Weekly Spanish practice - how to organize your time
Are you learning by yourself and you need some help organizing your time?
You already have a tutor but want to make the most of your time in between lessons?
In this post I'm going to suggest a weekly schedule/division for your practice.
Also, I'm going to recommend some resources that my students personally and I like.
I'm going to go by days of the week but you can modify this and be more flexible with it, using it more as a check list.
LUNES - Listening practice
Monday can be your listening practice day, fresh from the weekend and with renewed energy.
You can do a listening exercise your tutor sent you or you can do one of the suggestions below.
If you have the time and you're in the mood, I recommend listening to the same episode/audios a couple times, maybe on different days. You'll be surprised how much more you can discover in the same audio when you have a clear head!
But also very important is to know that if you have only 5/10 min you can listen to just a bit of one of the audios/podcasts, and that will also make a difference.
You can also watch a short film/video with subtitles, this is my short films playlist.
If you have Netflix and you want to watch shows in Spanish but it's too fast for you, you can try this tool to have subtitles in both languages.
Remember it's better 5 minutes than no minutes, so keep at it and don't let lack of time demotivate you!
Ideas (free of charge):
Current news in Spanish but at a lower pace. You have the option of choosing the "normal pace" too, when you feel more confident. Along with the fact that you have the text in front of you, this makes for a great tool for people of very different levels.
You can choose to listen to sentences or chunks of texts, and you can also choose one or more than one level. It also allows you to play it a bit slower. It goes from beginner to a very advanced level.
Extra, an old bbc show that is silly, funny, and perfect for beginners, and on Youtube.
Conversations in Spanish on Spotify with Joel E Zarate, intermediate to advanced.
How to Spanish, on Youtube, in Mexican Spanish (intermediate to advanced), includes a lot of lively chats on cultural content about Mexico.
This is a website with several free exercises and if you look into the "ejercicios de escucha" there are some very good comprehension exercises based on videos from the Spanish news which I use in my lessons and are great for advanced level, like this one about the cost of tap water in restaurants in Spain.
Most have two or even three exercises and you can access to the transcript for them.
A good podcast for the car. You'll learn some expressions and concepts on different topics, conversational situations, popular grammar points like "por and para" and cultural aspects, it's not overwhelming and it's perfect for beginners.
It takes the structure of a radio show, and you follow a story in different episodes, which can make it extra motivating and exciting, although you will have to pay to access certain sections.
Español automático podcast
Lessons in Spanish about different points (grammar, learning or cultural) - Advanced level
Dictation in Spanish Dictation is a good exercise to do sometimes, it forces you to think about spelling at the same time as listening. This is a good exercise for people of all levels.
Palabras bravas- episodes of 20 something minutes, for people from high beginner to high intermediate, they recap short grammar "problems" and then they play a game with a Spanish learner, a bit too slow for advanced though. One of the hosts is from Spain and the other from Latin America.
Advanced learners can try podcasts for natives, like am , 5min of news every day full of informal expressions, sopitas short snippets of information about different topics or this one with longer episodes, with the well known Spanish host Andreu Buenafuente and the comedian Berto Romero.
MARTES - Reading
Today you can do a reading exercise from your teacher or:
Short stories and poems e-stories.
Read one of the texts/transcripts from listening exercises, podcasts, etc and try to make it more of an intentional practice by pairing the listening and the reading and then find new vocab up (use wordreference or similar dictionary) and writing down on your "vocab notes/list" the most useful ones.
Read a paper book.
Two good options are from Olly Richards: 101 conversations in intermediate Spanish or Short Stories in Spanish which is the generic original version but he has as well one specifically for beginners and one for intermediate learners, but also Victor's adventures, all of them include exercises after a chapter but this last one includes the audio version.
You have some good options online on this publishing company difusión books. When you click on it you have a description of the book and the level (A1/2 - beginner, B1/2- intermediate or C1/2 - advanced).
They have stories, books on famous Spanish people, on cultural traditions (like El camino de las estrellas about the pelgrimage to Santiago de Compostela), at a very good price.
- Regular books in Spanish. Check this post to see a recommended list of books to try, which you can easily order on Amazon.
Ideally you'll check this new vocab with a teacher/native to make sure you got the right translation and understand when to use it, but take advantage of the numerous forums on the internet if the first is not an option.
