Category Archives: Language Learning

learning project – studying spanish – final evidence of learning

Este es mi post final por mi Proyecto de Aprender, donde yo estudio español. En mi videos, yo hablo con Rebeca. Nos conocimos en 2019 en un viaje de India y Nepal. ¡Muchas gracias por tu ayuda, Rebeca!

(This is my final post for my Learning Project, where I study Spanish. In my videos, I talk with Rebeca. We met in 2019 on a trip to India and Nepal. Thank you very much for your help, Rebeca!)

Donde Yo Soy / Where I Am

In my first update post for this project, I mentioned that I wanted to demonstrate my final learning by recording myself speaking Spanish with someone. I tossed around a few ideas of who I could talk to, but nothing seemed quite right. I thought about conversing with:

  • my sister (she had been learning Spanish on Duolingo, but has since dropped off doing the app, and I didn’t think two beginner learners would be able to have a very good conversation)
  • my uncle (he knows sufficient Spanish to get around in Costa Rica, where he has a vacation home, but he isn’t a native speaker)
  • a user on Tandem (I tried asking someone I had been chatting with for a while if they’d be open to my recording a session of us chatting, but I think they were a bit freaked out by this – reasonably so! haha)

Just as I was beginning to give up hope on my idea of speaking Spanish with someone, Rebeca answered my prayers and, seemingly, fell into my lap! When she followed me on Duolingo, a lightbulb instantly went off – I knew a native Spanish speaker from my previous travels! I asked Rebeca if she would be interested in having a conversation with me on Zoom and she graciously agreed. Last Thursday (day 37 of learning Spanish for me), we sat down for a Zoom conversation and spoke almost entirely (I’d say 95%) in Spanish for about 20 minutes!

I’m sure many people won’t want to listen to a 20 minute conversation in another language, so I have created two different videos that you are welcome to check out below.

This video is a shortened version with some of the ‘highlights’ of our conversation.

If for some reason, you want to check out the ‘full meal deal,’ this is the video for you.

There are chapter titles in the video so viewers can tell what topic we are discussing in each section. I wanted to include the full conversation to have an authentic artifact that captures my progress at this juncture.

Rebeca was an amazing conversational partner, who understood my stilted and hesitant sentences, offered clarifications on things I didn’t know, and provided lots of complimentary feedback! Being able to have a conversation in Spanish with a native speaker was an invaluable experience – I was very nervous, but also left our Zoom conversation buzzing with pride and excitement. Thank you again to Rebeca for being so generous with her time and agreeing to speak with me and be recorded for this project – I literally could not have done it without you!

¿Que Proxima? What Next?

I fully intend to continue learning Spanish, and am hoping to jump into a more intensive language Sprint on Lingoda in the fall. I’d love to learn more vocabulary and increase my knowledge of verbs/conjugations, as that is a weak spot for me right now. In addition, I’d like to expand my ability to speak in present or future tense, as I am currently limited to speaking in present tense. I can’t wait to visit another Spanish speaking country and continue to practice my Spanish!

Thanks everyone for joining me on this journey! It has been an absolute blast and I am left feeling so satisfied with how my Learning Project turned out! I am eternally grateful for the opportunity this course gave me to kick-start my Spanish learning and I will definitely continue with this as a personal goal moving forward.


Until next time,


aprender español – número dos (learning spanish – number two)

¡Hola todo el mundo! Es Kara con un actualización de español.

(Hi everyone! It’s Kara with a Spanish update.)

In my previous blog post, I shared that I wanted to practice listening to and speaking more Spanish. Enter Tandem, the language exchange app that I decided to try out this week.

I had a lot to say about this app and the other online resources I tested out this week, so I decided to do my update vlog-style again. My video ended up being a bit longer than I anticipated, so no hard feelings if you don’t want to watch all of it. Feel free to scroll down to my written highlights below.

TL; DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch) Summary

Tandem – a language exchange app where you can chat with native speakers from around the world in a variety of different languages. You get the opportunity to practice the language you want to learn, while also helping out others who want to learn your native language.


  • the app offers both written and audio messaging functions, so you can read, write, listen, and speak in your language of choice
  • the app also offers live video calling (I did not try this function, as I did not feel comfortable)
  • ‘translate’ and ‘comment’ options are embedded right into the messaging platform, so you can translate what someone has said into English if you don’t understand or offer corrections on how to say things properly
  • the app has clearly-defined community guidelines, and you have to be accepted into the community after putting some basic information into your profile
  • there is always someone on the app ready to chat with you
  • way to practice basic get-to-know-you phrases and topics of conversation
  • the app will flag messages that are sketchy or suspicious
  • free version is more than sufficient; don’t need to have the paid version IMO


  • the number of messages and requests to chat can be overwhelming
  • not great if you are only at a beginner level, as you are limited in what you can say and understand (I had Google Translate open while using this app, so I could try to talk about new things and figure out how to say things I didn’t know yet)
  • can be a big time suck (once I got into a conversation with a few people, I would be on the app for over an hour)

Overall, I think Tandem can be an interesting language-learning tool if you are willing to overlook some of its annoying ‘cons.’

