I’m dusting off my old (really old!) WordPress blog to announce my new project One Month Spanish. One Month Spanish is an intensive, month-long, Spanish self-study course that contains 30 discrete lessons highlighting the most critical topics for Spanish beginners. The course is audio-intensive, with a heavy focus on improving verbal proficiency. It it ideal for folks who have had some prior introduction to Spanish (e.g. Duolingo, Rosetta Stone) and are looking to achieve functional speaking ability as quickly as possible. We designed the site entirely in responsive HTML5 to work on mobile devices so you can practice the material while on the subway, walking to work, etc.
I started One Month Spanish in response to a problem I struggled with after arriving in Santiago, Chile in August 2013 to participate in Startup Chile for my last startup. Although I had taken some Spanish in high school and college, I quickly found out that all of the Spanish that I had learned out of textbooks was pretty useless when it came to engaging in actual spoken conversation with native Spanish speakers. I already knew most of the basic grammar rules and decent amount of vocabulary, but what I really lacked was the ability to put everything together at once in active conversation.
I tried using Duolingo (good for learning basic vocab, but useless for practicing real-time speech). I borrowed a set of Pimsleur tapes (good, but expensive and fairly limited). I spent over $400 for 10 hours with a private tutor. Through trial and error, I figured out what I really needed: a way to practice Spanish conversation everyday, while following some sort of structured lesson plan. Specifically, I needed a course that was:
- Conversation focused – learning materials that were focused on real-time conversation, not just another list of grammar rules and vocabulary
- Audio-based – focused on improving verbal listening and pronunciation, not just the ability to read out of a book
- Structured – listening to native Spanish podcasts was definitely helpful, but not as instructive as materials designed for teaching purposes
- Realistic – utilizes native Spanish speakers, conversing about realistic topics using near-native speed and pronunciation
In other words, what I need was a set of “training wheels” for Spanish conversation that I could use on my own to progressively build my ability to engage in real-time conversation.
One Month Spanish takes learners through a series of daily dialogues between native Spanish speakers in a variety of typical scenarios (going shopping, going to dinner, looking for an apartment, etc.). Following each dialogue are a series of audio drills designed to reinforce your ability to recognize and reproduce specific language patterns introduced in the dialogue. In my opinion, this combination of dialogue and reinforcing drills is the most-efficient way to go from beginner level learner to semi-proficient Speaker.