At the start of summer, I had this vague idea of upping my levels for Spanish and Italian. I have been knocking on the B2 door for a while now (it’s ajar already) and I thought this would be a good occasion to finally push it wide open. I knew I was going to book a package of 5 lessons with my italki tutor, but apart from that, I didn’t really have any vast plans.

A little more than a week ago, I came across a language challenge on Twitter that was more or less the same as what I was going to do this week, so I thought, why not try that: study your target language for 40 hours in 7 days (credits to @languagecomeup and @seaboltspeaks). 40 hours/7 days of total Spanish immersion! What a treat! And … I had no work planned this week (but I know from experience that can change in an instant).

I had initially planned to just immerse myself in Spanish as much as I could for a whole week, without a specific number of hours to reach, but then again, well, why not! Unfortunately I didn’t reach 40 hours, but DID manage to get 36,5 hours done, which is quite amazing if you consider I have worked full time this week (yes, my empty agenda filled up quite quickly – which was frustrating at times, I was watching the time ticking by and could only think of all the Spanish I would have to do that night). This gives an average of around 5 hours per day. I also didn’t plan on doing anything in particular, just have a look at all the material I have lying around and then pick something, anything.

Did I like it? YESSS! I loved it! And I really notice the difference after this week. I have picked up so much Spanish, especially colloquial Spanish (I love Maria Español’s videos by the way). I am even dreaming in Spanish! I loved it so much that I plan on doing the same with Italian in August.

I started with booking a 5 lesson package (45 min each) with my italki tutor, Susi Riquelme. She is the best, really. We decided on the subjunctive (subjuntivo) as our main topic for this week. Susi is a very good teacher. She had prepared 3 lessons for me, one verb tense per lesson (I already knew the present subjunctive). I got in depth explanations and targeted exercises. Intensive grammar course, anyone? Ouch, my poor brain …

Of course we also just talked during class, so I got plenty of speaking practice as well. The last 2 lessons were aimed at reviewing everything and we finished off with a mixed exercise with all tenses of the subjunctive combined with the present (indicative). After each lesson she sent me the document and everything she had prepared for me. Extra exercises where expected to be made by the next lesson. I’m repeating myself, but Susi is such a good teacher, that I plan on booking more of these lessons with her (I have more issues to clarify, such as por/para, ser/estar, the conditional, the indirect speech, prepositions – my weak spot in all of my languages).

One of my overall summer goals for Spanish is also to read a book. I have ordered the complete series of Valeria and I am now halfway through book 1 (En los zapatos de Valeria). What I love so much about this, is that it is written in very colloquial speech, exactly what I am now focussing on. My ‘general Spanish’ is more or less at a good level (a lower B2) and I now want to expand a bit beyond the textbook language. I am sort of in the middle of extensive and intensive reading. This means that I read larger chunks and only stop at words I don’t really know, but need in order to understand the story (which is, in this case, not very much, since the story is rather ‘light’). What I do do, is make a list of words I want to remember (that I understand in context, but want to start using actively as well). I then e-mail that list to myself, copy it into word and add the translation. I keep the printout in my textbook.

I studied from a textbook as well, actually from two: gramática de uso B1-2 and Aula Internacional 4 B2.1 (which I want to have finished by the end of summer – that was a goal for June, but I totally missed that). This was just your regular studying (rather boring so I won’t dwell on that). I also did an online level test (for what it’s worth) and reached a B2.

So much for active studying.

My passive studying mainly consisted of binge watching Las chicas del cable (Netflix) and an overdose of María Español (YouTube). While listening to both, I focussed on the use of the subjuntivo (which is quite exhausting, knowing that I usually did this late at night). When I watched Maria’s videos on colloquial Spanish I took screenshots of all the examples and the plan is to write them all down and study a few of them each day. I also try to use them actively (such as in an occasional tweet in Spanish or in my italki class, which made my tutor burst into laughter each time and give me some examples of her own – have I told you she is the best?).

So … Any last thoughts? I loved this challenge. I learned a lot, but it was also very intense, especially in combination with a fulltime job and 3 teenage boys. Especially on Thursday, I was really tired. But overall this was a big success and I might repeat it sometime later this year as my goal is to reach a solid B2.

Below is a breakdown of the hours I spent on each skill. If any of you are planning to do the same thing, please let me know!

4 hours grammar revision + study gramática de uso B1-2

Level test grammar Spanish: B2

1 hour listening: Maria Español YouTube

1 hour 15 min reading En los zapatos de Valeria (Elisabet Benavent)

2 hours gramática de uso B1-2

45 min italki speaking

2 hours listening Netflix: Las chicas del cable

 45 min italki speaking

15 min checking voc from books

2 hour 20 min listening Netflix: Las chicas del cable

1 hour study gramática de uso B1-2

30 min grammar exercises subjuntivo-indicativo online

1 hour reading En los zapatos de Valeria (Elisabet Benavent)

45 min italki speaking

45 min listening: Maria Español YouTube

30 min reading En los zapatos de Valeria (Elisabet Benavent)

40 min listening Netflix: Las chicas del cable

3 hour 15 min grammar Aula Internacional 4 B2.1

55 minutes italki speaking

30 min reading En los zapatos de Valeria (Elisabet Benavent)

1 hour 45 min listening: Maria Español YouTube

1 hour listening Netflix: Las chicas del cable

1 hour italki speaking

1 hour 40 min reading En los zapatos de Valeria (Elisabet Benavent)

30 min gramática de uso C1-2

35 min listening Netflix: Las chicas del cable

1 hour 15 min listening Netflix: Las chicas del cable

2 hour study gramática de uso B1-2

40 min listening: Maria Español YouTube

1 hour grammar Aula Internacional 4 B2.1

50 min reading En los zapatos de Valeria (Elisabet Benavent)

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