News In Slow Spanish – a website that offers short news stories that are 100% written and read aloud in basic Spanish. The website also has podcast-like lessons on a variety of grammar and vocabulary topics that you can listen to (but also read at the same time, as they have included scripts to accompany them).


  • allows you to read about current topics in Spanish and learn new words in an authentic context
  • news articles are read at a slow pace, and you can change the speed to be slower or faster
  • offers pop-up icons with English translations of phrases or words the reader might not know
  • variety of other resources on the website
  • offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of news articles


  • you need a subscription to access full news articles and resources (free trial for one week)

In summary, I really like this platform, but don’t anticipate I will pay $23 US each month to keep this service after my free trial ends.

¿Ahora Que? (What Now?)

  • continue with Duolingo, Drops, and Tandem
  • listen to some Spanish-learning podcasts
  • check out some Spanish content on TikTok

¡Gracias por leer mi publicación! (Thanks for reading my post!)

Hasta la proxima vez (Until next time),


“drops” in the bucket – testing out another language-learning app

Hi everyone! I’m back with another update on my Learning Project of taking up Spanish. It continues to be ‘muy divertido y interesante’ (very fun and interesting).

I am still keeping up with Duolingo, and am up to a 23 day streak! I continue to enjoy this app. Check out my previous blog post for my review of Duolingo.


This week, I have also been focusing on another app: Drops. This app was suggested to me by Mike A. in a comment on my blog – thanks so much for the recommendation, Mike! Here are a few details about Drops and my thoughts:

  • a language-learning app (acquired by the famous Kahoot! educational platform) with different vocabulary topics you can explore – ex. Counting, Train Trip, Pronouns, Shapes, Food
  • you play on the app for intervals of 5 minutes with a visual timer counting down in the corner, which I like
  • there are a few different screens that pop up during the 5 minute learning intervals; they can get a bit repetitive and a particular one (picture below) where you have to maze your way through spelling the word feels a bit more like a word game than a useful language learning activity to me
  • the app incorporates multiple modes of learning: when it introduces a new word that “drops” in, it will show the written word, play audio of someone saying it, and have a visual picture to represent that term
  • Drops has a daily streak, as well as displaying other stats, such as how many new words you’ve learned, your total accuracy percentage, and accuracy on individual words
  • this app is great if you’d like to expand your vocabulary on specific topics; however, it only involves spelling words, listening to/reading words and then matching them to the correct visual
  • as far as I can tell, there is no speaking element to the app and it only deals with singular words or short phrases, not full sentences
  • there is a paid version called “Premium” that offers some additional perks (like unlimited learning time each day); I signed up for a free trial that lasts for 2 weeks

In conclusion, I will continue to use Drops to keep expanding my topic-specific vocabulary, but I don’t like this app as much as some of the other online tools I’ve tried because of its lack of speaking opportunities and full sentences.

Writing in Spanish – Three Weeks In

One exercise I tried out was writing as much as I could about myself in Spanish without the use of any tools. I did this in a few small chunks of sentences and then inputted my writing into Google Translate as a way to self-check. I had a few small errors and one verb I didn’t know yet (see images below), but overall, I was very impressed with how much I could write after only 3 weeks of wholeheartedly diving into Spanish.

Moving Forward

After completing the writing exercise above, I felt that my writing ability and vocabulary in Spanish were coming along nicely. However, I would also consider these to be the easier skills in a new language, whereas understanding spoken conversations and speaking yourself are more complex and difficult, as they are happening much faster. With that in mind, I’d like to focus specifically on more listening and speaking activities in the weeks ahead.


For listening, I mentioned previously that I could try out some Spanish language-learning podcasts. I have yet to delve into this and would still like to give this a shot. I could also try to watch a show with Spanish subtitles or dubbing, but feel this might be a big jump in difficulty for my current level of understanding. There are also some listening comprehension activities I found here that I could explore further.


In regards to speaking, this is the aspect of Spanish learning that I am most struggling with where to go next. Lingoda was an awesome tool to promote both listening and speaking, but my free trial has ended and I don’t want to dive into the paid version at this time. This is an area that I will have to do some more research into moving forward. If anyone has any suggestions of tools to try, or knows someone who would want to speak a bit of Spanish with me, please let me know!

Hasta luego,


aprender español – número uno (learning spanish – number one)

Hola amigos! Yo soy Kara y buenas noches!

(Hi friends! I’m Kara and good evening!)

I had a LOT to say about my first few weeks learning Español and didn’t want to have a novel of a blog post, so decided to try my first ever vlog – I even did it in one take! Feel free to watch it on double speed if you want to skim through – no hard feelings here! Or check out my TL;DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch) summary below.



