On How I Have (and Have Not) Studied for Spanish this Summer

As my senior year was winding down, I knew one thing for sure: my summer was going to be fun and it was going to be productive. But in all honesty, it was perhaps a little underwhelming in both of those departments.

Don’t get me wrong – I had fun! (You can read all about the best shenanigans and my favorite memories here!) I truly enjoyed myself all summer long, even if I didn’t have all the adventures I had envisioned in May while I forced myself to cram for AP exams and finals. Actually, I had my fair share of unexpected adventures as well – spontaneous plans with friends, random concert tickets falling in one’s lap, and spur-of-the-moment weekend trips will do that to a person!

And I was pretty productive, too. However, I didn’t live up to my own high expectations from the beginning of summer. I was excited to prepare myself for freshman year of college and to strengthen my Spanish skills, seeing as I will be starting in an advanced level course and am majoring in the subject! Anyway, I had extremely high expectations – as in, studying every day and teaching myself lots and all that jazz.

I didn’t reach those expectations. But I didn’t totally fail.

You see, through four years of taking high school Spanish (AKA three summers) I never once studied over breaks, despite the recommendations and reminders to do so and even my own guilt about never breaking out the books to brush up on the language.

And this summer had higher stakes, at least in my mind. I’m nervous about being in such an advanced level course. I’m sure it will be difficult and challenging in many ways on its own, but I’m also worried that I don’t belong in such a high level yet or that my pool of Spanish knowledge will be so different from all the other students’ pools of knowledge or the expected pool of knowledge (I know career vocabulary, not hobby vocabulary – woe is me!) that I won’t be able to handle it.

So at the very least, I wanted to brush up on my skills and understanding of my pool of knowledge so that I will be ready to take on more information as necessary when class starts, rather than trying to settle back into Spanish and review what I know during the first couple of weeks, like I successfully did in high school each year. I wanted to prepare myself.

Needless to say, I’m a little disappointed with myself for not following through with my expectations better. I wish I were more comfortable with my Spanish – but then again, I always wish that because I’m not fluent and I have a long way to go yet.

However, I can’t say I failed or truly let myself down, even if I do feel disappointment. I did better than I have during past summer. Here’s the progress I did make:

  • I compiled all of my Spanish notes and important work from the last four years into a nifty binder – it is complete with my home-made visual study tools, Spanish I-IV notes, a sparse-but-still-there section for new and self-taught notes, various reading materials, and my own writing that I am particularly proud of.
  • I reviewed over two years of vocab and grammar notes.
  • I’ve spent a decent sum of time reading Spanish labels and directions of household products for practice, or simply thinking about how to translate random phrases in my head (“Tengo hambre, pero no tenemos mucha comida en la casa. Puedo ir a la tienda luego.”) I also like to narrate my own life in Spanish from time to time, eavesdrop on Spanish-speakers’ conversations in public, and try to avoid all English subtitles on TV or in movies. These things are only occasionally successful, but I’m proud of my constant efforts.
  • This is lame, but I think it’s worth mentioning: I’ve had a couple of dreams that have incorporated some Spanish and my dream-self at least attempted to translate. At least once, Dream-Katy tried to translate a language that was very much not Spanish and felt horror and shame at my failure – even though, you know, it wasn’t even a language so of course I didn’t understand. Silly Dream-Katy…
  • I’ve used the Duolingo app quite a bit this summer, as well. It’s very easy to use, fun, and helpful! I recommend it for anyone trying to brush up on vocabulary – it even offers quite a few other languages if you’re not interested in learning Spanish. (I apologize for the plug, I’m not even sponsored or anything – I’m sure I had you fooled into thinking that…though I wouldn’t be against it, if you catch my drift, marketers of Duolingo.)

So you could technically describe my summer as underwhelming, but just because it didn’t meet my expectations doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great summer. If you combine the times where I was suddenly swept off to hang out with my best friends, to go to an awesome concert, to explore Nashville, or to enjoy any other time I had with my friends and family with the the amount of times I felt productive, fulfilled, or successful…well, then I’d have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my “underwhelming summer”.

Thank you for tuning in! Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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