David Learns Spanish - Day One

The CEO of Avant's technology partner, Mike Biglan and I decided to take on the joint challenge to self-study Spanish 30 minutes a day for three months, and each write a blog about it.  So today I begin.

It's probably appropriate that today I'm flying to Miami for meetings before heading up to Orlando for the SCOLT Southern Conference Of Language Teachers. If I spoke Spanish I would have many opportunities to use it in Miami.

But I don't speak Spanish. Not really anyway. I have played around with Transparent Language's tools and the Duolingo app. Duolingo says I'm 3% fluent. Not sure what that means, but it's not zero. Way back in the 70's I spent a spring in San Juan working as a waiter and bartender in a classic restaurant in Old San Juan - El Patio de Sam. I don't think it's there anymore, but it was reviewed in the New York Times so it was a pretty good place for both locals and tourists. I mostly handled the tourists, but I learned enough Spanish to take orders from the locals and work with the kitchen, but it was pretty limited, and it was a long time ago.

So what's first? We are each figuring out our goals and our methodology, then we will take an Avant STAMP 4S Spanish test to get our baselines. I am shooting for Intermediate low. At the end we will assess ourselves again on STAMP and see how close we have come to our goals. On the Avant website Benchmark and Rubric Guide it shows that the benchmark for speaking and writing at this level is:

"Strings of Sentences - Variety of sentences that utilize different verbs to create independent thoughts mostly composed of a recombination of learned simple sentences with some added detail. Good accuracy with formulaic sentences with some added detail. Errors may occur as student attempts higher-level skills. Good Language Control is expected with the majority of the response."

Well, maybe I will be able to do that. Right now I can ask how to get the bathroom and understand with some words and hand gestures where to go.

I will do more research in the next few days, but my initial plan is to mostly use Transparent Language's tools because they are rich in content and have powerful technology embedded in them. (Full disclosure, Transparent is a partner of Avant). I will also play with the Duolingo vocabulary app and want to try out their conversation practice tool. I also will look at the strategies Tim Ferris uses for learning a language. He is a fellow Japanese language nerd so I naturally trust his judgment. 

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