Learn English – What about your progress? Do you have a goal for 2020?

Are you (or your students) pleased with how well you (they) can do in English?  What improvement is noticeable?

As we walk through these final days of 2019, I’ve been taking a look back over my own growth and progress in learning Spanish.  Describing what I observe and where I tend to get discouraged, I also share my goal for 2020. And I challenge you or your students to do the same.

 Progress & Goals 

Hey there. This is Maria from English without Fear. It’s almost the end of December and I’ve been thinking about my progress with Spanish. Are you thinking about your progress with English? Have you thought about any new goals for 2020? Well, listen to my experience and my thoughts and then you can think about what you want to do in two thousand and twenty.

(Intro: English without Fear where you can learn to speak English naturally, through listening to stories.)

Yes, I’ve been thinking about the past year, what I can do now with Spanish compared to last year, last December.  I started thinking about this because I went to lunch a few weeks ago with a Colombian friend, Lina. 

I’ve been helping Lina with her English since…maybe six months. But she prefers speaking Spanish with me. “Well, Maria, that’s good, right?” 

Yes…but when we went to lunch a few weeks ago, it was very hard. Lina speaks fast. She speaks rapidly. And I can’t understand a lot of what she says. Several times, three times, I said in Spanish, “Lina, please speak more slowly. I can’t understand!”

But, she just had a lot she wanted to tell me. So, I….I got stressed! My brain did not work very well. And when I tried to speak Spanish, it’s like I had forgotten everything.

I left the restaurant feeling discouraged. I thought I had made more progress.

But, I am a language teacher. So, on the way home in the car, I gave myself a pep talk. I said, 

“Maria, you understand how the brain works. You know as a teacher, Maria, that when you feel stressed, your brain shuts down. That’s all that happened. Look, Maria, look at the progress you have made. This time last year, you had only about 180 hours of input –  listening to Spanish, reading Spanish, watching YouTubes in Spanish.”

Now, a year later, I am almost up to 800 hours of input. So, I told myself, I said, “Maria, you’re making progress. It just takes a long time. It takes hours!”

So, friend with your English, don’t stay discouraged, if you’re feeling discouraged. You know it’s gonna take a long time. Any skill, any language, takes hours and hours and hours.

Well, how many hours? I read a blog post from a friend, Michele Whaley in Alaska. Russian is the first language she teaches and she speaks some French. But, she’s been teaching three semesters, a year and a half. She’s been teaching and learning Spanish.

She did not want the job. She told the principal, “My Spanish is not good enough!”  And he said, “You’re an excellent teacher. I know you can teach language!” 

So, she said “Yes”. 

And now it’s her second year and it’s halfway through the second year. And she wrote in her blog post that she feels ….like she can speak and narrate and tell stories to her students in Spanish and she feels a lot more comfortable.

Well, that’s great! So, I wrote Michele, “Michele, how many hours of Spanish input do you think you have?”

And she did the numbers. She made a rough estimate. What do I mean by rough estimate? Not exact. She hasn’t written down every day how much time she spends with Spanish. But she did a rough, a general, estimate and she said, “I think I have about 1600 hours or more of Spanish input.”

That helps me. So, I said to myself, “Okay, I have almost 800 hours. I want to make my goal for 2020 to add another 800 hours of Spanish input.”

Why? Because I want to see, I want to experiment…..I think what will happen, but I want to check it out…..that in another year with about 800 more hours, doubling what I have already, that I will feel more comfortable, more confident in my speaking.

Has anything improved for me? Yes, my comprehension, my understanding. When people don’t speak fast like Lina, my comprehension has really expanded and that encourages me.

But, the best thing that has happened is that my happiness with Spanish, my joy, my contentment, my passion, my desire to keep working with Spanish has really gone up, has increased, has augmented. And that makes me happy.

Well, what about you? What have you seen? What have you noticed that you can do now with English since you started or in the past year? Are you encouraged? Where is there progress and what is your goal for the year?

Tell me, tell me about your progress and tell me your goal. Leave me a comment below this video. 

And if you would like the written transcript for today’s video, once I upload this to YouTube, I will transcribe it and I will post it on my website, www.Englishwithoutfear.com 

I hope you have a slow rest of the holidays. If you are a Christian, ‘Merry Christmas!’ 

And don’t give up. Keep working at your English. You will get better. I will get better with my Spanish if we don’t give up.

Well, that’s it for this episode. I’m Maria, from English without Fear. Talk to you next time. 

(Outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.)




2 thoughts on “Learn English – What about your progress? Do you have a goal for 2020?”

  1. Hi Maria!

    I guess I missed that you were working on Spanish! That was silly of me.

    Love this post. I am impressed that you are keeping track of hours, and wish I’d done that from the beginning.

    Your comment about talking with your friend helped me recall last summer, when I was staying in an Airbnb room of a Spanish-speaking woman. When I mentioned that I was teaching Russian and Spanish, she immediately changed into Spanish. She didn’t blink an eye at my Spanish level, but we spent several hours chatting. I didn’t always understand every word, but my experience with a dear fast-speaking Russian friend has taught me that I should just let the words flow over me and not worry. I had to do the same thing with my host, and it worked! We talked about our moms (I understood hers had had a stroke, though I’d never heard that word), our kids, who all live away from us, and our dreams. She never would have opened up to me in English! She was quite sweet and helpful. I was jubilant, on top of having found a new friend. Now I actively search out potential speakers who don’t know English well.

    You are lucky to have a friend who will talk with you any time!

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Michele – thank you for your comment and the anecdote with your hostess. Good point about letting the conversation wash over you. I wish I had a use for the Spanish right now, like you do. In the meantime I’m trusting God that He WILL open a door for me when the time is right. I never set out to acquire Spanish…I started June 2018 (though I had had exposure at all the tprs conferences) and had been watching some of Pablo’s videos before June 2018, but I started in earnest 18 months ago because I was going to co-lead a trip with the Spanish teacher….france and Spain. Then Mike and I decided we had to leave western NC for his mental and emotional health and he should return to full -time work…and that happened sooner than later and I had to leave my classroom last March 2019 BEFORE the trip in June. But by then I was ‘infected’ with the bug. So now I am focused for the joy…and for the the desire to use it. I”d love to communicate by email more with you. maria@englishwithoutfear.com

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