Monthly Archives: December 2013

Spanish by the Numbers: Goals for 2014



I know it’s trendy to eschew New Year’s Resolutions.

But I actually like New Year’s Resolutions!  Goals are important, and a new year seems like a very good time to set some new ones.

When I first started learning Spanish, I counted minutes. It made sense at the time, but as my level changes, so do my needs as a learner. My aim for this year is massive input and output, using mainly native materials.

My plans for Spanish in 2014:

Speaking: 100 Skype conversations

To count, each conversation has to be a minimum of 30 minutes in Spanish. I plan on using a mix of paid tutors and free language exchange partners. Italki is currently beta testing “on demand” 30-minute tutoring, so I hope to be able to use that service whenever I have a few unexpected free minutes.

Listening: 100 TV episodes

For ease of tracking, I’m going to count 45 minutes as a TV episode. If I watch a movie, it will count as two episodes. Within the past few months, I’ve discovered that – amazingly – I don’t hate dubbed shows! I’ve always been a dubbing snob, until I started watching BUFFY LA CAZAVAMPIROS (you have to shout that out with campy over-enthusiasm, just like the male announcer at the beginning of each episode). I especially love the actress who voices Willow. My comprehension is very good – probably because I’m a huge Buffy nerd who’s already seen the entire series several times. I’m also aiming for lots of native TV shows. We’re currently nearing the end of season 2 of Isabel.

Reading: 14 novels

This year I’m aiming for massive reading input, using mainly children’s novels. I plan on reading the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson series and the Hunger Games trilogy. I’ve read the Hunger Games trilogy in English, as well as the first two or three HP books and the first Percy Jackson book. The rest of the books will be new to me in Spanish. I look forward to seeing how much my comprehension and vocabulary improve in 2014!

Writing: 100 short informal texts

I’ll admit it: I already have a bad attitude about this. I don’t enjoy writing in Spanish. There, I said it. Everything else – reading, watching TV, listening to podcasts, talking to people, even doing grammar worksheets – feels like play. Writing feels like work. But I think that it’s an important next step in my Spanish-learning journey. A short text is exactly that – short. It can have as few as 100 words. The goal isn’t length, but quality. Maybe I’ll even try to do a few blog posts in Spanish this year!

Tracking my progress

I’ve made up a simple low-tech tracking sheet with four tables with numbered cells, one for each skill. The only tracking I’ll need to do is colour in a square every time I work on something.


I told you it was low-tech. I didn’t think it was worth posting the document here for download, but if you want it, let me know!

The Big Picture

I’m currently in the dreaded intermediate plateau of language learning. When you first start learning a language, your knowledge and abilities grow by leaps and bounds. The farther along you get, the more effort you have to put in for what feels like very little progress. I’m hoping that this balanced approach to input and output in Spanish will help me get over my current plateau!

Happy New Year, friends! What are your plans for language learning in the coming year?

Side note: I know that it’s been a while since my last update. I’ve gotten a few emails from people asking if I’m still learning Spanish. The answer is a resounding yes. I’m helplessly, hopelessly in love with this language. I went from very part-time contract work to working multiple jobs, and something had to slide for a bit – I decided that I’d rather let the blog slide than the language! But as an added 2014 goal, I’m going to aim for at least one blog post every week. My over-enthusiastic inner voice is shouting out “no, two! TWO!”. We’ll see about that. But I do have a lot of Spanish resources to review…

Soccer image courtesy of Ohmega1982 /