Learning Spanish for 30 Days

A challenge that I found interesting which my partner recommended to me was to learn a language. I’ve chosen Spanish because it’s a very common language and I would like to travel to South America in the future.

I’ll be learning Spanish every day for 30 days. I’ll be completing this challenge with my partner. This will help with motivation and definitely help with my memory and ability being able to talk with someone else in Spanish.

For this challenge, I will be learning words, phrases, aspects of the language, rules, numbers, and anything I can. I plan to spend 15-30 minutes every morning learning new things and reviewing what I’ve learned. I may also spend more time at night before bed doing the same.

My current knowledge of the Spanish language

I know a few words in Spanish, partly because I went through Duolingo for about 2 weeks roughly a year ago. It was fun at first, but I eventually got bored and stopped as I wasn’t committed.

As a way to measure my progress on this challenge, I thought one way would be to recite every word I know in Spanish at the start and end of the challenge. So here it goes, below is every word I know in Spanish. There may be mistakes as I’m very hazy on what I remember, but that’s where the fun is – BEAR WITH ME!

Start of challenge Spanish test

English – Spanish:
Hello – Hola
Thank you – Gracias
Yes – Si
No – No
Mother – Muher
Father – Papa
Chicken – Pollo
Mouse – Mouse
Horse – Caballo
They – Ella
The – El (male) and/or La (female)
Him/Boy – Nino
Her/Girl – Nina
Good – Bueno
Good Night – Beunos Noches
Write – Scribe
Letter (written) – Carte
Library – Biblioteca
Water – Agua
April – Avril
One – Uno
Two – Duo
Three – Tres
Four – Quatro
Five – Cinques
Six – Ces
Seven – Siette
Eight – Otto
Nine – Nuevo
Ten – Dues

Now, looking those words up to see what I got correct, I have a feeling that some of the numbers were possibly Italian… but let’s have a look. Strikethrough = incorrect.

English – Spanish:
Hello – Hola
Thank you – Gracias
Yes – Si
No – No
Mother – Muher = Madre
Father – Papa = Padre
Chicken – Pollo
Mouse – Mouse = Raton
Horse – Caballo
They – Ella = Ellos (masculine) and Ellas (feminine)
The – El (m) and/or La (f)
Him/Boy – Nino
Her/Girl – Nina
Good – Bueno (m) and Buena (f)
Good Night – Buenos = Buenas Noches
Write – Scribe = Escribir
Letter (written) – Carte = La carta
Library – Biblioteca
Water – Agua
April – Avril = Abril
One – Uno
Two – Duo = Dos
Three – Tres
Four – Quatro = Cuatro
Five – Cinques = Cinco
Six – Ces = Seis
Seven – Siette = Siete
Eight – Otto = Ocho
Nine – Nuevo = Nueve
Ten – Dues = Diez

Yep, as I thought, a few right but lots of mistakes. Ended up with 12 known words starting this challenge. Not bad for a starting point.

From experience being in other countries and trying to speak some of their language, if you don’t say the word exactly how it’s pronounced, they have no idea what you are trying to say. Which is sort of strange. There was a time my partner and I were in France, and we wanted to go to Amiens, which is quite a large city in France (~150,000 people). We as Westerners were pronouncing it as it is spelled. Turns out that was completely wrong and is pronounced like this. So we were telling this person where we wanted to go – We would like to go to Amiens/How do we get to Amiens/Can we get a bus to Amiens etc. After we completely confused the person, we showed them the word and they were like “Ohhhhh riiight… Amiens”. So yeah, from that experience, I thought I’d only include words that I spelled correctly.

I’m excited to start this challenge! I’ll be exploring methods to learn Spanish and I know there will be a variety. Considering this is Day 1 and I’ve completed the above test, I feel as though that has already helped.

15 Days In…

For this challenge, I’ve been using the Coffee Break Spanish podcast and other methods including language learning apps like Duolingo/Babbel/Busuu, post-it notes on common items around the office space and at home, and by watching videos/songs about days of the month, colours, numbers etc.

The Coffee Break Spanish podcast is really good! The format is easy to follow and the episodes are roughly 15-20min in length. I was following along each day but after day 4 of this, I needed to stop and re-listen to episode 4 as it was a bit of information overload due to the amount of new words I’ve been learning.

The language learning apps have also been quite enjoyable. Duolingo has been my favourite from them due to a lot of the material being free. However, whenever I use Duolingo or something similar, I don’t feel as though it teaches me some of the more basic lessons/rules of the language enough. I’ll see how the rest of it goes and whether that changes over time.

It has helped to write out some of the lessons into a book, as well as start from fresh on language learning apps. It really helps to solidify the concept. If I primarily listen to the podcast, I don’t really get into the habit of knowing how the word is properly spelled and therefore how to properly write it down if I’m trying to remember it.

Using some of the common phrases like ‘good morning – buenos dias’, ‘how are you? – como estas?’, ‘see you later – hasta luego’, has helped to remember them and focus on learning and remembering other phrases.

