nine weeks.

It’s like way cool.

A most vexatious matter (i.e. a problem)

This week I finished the “Spanish Phrases” (about 300 of them) section of my phrasebook, and got to the Verbs section.  But instead of the verbs being presented as part of a phrase or sentence, as I’d expected, they’re simply listed in their various conjugations.

One of the good things about learning 10 phrases each day is that it makes the maths that much easier.  25 irregular verbs X 10 different cases, with at least 5 forms for each case = 1250 words to memorise, which will take me 125 days, or 4 months.  And we haven’t even got to the regular verbs yet.

Now, as I will have plenty of time in the seventh circle of hell to conjugate Spanish verbs, I’d rather spend as little time as possible doing it here on Earth.  One of the reasons I am memorising a phrasebook after all is that I only want to memorise stuff that I might actually use one day.

This is where Mr Collins comes in.

Mr Collins!

Mr Collins C

No, not Mr Collins from Pride and Prejudice.  This Mr Collins.

Collins easy learning

This dictionary (Collins Easy Learning Spanish Dictionary, ISBN 9780007253500)  is especially useful because it has lots of helpful phrases to illustrate how words are used in context.  I will look up the verbs that my phrasebook contains in this dictionary, and then memorise the phrases in the dictionary.  I will trust Mr Collins to show me which conjugations are more frequently used by the number of example phrases he has provided for me.  I assume that the more frequently used conjugations will have more examples.

Speaking of Pride and Prejudice, one of the phrases that the dictionary contains is Me dio mucha alegría verla.  Which means “I was very pleased to see her”.  But I think the literal translation is something like “It gave me much happiness to see her.”

Which sounds exactly like something Elizabeth Bennet would say.

Elizabeth BennetA

Progress Report

I successfully learned another 70 phrases this week, which brings my grand total to 350.

Today I will learn some conjugations of the verbs dar (to give) and decir (to say).