MIÉRCOLES - Writing
Just write about something, your opinion on a topic, an experience, or what you've done that week.
A great thing about writing is that it adapts very well to the time you have, 4 lines? 4 paragraphs? whatever it is it will go a long way.
Here are some ideas:
A diary in Spanish.
A great exercise to use all different tenses. If you're a beginner, start writing just in present tense, and add future and past gradually, and focus on the vocab and structure rather than "it sounds exactly like I'd say it in English". This is a great way to learn and master the vocab that you need to talk about your day to day and your life.
A story or an anecdote using preterite and imperfect, as that's usually a tricky task and worth practicing. In this post you can learn what's the difference between the two.
Opinion or experience about something. Choose a complex topic that requires some advanced vocab or a simple one.
Examples: mountain or coast? / how to make friends as an adult / siblings or only child? / thoughts on meditation / work life balance / how much privacy do we have/ etc.
- Written stream of consciousness. Just start writing down thoughts that come to mind, even really random or trivial ones. Those will be a good representation of what's in your mind, your believes, your interests,... so you'll be able to work with language that is very personal to you.
The best combination is to then have a debate with your teacher or with someone else (preferably a native but it could be another student) about this same topic when you come together.
Take the opportunity to check your grammar, grids and tenses while you write and include some of the new vocab from the previous weeks, to make this a more all-around exercise.
JUEVES - Tenses, grammar, vocab.
This day would be a bit more "classroom" like.
Quizlet is a good option to create your own lists of vocab, for example from things you read, listen to, or vocab that comes up in lesson, and then be tested/recall them repeatedly which is key for memorisation.
Brainscape is another app, only accessible to Apple, where you can create your lists and get drills for free, even though as with most apps there are locked options that you have to pay for.
Memrise is another good option for vocab learning. The lists are already made and curated according to level, and it shows different people (I'm assuming natives) pronouncing different useful phrases which is nice!
FreeRice A very attractive, simple vocabulary drill/game that can be very useful to keep the habit and donates grains of rice when you use it.
Spanishdict has a bunch of different grammar exercises you can do and get correction on, they are not very challenging but they're good to recap and practice at the very beginning after it's being introduced in class.
Go back to your notes (from lessons or reading) and write sentences with the new vocab to put it into context (this is very important to understand words' meaning). Ideally you'll have someone to check these sentences (teacher or native and even better both in the same person).
Go back to some past grammar exercises and do them mentally, or on paper again.
Quizzes for verbs and conjugation online
Spanish verbs online - verbs meaning quiz to insert the new verbs you want to recap/memorize.
Conjugation quizzes- you can check the conjugation of a verb or access pre-made quizzes on different tenses.
Conjuguemos - free grammar and tenses exercises
Listening practice.org - it gives you the verb and the person and it checks your answer. You can choose level and tenses to be tested.
Also Duolingo has a conjugation option once you create an account (a free account).
- Vocab flashcards.
It can be paper flashcards or just the old "cover and guess" thing, but if you want to try something new this is a list of some ideas.
One that I like is the SpanishDict flashcards where you can imput your own or choose one of the topics.
If you prefer an app, Duolingo has a good flashcards app called "Tiny cards" and Fluent has another app called Anki, this one where you match words to pictures instead of a translation.
And last but not least, ver taal also has vocab exercises and they're pretty good, you can choose the topic, like "house" and go through furniture, parts of the house, etc., highly recommend.
Sounds simple but it's a very good exercise to recap and learn vocab, tenses, expressions and structures. Find sentences in texts, transcripts, and places where the language is very authentic (Spanish for Spanish people) or at least that'd be the end goal.
VIERNES - Talk and share
One day should be dedicated to a lesson (you can also have 2h or more per week but one is usually the minimum for a good habit) where you can practice your speaking skills, solve doubts, correct exercises and do some guided tasks.
If you can't have a tutor you can use this day to have a chat with a native via language exchange (there's loads in each city and some online) where you talk half the time in one language and the half in the other language.
You can add some extra speaking practice with some language exchange meetings or online language exchanges
Also you'll need to learn some new stuff, maybe through some blogs like this one, youtube channels (here is mine) and things that in general mimic lessons.
Finally, here you'll find some recommended options for movies, maybe for some quiet time? :)
Hope that helped you organize your time and know what to cover :)