Studying—An Update

If you haven’t read the comments on my post Advanced Spanish … Where Do I Go from Here?, please do. There are a lot of great ideas in there. Prithika from the blog Fleas and Dogs in Barcelona made a great suggestion, one I’ve been putting into practice—making daily, weekly, and monthly lists.


Pretend studying my freshman year of college.

Now that I’m fully addicted to my esmarfon, I decided to do my flashcards online. Of course. A friend of mine posted about StudyBlue on Facebook, and I love it. This website allows you to make digital flashcards and store them in your “backpack.” Then you have access to them anywhere—on the web, on your smartphone, on your tablet, and you can even download them and print them out if you so choose (say, a long airplane ride where you don’t to waste precious laptop battery).

The great thing about StudyBlue is the fact that, sometimes, other people have already done your work for you. What? Well, when you start editing your cards, you enter your word into the term space and then tab down to the definition space. If someone else has already worked with this word or term, you can see what they wrote and just click on their card to use theirs. For example, I was working with the word pavonearse, which means to “show off.” (It actually comes from el pavo real, the peacock, an animal that likes to strut its stuff, you know?) And just my luck—someone had already entered that into the box for me! Niiiice, right?

What’s more, you can easily add photos/audio and take personalized quizzes. If you’re so inclined, you can even browse others’ packs to see what they’ve done. You can study just the “wrongs,” which is nice, and not something I often encounter with digital flashcards. I swear, they’re not paying me to write this; I just love the website.

Another thing I like to do—and I admit, I’m lucky—is talk to Mario about the word and see if he can tell me the English equivalent. I really love it when he can’t (I’m so mean), because then I get to teach him something, a rare occurrence.

Ha! Just because you have three degrees doesn’t mean you know everything!

The great thing about what Prithika suggested is that, in her words, “it keeps your lists dynamic.” I oftentimes will study a word, “know” it, and then come back to it later, and have no idea what it means. I’m sure this happens to you too, right? (If not, grrr.)

Anyway, I’m studying for once, and I’m actually happy about it! It’s been a long time since I’ve been this motivated outside of a classroom.

Advanced Spanish … Where Do I Go from Here?

In case you didn’t know, I’m a perfectionist. If you read all my blog posts about Spanish grammar and trying to improve, you might get that impression, but I’ve tried my best not to come off too crazy. Did it work?

I’m trying to take the DELE, otherwise known as the Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera, or Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language. I’d like to take the exam in November, when I’ll already be in Spain. I got this book, El Cronómetro, but the exam format has changed, so I’m not sure just how useful it will be.


So, my question out there to all my Spanish-speaking friends/bloggers:

How do you improve your Spanish if you’re past the point of learning grammar?

I know the verb tenses, the irregular verbs, and how to conjugate. I understand when to use the subjunctive about 95% of the time. I sometimes slip up verbally when using por/para, but I know the right way. My pronunciation is okay, according to Mario. But I still lack vocabulary. However, I swear there are words I read, try to learn, and then forget—and then the cycle repeats itself, which is obviously maddening.

Tell me your strategies. I already have one of those personal dictionaries, and try to speak to him in Spanish, which usually works, unless he switches to English (which he does! all! the! time!).