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 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.
Or you can watch a short film/video with subtitles, this is my short films playlist.
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.
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.
This is an excellent resource too, slightly more challenging because you get more Spanish here, but if you take your time this will really improve your listening skills.
It takes the structure of a radio show, and you follow a story in different episodes, which can make it extra motivating and exciting.
Español automático podcast
Lessons in Spanish about different points (grammar, learning or cultural) - Advanced level
Veinte mundos read and listen
Narrations in Spanish (South American) with the text in front of you. You can choose by different sections: art/culture, traveling/geography, economy/society or short stories.
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.
MARTES - Reading
Today you can do a reading exercise from your teacher or:
Read one of the texts/transcripts from the podcasts we talked about and try to find new vocab up (use wordreferenceor similar dictionary).
Read a paper book. 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".
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.
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.
Go back to some past grammar exercises and do them mentally, or on paper again.
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).
Quizzes for verbs and conjugation online
Spanish verbs online - verbs meaning quizz to insert the new verbs you want to recap/memorize.
Conjuguemos - free grammar and tenses exercises
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.
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 :)