I’ve found it pretty difficult to comprehend what someone is saying in Spanish as the words are strung together and said quickly. I’ve been able to pick out a few words, but I’ll need a lot more practice before being able to fully understand each word when someone is speaking.

Nearing the end of the 30 days, I’ve definitely picked up a few words that I can easily recall if needed, this includes things like bank (banco), car (carro), house (casa), supermarket (supermercado), table (mesa), etc. This is helpful for situations when I’m travelling and I need to ask ‘Where is the bank? – ‘Donde esta el banco’. And if I know that general sentence structure, I can start with ‘Donde esta el/la… ‘, and replace bank with anything else, such as train (tren), bus (autobus), bathroom (bano).

End of the 30-day challenge to learn Spanish

I have now completed the 30-day challenge. Below, I have retaken the test to see how many words I’ve learned and remembered. This also includes phrases learned:

English – Spanish | strikethrough where incorrect

Hello – Hola
Good bye – Adios
See you – Hasta la vista = Hasta luego
See you later – Hasta luego
See you soon – Hasta pronto
See you tomorrow – Hasta manana
Good morning – Buenos dias
Good afternoon – Buenas tardes
Good night – Buenas noches
How are you? – Como estas?
Well – bien
Very well – Muy bien
Tired – Camida = Cansado
Stupendous – Estupendo
Phenomenal – fenomenal
Bad – Fatal = Malo
Good – beuno
You’re welcome – De nada
Excuse me – Disculpe
Please – Por favor
Thank you – Gracias
I am sorry – Lo siento
Pardon – Perdon
A/An – Un/Una (depending on following word)
And – Y
Or – O
Yes – Si
No – No
My – Mi
You – Tu
Are you – Eres = ser/estar, but Eres is Spanish for ‘You are’
Is – Es
In – En
Sir – Senor
Madam – Senorita Senora
Boy – Nino
Girl – Nina
Name – Nombre
My name is … – Mi llamo… = Me llamo
What is your name? – Como te llama? = llamas
Nice to meet you – Mucho gusto
Pleased to meet you – Encantado/a
I live in – Vivo en
I – Yo
I am – Soy
Here – Aqui
But – Pero
Now – Ahora
For – Para
From – De
Where – Donde
Where are you from? – De donde eres?
I am from… – Soy de…
Australia – Australia
Australian – Australiano/a
United States – Estados Unidos
American – Americano/a
Cuba – Cuba
Cuban – Cubano/a
Mexico – Mexico
Mexican – Mexicano/a
Scotland – Escocia
Spain – Espana
I am not from Spain – No soy de Espana
I speak… – Yo hablo…
Do you speak… – Tu hablas…
Spanish – Espanol
English – Ingles
He – El
She – Ella
We – Nosotros
Need – Necesito
Want – Quiero = Quiere
Do you want – Quieres
Where is the… – Donde esta el/la…
Bank – Banco
Bathroom – Bano
Telephone – telefono
Train – Tren
Bus – Autobus
Airport – Aeropuerto
Station – Stacion = estacion
Car – Carro
Taxi – Taxi
House – Casa
Pretty – Bonito
Elegant – Elegante
Interesting – Interesante
Grandmother – Abuela
Grandfather – Abuelo
Mother – Madre
Father – Padre
Mum – Mama
Brother – Hermano
Little brother – Hermanito
Sister – Hermana
Little sister – Hermanita
Son – Hijo
Daughter – Hija
Man – Hombre
Woman – Mujer
Husband – Esposo
Wife – Esposa
Family – Familia
Photo – foto
People – Personas
Work – Travajo = Trabajo
What do you work? (how to ask what someone’s job is) – En que tu travajo? = En que trabajo?
I am a/an… Engineer – Soy… Injeniero/a = Ingeniero/a
Teacher – Profesor/Maestro
Student – Estudiante
Plumber – Fontanero
Lawyer – Abogado
I work in a/an… – Yo travajo en un/una… = Trabajo en un/una…
Office – Oficina
Shop – Tiende = Tienda
Factory – Fabrica
Restaurant – Restaurante
Hospital – Hospital
Table – Mesa
Reservation – Reserva
Have – Tengo
One – Uno
Two – Dos
Three – Tres
Four – Cuatro
Five – Cinco
Six – Seis
Seven – Siete
Eight – Ocho
Nine – Nueve
Ten – Diez
Eleven – Once
Twelve – Doce
Thirteen – Trece
Fourteen – Catorce
Fifteen – Quince
Sixteen – Dieciseis
Seventeen – Diecisiete
Eighteen – Dieciocho
Nineteen – Diecinuevo = Diecinueve
Twenty – Viente = Veinte
Second – Segundo
Minute – Minuto
Hour – Hora
Day – Dias = Dia
Hundred – Centuro = Cien
January – Enero
February – Febrero
March – Marzo
April – Avril = Abril
May – Mayo
June – Junio
July – Julio
August – Augusto = Agosto
September – Sieptiembre = Septiembre
October – Octubre
November – Noviembre
December – Diciembre
White – Blanco
Black – Negro
Red – Rojo
Blue – Azul
Green – Verde
Orange – Naranja
Violet – Violeta
Indigo – Indigo
Brown – Marron
Sandwich – Sandwich
Burger – Hamberguesa = Hamburguesa
Salada – Ensalada
Tomato – Tomate
Fish – Pescado
A Fish sandwich – Un sandwich de pescado
Meat – Carne
With – Con
Without – Sin
Vegetarian – Vegetariano/a
Vegan – Vegano/a
Cheese – Queso
Sugar – Azucar
Salt – Sal
Milk – Leche
Water – Agua
Coffee – Cafe
Juice – Jugo
Orange juice – Jugo de naranja
Apple – Manzana
Glass – Vaso
Cup – Taza
Bread – Pan
Animal – Animale = Animal
I drink – Yo bebo
You drink – Tu bebes
He drinks – el bebe
I eat – Yo como
You eat – Tu comes
He eats – el come
Monitor (computer) – Monitor
Screen – Pantalla
Pen – Boligrafo
Coaster – Cosovasos = Posavasos
Hand sanitiser – El gel antibacterial
Drawer – Cajon
Chair – Silla
Plant – Planta
Notebook – Libreta
Book – Libro
Letter – Carte = Carta
Write – Scribo = Escribir
Library – Biblioteca
Exam – Examen
Difficult – Dificil
University – Universidad
Turtle – Tortuga
Dog – Perro
Cat – Gato
Mouse – Raton
Horse – Caballo
Chicken – Pollo
Street – Calle
Closed – Cerrado
Museum – Museo
Clothes – Ropa
Suitcase – Maleta
Ticket – Boleta
Shirt – Camisa
Jacket – Chaqueta
Money – Dinero
Hat – Sombrero
Big – Grande
Passport – Pasaporte
Surprise – Supresa = Sorpresa
Love – Amor
Medicine – Medicina
Keyboard – Taclado = Teclado

