SS #18: 4 Language Learning Lessons From My 2022

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Now that we’re in a new year, but not far enough in to have given up on our resolutions yet, I thought this would be a good time to discuss something I find helpful in language learning: reflection.

Looking back at my own efforts over the past year (I’ve been learning German for a couple years now), I learned a few lessons that I thought could be helpful as you improve your Spanish this year. 

Here are 4 lessons learned in 2022:

Aimless learning gets you stuck

I’m not a huge planner. I don’t write elaborate to-do lists, organize my tasks in Kanban boards, or track my time.

As a result, this year I lacked a real plan for my learning. 

Without a clear plan and goal, it was easy to learn passively and avoid challenging myself too much.

While I don’t think you need an ironclad plan or lofty goals, there’s no doubt that a north star (a vision for where you want to end up) makes it easier to learn in a focused, consistent way.

To help find that direction, ask yourself questions like…

  • “What went well/not well in my Spanish learning in 2022?”
  • “What am I capable of right now when it comes to speaking, listening, reading & writing?”
  • “What would I like to be able to do with my Spanish in December 2023?”

If it doesn’t happen in the morning, it won’t happen

That’s the case for me, at least.

When I don’t dedicate time before work, 9 times out of 10, I don’t learn actively that day.

You may have a different “best time” of day — the time when you feel most alert, creative and capable of focusing on challenging things.

Figure out what that time of day is, then promise to do 10 non-negotiable minutes of Spanish during that time.

Even if that’s all you do, that’s 61 hours of focused learning this year. And most likely, you’ll do more once you get going each day. 

Getting started is the hard part. Which is why the next lesson is so important. 

Make it easy to start

The more energy it takes you to start learning, the less likely you are to do it.

If you were learning to draw, you’d leave out your sketchpad, pencil and a stack of reference photos to draw from to make it easy to practice each day.

Do the same thing for your Spanish. In a given week or month, pick one thing to be your core source of Spanish input during “focused learning” times (I suggest audio rather than written).

For me, this usually means one YouTube channel or one podcast. That way when I sit down with only 10 minutes in the morning, it takes me 10 seconds to choose what to learn from.

The more time you spend deciding what to do each day, the less time you’re learning.

Writing builds fluency  

Speaking good Spanish is probably more important to you than writing it.

But recent experiences have reminded me how much writing helps my speaking.

A few benefits vs speaking:

  1. You have time to consider what you want to say
  2. Your gaps in relevant vocabulary become clear
  3. You can practice & check grammar without pressure (so that when you’re speaking, you can just speak)

This helps you focus your efforts and make progress on the specific things that matter to you, which then get reinforced through active listening.

This line of thinking inspired my newest YouTube video — click here to check it out.

Reflect on your own Spanish learning efforts in 2022

Consider what went well and not so well, where you improved and where you want to improve more.

Use this to lend your learning a stronger sense of direction, a more consistent routine, and a clearer focus.


P.S. In case you’re looking for something more, here are three ways I can help you:

  1. The Confident Spanish Pronunciation Workshop: The clear, step-by-step system for developing a clear, natural-sounding accent in Spanish in 5 minutes a day.
  2. Roadmap to Conversational: Build the skills you need to become a smarter Spanish learner and confident Spanish speaker (Opening soon. I’m debating offering this 1 on 1 vs small groups — if you’re interested, let me know which you prefer)

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Hey there, I'm Connor. I help motivated learners speak Spanish without slogging through grammar books or tapping through every new app. I started Breakthrough Spanish to give more people the confidence and focus to learn effectively Spanish from home. Learn more about me here.

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