  • Online language learning course (offers multiple languages, not just Spanish) where you take hour-long classes on Zoom with native Spanish speakers and others who are learning Spanish at the same level as you
  • I did a 7 day free trial, which offered 3 free classes (one hour each)
  • I took an Orientation class first, then a class called “Hola!” (Hello) where we learned to introduce ourselves and say hi, and the final one was “¿Cómo Estás?” (How Are You?) where we learned to say how we are feeling and ask others how they are doing
  • You can book classes at virtually any time of the day (various offerings of different classes at every time of day)
  • Slides for the classes are available ahead of time to preview and download with instructor annotations afterwards
  • Materials are 100% in Spanish and instructors speak mostly Spanish (unless you ask what something means in English), so you are fully immersed in the language
  • I’m hoping to try a Sprint (more intensive learning for a short period of time) in the fall – option to get 50% or 100% of your money back if you attend all of your classes
  • Pros: immersive experience, lots of speaking Spanish, helpful materials, easy-to-use website, lots of options for bookings,
  • Cons: pricey if you want the paid version, free trial only had 3 classes available


  • Popular language-learning app that is designed to feel like a game to keep users engaged
  • Get a ‘streak’ for consecutive days spent completing lessons
  • Free trial available for “Super Duolingo” (paid version of the app with unlimited hearts, no ads, additional features like previous mistakes you can review) – lasts 2 weeks
  • I finished the first Section called “Rookie” (level A1 of Spanish – very beginner) and am currently at a 15 day streak
  • Learned mostly basic sentences and words (I have, I want, foods, clothing, places, travel-related words, etc.)
  • Pros: engaging and fun, various kinds of challenges (writing, speaking, reading, listening, etc.), streak helps keep you motivated to keep at it, can follow friends who are also using Duolingo
  • Cons: can get repetitive, will be hard to get used to the regular version once my free trial runs out

I have, honestly, gone pretty hard the first two weeks of my project, so am feeling a bit lost of where to take my Spanish learning next. Here are my goals moving forward:

  • Keep my streak going on Duolingo for the duration of this project
  • Try out some other Spanish learning resources (websites, games, YouTube, podcasts, TikTok?)
  • Record a brief video of myself speaking Spanish at the end of this project (maybe see if my sister or someone else I know will do a basic conversation in Spanish with me?)

Muchos gracias por leer mi post!

(Thanks so much for reading my post!)

Until next time (Hasta luego),


hola amigos

The skill I would like to develop as part of my EC&I 831 Learning Project is learning Spanish. I have been interested in taking up Spanish since last summer, when my sister and I visited my aunt and uncle at their vacation home in Costa Rica for 2 weeks.

My sister and I enjoying the stunning view at Vista de Olas in Mal País, Costa Rica.

Being busy with pursuing my Master’s, though, I put this desire on the back burner. It would seem that Spanish really did intrigue me though, as I have taken two other trips to Spanish-speaking countries since (Ecuador/the Galapagos and Mexico). Prior to starting this class, I had a solid plan to start learning Spanish this fall (after my Master’s degree was complete and I would have some more free time on my hands). I was so excited to see that the Learning Project was an option to pursue for this course, so I can dive in to some Spanish learning early.

Where I’m At Right Now:

Currently, I can say some basic words in Spanish that I picked up during my 3 trips in Spanish-speaking countries. This is mostly limited to names of foods (piña, pollo, queso, hamburguesa, naranja, etc.), basic words you’d see on road or shop signs (calle, salida, cerrada, zona escolar, baño, etc.), and some random words (gato, poquito, casa, etc.). Basically, I am starting out as a total beginner.

How I Plan to Develop This Skill:

I have a few ideas already of online-based Spanish learning tools that I would like to try out. Since returning from Costa Rica last summer, my sister has been learning Spanish on Duolingo, so I plan to give that a try. On my Mexico trip, I was talking to a member of my tour group who was an intermediate Spanish speaker, and he recommended Lingoda to me. I have done a bit of research into it, and think I will do a 7 day free trial of it and then jump in fully this fall with one of their 2 month “Sprints.” I’ve also heard that there are some helpful YouTube channels that teach basic Spanish skills, so I plan to do a bit of hunting around on that platform as well. I am a lurker on TikTok (I watch content periodically but don’t produce anything myself), and would be open to checking out Spanish content there as well. I am open to suggestions – if anyone knows of a great language-learning tool, please let me know!

Where I’d Like to Be in 6 Weeks:

At the outset of this project, I’d like to say I accomplished a few things:

  • tried out a variety of online language-learning tools
  • expanded my basic vocabulary to include some more categories of items beyond food and commonly-seen words
  • am able to put multiple words together into a sentence
  • explored various pillars of language – grammar, speaking, writing, listening
  • jump-started my Spanish learning journey so I can visit another Spanish-speaking country in the future and feel more confident in using this language

I look forward to getting this journey started and seeing how I progress over the next few weeks! I can’t wait to see what projects everyone else in the class is going to explore as well. As a teacher, I value lifelong learning and am ready to push myself to develop a new skill.

Do you speak more than one language?
How did you learn your additional language(s)?
Do you have any tips for me as I embark on this language-learning adventure?

Until next time,