Learning Spanish Monthly Report #1

01/02/2020

It’s been one month since I started learning Spanish. It’s fun and I’m excited to share my first experiences.

Latin American Spanish vs. Spanish in Spain

There are two varieties of Spanish. Which should I learn?

This is the first question that comes to mind. I also asked this question to Google and read language forums, Quora, Stackexchange, etc. TLDR; there is no difference at all and you can just start which you want. Moreover, you can toss a coin and select your path. This is what I learnt after my research. Because they are slightly different and they both can understand each other. Now let’s dive into some details and see the most important differences.

Vosotros

Vosotros means ‘you (plural)’ means in Spanish. But vosotros is not used in Latin America. They prefer ustedes instead of vosotros. Ustedes is also used in Spain but it’s the formal version of vosotros. This difference also means that if you learn Spain Spanish you have to learn one more verb ending.

Pronunciation

Undoubtedly, there should be some differences with accents but I cannot identify easily since I don’t understand Spanish. The biggest difference that one can immediately understand is c and z letter. Z is pronounced like th (θ) in Spain and s in Latin America. Also if there is c before i or e, it’s pronounced as th (θ) in Spain and s in Latin America.

Vocabulary

Some words are different in different countries/regions. For instance “car” is coche in Spain and carro in Latin America.

First Stage of Learning Spanish: Vocabulary

I think learning vocabulary is the most important thing in the early stages of learning a new language. Because when you know some words you have a chance to practice by the time you learn a new grammar subject or you can understand basic sentences without grammar knowledge. So I started with vocabulary. Actually, I don’t like flashcards that are prepared by someone and sold in some stores. Because I don’t know how those words are chosen. There is a chance to memorise a word as the 10th most important word and never see this word again for a few years. I also don’t like finding a list of words with their definitions and memorise them one by one. I believe making an effort beyond just reading them makes this process more successful. So I like looking up a dictionary and finding/writing a sample sentence and writing it. In this way, I interact with this word more than just reading them from a list. (However, it doesn’t mean that everybody should study this way. I will share my word list.) Finding the most important words that are widely used in the target language is difficult. This is where Wiktionary comes into play. Wiktionary has great lists of frequently used words in multiple languages here. You can see sources for lists on this page. I think words from subtitles are very useful. Generally, you see these words frequently.

I preferred 10000 Spanish words from subtitles list and started with the first 1k. I looked up every word in the dictionary and extracted 500 words that I will possibly see frequently. You can find all these words at the end of the post. I studied 30-45 mins every day and memorised all the words easily.

Anki

“Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy.” This simple definition is from Anki’s own website and it’s enough to describe this program. This program uses Active Recall Testing and Spaced Repetition concepts to make remember ‘things.’ Yes, I consciously use ‘things’ word because Anki is type content-agnostic which means it accepts images, audios, videos and scientific markup (via LaTeX), HTML, CSS, etc. It has Linux, Windows, Mac, Andriod, iPhone apps. You can create your own decks or download from shared decks. (I will share my own decks also.) For more information see Anki’s own website or r/Anki.

Dictionary

I researched on the internet about Spanish dictionaries and I decided to use Spanishdict. (not a surprise!) Because it has different pronunciations with videos, example sentences, thesaurus, phrases and mobile app. I also liked WordReference.

Conclusion

This was my all month. I looked up every word from Spanishdict and WordReference, I studied them every day for nearly 30 minutes, listen to some random podcasts or youtube videos without understanding anything. (To get used to hear words in Spanish or catch a few of them.)

Words 1-500

You can contact me for any issue:

Twitter: @kamer_ee

Mail: kamer@kamerelciyar.com