Memorising a textbook

Hola hipsteros,  it’s been a while but I’m back.

I have lots to report, but first up I wanted to let you know that I am attempting to memorise a textbook.  My 13-year-old son is learning Spanish in high school, and for various reasons that I will explore in another post, I think that the way his studies have been arranged, he is almost guaranteed to have the typical secondary high school language experience of at a least a year of study, followed by failure to be able to communicate, and the conclusion that learning a language is just too hard.

So, together we are studying, with the assistance of Anki, Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish.  We have been going through it for five weeks now and are almost at the end of Chapter 7.  There are 45 chapters in all, so we should well and truly finish it by the end of the school year here in the southern hemisphere.

I am doing this because he is interested in mythology, history, religions, art and science, and I can easily envisage him having to learn another language in the future in order to further his career.  When that time comes, I want him to believe that he is capable of learning another language.  And the best way I can think of doing that is to teach him an effective way of learning another language now.

I will report on our progress as we make our way through the course.

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.