For the first time, in the early morning, a dedicated student took the bus to school. Suddenly, she burst through the door at home during lunchtime, five hours after she left. Surprised, I looked up at her from my writing. All she said was, “I hate the bus and I hate Bellflower”. I was shocked. She was supposed to be in school, not in front of me upset.
She was in big trouble if there was no reasonable explanation. The day before, I showed her the school, the bus stops, where to get on and where to get off, the bus route number. I even gave her maps with schedules. So what happened?
She got lost. She got on the wrong bus that took her somewhere she did not want to go.
This happens often with any pursuit – putting on a pair of matching socks, construction projects, roasting a turkey, driving on the freeway. People get lost, give up and fail miserably all the time.
Learning Spanish is no different.
Every journey needs a plan with a starting point, a destination, and a way to get there. Without a plan, language learners get lost all the time – frustrated, overwhelmed, bored, embarrassed, sick of trying, and sick of failure. Some people just give up on the way.
I will walk you through three steps to making a successful language learning plan. That way you can get a picture of what language skills you have today, the skills you want to have at the end, and how to learn Spanish on your own. Today, the focus is on your current abilities.
Step 1 – What is your skill level today?
Right now, to start with, it’s time to get a snapshot of how well you are able to communicate in Spanish. No need to get academic or prove extensive grammar knowledge. A simple reality check of four key areas is necessary to see where you are today.
Four Language Skills
The Spanish language is a travel bag with four compartments. Each compartment is one language skill. Each compartment could be full, empty or a complete mess. That depends on what you have already put in the bag.
The four language skills are listening, speaking, reading and writing. The bag has two sides – one side has oral skills and the other side has written skills. Each side is divided into two parts – comprehension and expression. These are fancy words for how well you can understand someone and make sense to someone else.
Each compartment or language skill has a unique area of specialty.
Most people assume all four compartments are getting filled equally. But this is not necessarily true.
For example, a textbook could focus on reading and writing skills and not do a very good job at building oral skills. Or, an immersion program that has no written element might focus only on listening and speaking skills. It is also possible that you are not processing a skill effectively.
So don’t assume that because you repeated and drilled that you have a skill. This evaluation is based only on what you have used in real life.
Right now, open up your Spanish language bag to see what skills you have packed inside. Look at each compartment individually and rate your experience in that area. You might be surprised what you find.
Zero means no experience. Ten means perfect skill ability.
0 I never heard anyone speak Spanish.
5 I occasionally understand what someone says in Spanish.
10 I understand everything someone says in Spanish with every kind of accent possible.
0 I never spoke to anyone in Spanish.
5 I speak Spanish occasionally and sometimes I make sense.
10 I say everything correctly in Spanish and I sound like a native speaker.
0 I never read anything in Spanish.
5 I read and understand some things written in Spanish.
10 I regularly read letters, articles, and books in Spanish with complete understanding.
0 I never wrote anything in Spanish.
5 I can write a sentence in Spanish that makes sense.
10 I can write letters, novels, articles and persuasive speeches that are extraordinary in Spanish.
You should have a score for each language skill that will be your starting point for your language learning plan. Share your experience ratings in the comments below, just like I did. And write them down for yourself too. This will be your starting point you will look back on as you move forward.
Learning Spanish Checklist
This is the first step in making a language learning plan. Congratulations, you now have the first step complete – you know your current skill level!
Meanwhile, download the Learning Spanish Checklist. This freebie will help you get back into a learning plan. There are five areas to make sure you cover as you move forward.
To sum it up, I was proud of my lost student. Yes, she was lost, discouraged, and frustrated. But once she figured out where she was (Bellflower), where she wanted to be (home) and how to get there (on the bus the other way and walking), she had a successful journey home (and to school). Well done, my dear.
Could it be that the same happened on your Spanish language learning journey? Maybe you never had a plan, knew what skills to build, or how to become proficient. It’s quite possible you were bored, overwhelmed, tired, or frustrated with your program. It’s never too late to start again by making a successful language learning plan.
Ready for the next step?
<<< Step 2- Your Dream Destination >>> Link available after Tuesday, October 22, 2019