Learn/Teach English – Newsletter – Language Levels

February 2021

Dear Language Friends: 

Today I write for two purposes:  one to offer a video I just viewed about how we acquire language through stories.  Here’s the link. The other reason for this newsletter is to share with you how I FEEL about my own language learning at this point in time. 

I am SO encouraged with my progress in Spanish up to now. But first a brief summary of my experience with Spanish beginning in 1995.  Here’s the timeline of activities:

  • May 1995 – I get hired to teach French (my field) in a new school. As an extra duty, they want me also to offer Spanish enrichment for little kids. I attend a course of beginning Spanish ‘grammar’ at a local university
  • Between 1995 and June 1, 2018 – I encounter Spanish occasionally at language conferences. I greet Hispanics once in a while, but that is it.
  • June 1, 2018 – I start dedicating an hour a day to Spanish immersion through podcasts and videos because I am planning to co-lead a trip to Europe with our school’s French and Spanish students.  But, my husband gets a new job and we move before the trip takes place.
  • December 31, 2020 – I have fallen in love with Spanish, having accumulated 1845 hours of immersion (reading, listening, watching and occasionally speaking Spanish).  

This year, 2021, I am focusing on making myself speak. I am using platforms such as Whatsapp audio and Voxer audio to record stories/accounts taken from my daily life or my past. Each one lasts anywhere from 6-10 minutes. There are 6 Spanish-speaking people in my life who listen to me each week.  Four of them give me written or oral  corrections. For those 4, I do the same for them as they weekly share something in English.  I listen, taking notes, and provide them feedback. My other two language partners and I don’t share corrections, but we do speak to one another once a week.

As a ‘routine junkie’ I schedule MY 6 submissions/exchanges each week. 

Now, just 6 weeks into this practice, I FEEL the improvement in my speaking.  Get this!  ‘Out of the blue’ last week, the thought occurred:  ‘Maria, you have reached the high intermediate level in spoken Spanish’.  It must be my increasing confidence that triggered that thought.  Yes, I know there are ACTFL and European standards that ‘place’ or categorize a learner’s level.  I’m not using any of those objective measures.  I just FEEL my growth and ability inside of me. So, that is what I am calling it – ‘high intermediate level spoken Spanish’.

That’s my good news I wanted to share with you all.  If you’ve gotten this far, then I want to encourage YOU to keep teaching your students patience, reminding them that becoming good at something, no matter the skill or field, takes a consistent investment of time.

And do yourself a favor, if you haven’t started already.  Choose another language to acquire and join the journey. It’ll be fun and make you a more empathetic teacher.

With love,

Maria

 

Hope you, too, are acquiring another L2 so you can see for yourself whether grammar helps.  And if so, in what context. At the very least, being a learner will make you a much better teacher.

 

Happy learning – Happy teaching!

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