There we have it, 30 days of learning Spanish later and I managed to correctly remember and be able to use 211 words! That’s 17.5x more words than when I started!

It is also quite easy to string together a number of these words into phrases. But it can change slightly depending on the structure of the sentence in Spanish.

Most notably, in English, you would say “a clothes store”. In Spanish, you would instead say “una tienda de ropa”, reading like ‘a store of clothes’. I didn’t spend enough time on sentence structure, but I think it was okay given the words and phrases I learned. This aspect of the language was quite confusing, mainly when to use this or not.

What worked well / What I would do again if planning to travel soon

This time around, I really felt that Duolingo helped. I used Duolingo almost every day, probably for about 10-15 minutes at a minimum during my lunch break at work. It was really helpful for remembering words in Spanish like dog, cat, house, car, taxi, bus, bank, bathroom, etc. I know there were other words I just couldn’t remember but if I spent a little more time on it would be able to add quite a lot more.

I used post-it notes around the office for things like chair, mouse, pens, notebook, screen, plant, and monitor. That helped with recall and to learn words specific to my workspace.

Every morning at work, I would say Beunos Dias (good morning) to everyone, as well as a few other phrases. I think this really helped to solidify these words/greetings into my vocabulary.

I found Coffee Break Spanish on Spotify very helpful for pronounciation and learning new words. But I only listed to roughly 7 episodes with a few repeats over the 30 days (20min per episode). While they were good, I missed out on a few words like My name is (Me llamo, pronounced meh) because in the recordings it sounded like Mi, pronounced mee. But it helped to look up words after an episode and write them down.

Of course, the simple method of writing down words and phrases helped when I did it.

What didn’t work well / What I would do more of or differently

What I didn’t do as frequently as I should have was writing words/phrases down in a book with a pen/pencil. It’s been shown that the act of writing improves memory and recall. This would be my usual way of learning something new and trying to remember it, but for the 30 days, I never really got into the habit.

I would have listened to more of Coffee Break Spanish. They go over a lot of rules and pronounciations of the Spanish language. I didn’t feel as though I was lacking in the pronounciation aspect, but just by listening to more episodes I would have learned more.

I didn’t attend a spanish class or language class at all during this challenge. I did post on the work notice board but I never got any responses. I would definitely like to try this out, and perhaps attend a 4-6 week course that meets once or twice a week to discuss the language.

I didn’t really study the use of accents on letters. I know that they aren’t crucial, but they are an important part of the language. Next time I would really like to delve deeper into learning how to use these properly.

Similarly, although I know a few examples, the aspect of formal/informal words in Spanish is something I didn’t delve far into either. While I could travel to a Spanish speaking country and probably get around just using formal words, it would be ideal to learn the informal versions too.

And really, what I would do more of is just study and practice much more. I probably spent about 20-30min per day with learning Spanish. I would definitely increase this to learn more. But, as it is a challenge, it sure was challenging to work on this every day. I was really interested for the first few days, but it really quickly became a chore and something I didn’t really want to do. Some days I would be doing a bit of Duolingo about 5 minutes before going to bed because I hadn’t studied at any point throughout the day. Also with this, I would definitely increase revision times after lessons/podcast lessons to solidify words and concepts.

2 thoughts on “Learning Spanish for 30 Days

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