#Clearthelist – Language Goals September 2017

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With August coming to a close it is time to take a step back, review how I have done and decide what I need to do in September to reach my goal…  to rule the world! I mean… learn lots of languages (of course).

For those who don’t already know, #Clearthelist is a language learning community that brings together fellow language learners by sharing their monthly goals; hosted by Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Lindsay of Lindsay Does Languages, Kris Broholm of Actual Fluency, and Angel Pretot of French Lover.

August Tracker - Complete

August Summary

Between work, family and languages, August has been a very busy month for me. That being said, I am really pleased with the amount of languages I have managed to squeeze in; seeing some significant progress with Spanish. In case you missed it last month (see my post here) I was learning Spanish from scratch using a 2 week free trial to Baselang to get started. I had a small amount of preparation with the Mimic Method elemental sounds course and a few Coffee Break Spanish podcasts, but I was basically an absolute beginner. A month on and I would estimate that I am almost at a lower intermediate level in my speaking and listening which is just phenomenal! My confidence has shot through the roof and I can’t quite believe it. My listening comprehension is also a lot stronger than my other languages which is clearly down to the focus I have been giving to learning the sounds prior to studying the language. I have also had many compliments on my accent so I must have done something right!

Let’s take a more detailed look at how I have done…

August Tracker - Speak

Baselang – Talk

18/31 – Amazing!

I started this goal using Baselang, a website that offers unlimited tutoring sessions for a monthly subscription. I was very pleased that I managed to squeeze 20 hours in two weeks… pretty unbelievable really! I have never had this much conversation exposure in a language I am learning and I can see how quickly I have progressed because of it. The tutor I found was great and after a week we were able to have a chat about lots of different things including how much we both love Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory. Not something I thought would be possible in such a short space of time. Until now I have never had a tutor but I think that having the structure during the conversation was a big help in making progress. I am planning on developing a structure to test with my language partners to see whether I can create this kind of progress with a native speaker without the need for them to be a teacher. Stay tuned for more info on this and a full review of Baselang.

I couldn’t afford a full month subscriptions, so once the trial was over I moved to Tandem. An iOS app that connects learners to teach each other the languages they speak. The app is pretty handy as it allows for you to have text and audio recorded conversations and give  amendments and comments. You can also voice and video call direct in the app, although I haven’t tested this yet. I have made a few friends there that I chat to and have been focusing on audio recordings to keep my focus on speaking, as I know my reading and writing will naturally progress quickly without the focus. The main difference I noticed here was that Baselang has a scheduling system so I could book the tutor for two hours after work and I knew that this was allocated for learning but on Tandem it isn’t this easy, which meant it was a lot easier for me to avoid trying to arrange a video call. Sometimes I find the structure helpful in encouraging me to get the time in…. maybe the money part helps too.

Overall I am really pleased I chose this as a goal as my speaking skills have always been weakest in new languages and now it is one of the strongest, which is a nice change!

August Tracker - Practice

Memrise – Practice

25/31 – Fantastico!

It may not be a perfect score, this last week it just wasn’t a possibility, but overall I found this goal really easy to maintain and super useful. I downloaded the Baselang memrise courses on my phone and practiced them outside the tutoring sessions which helped with memorisation. I have since found some frequency word lists which I am using to increase my vocabulary (which I have noticed is lacking at the moment). Memrise will continue to be in my pool of resources but I still think the focus on speaking and listening is key to breaking my bad habits from the past so will only be a supplement to my other resources.

August Tracker - Watch


FluentU – Watch

18/31 – Good try

Out of all my goals this was by far the weakest. The goal was very vague which inevitably left a lot of room for me to lose focus and prioritise the other goals that I was seeing much more progress from. The videos available on FluentU were really handy and actually helped me come up with some new techniques I have tried this month, so it isn’t all bad!

I won’t be continuing with this goal but if I choose “watching” as a goal again I will be making it a lot more specific around something I want to achieve from watching the videos.

August Tracker - Record

Word of the Day – Record

31/31 – Perfection!

The real star this month has been the recordings I have done. I tried to do this in the past but due to difficulty of recording, and my confidence, it never seemed to happen. That has all changed this month! I have actually recorded a video everyday and learn lots of new information. Success!

Due to the speed of my learning from tutoring, a word a day didn’t feel like enough of a challenge so I just tried to say at least a sentence about what I was doing that day. This was good to practice what I knew but I quickly noticed I was repeating the same sentences. For some reason on Fridays I always recorded a video saying I couldn’t wait for the weekend… who would have guessed it?

After watching the Ayuda en casa video (a video on FluentU about daily routines) I started recording videos around activities in my daily life. Then I would be able to use these phrases when I am talking about myself and my hobbies, which is always key at those early stages of language learning. I soon realised that not only was I learning new phrases for Spanish but found I also needed to learn some of this vocabulary in the other languages I had learnt so think this will have a universal benefit on all my languages in the future.

As I was recording myself speaking, and having to repeat multiple times to get it just right, I have found that I am remembering all the information so much more clearly and easily than before. I am also improving how naturally I speak which is amazing… two birds with one stone!

At the end of the month I pushed myself to the limits and recorded a vlog about my Bank Holiday Saturday. Short video clips or photos with recordings in Spanish describing the activities. Some are at the time of filming and others done after the event if I needed to learn the new vocabulary. It was really fun and I learnt loads. Now I can simply watch it back to review the information. Magic!

September Tracker - Start

September Goals

After the success in August I am going to continue on the same track and focus entirely on Spanish. That means I can make sure I am using all my time effectively to develop further rather than splitting my attention, which I have found doesn’t work well for me.

I plan on paying for another month of Baselang in October, after a short holiday, and so I want to learn as much new information as I can to make the most out of the conversations with the tutor. From the speed of learning in two weeks I am fairly confident that I will be able to reach a higher level in Spanish (in speaking) than I currently am at in Italian; which I have been learning for 5 years. Once I reach a comfortable level with Spanish I plan on following a similar method to break through the Intermediate plateau and finally reach an advanced level in Italian.

Having a target like this is helping to make sure my goals are very specific this time around.

September Tracker - Close Up

Bullet Tracker

As my bullet tracker has been such a huge part of my language learning success I thought it would be nice to explain how I have chosen the design for each month. This time I have gone for something a little different and combined some calligraphy with a geometric pattern to break the word September into 120 sections that I can shade with my new mini stabilo pens to create a gradient effect… provided I complete my goals of course. Just like with my language resources, I like to mix things up and my tracker is no different. More colour, more variety… more fun!

I am currently working on a series of posts on how I design and use my bullet trackers to achieve my goals which will be coming out this month, so keep your eyes peeled.

Now let’s talk about my goals….


After the success of my goal from last month I will be ramping up the difficulty… level up! This time I am going to be using IGLC (Instagram Language Challenge) from Lindsay Does Languages as a prompt and create video flashcards to learn new words and phrases. Hopefully adding a word, along with an associated sentence, and linking it to a video I have taken (with a personal connection to me) will help me memorise all the information better. I am going to us Linguee to find example sentences for each word from the dictionaries and online sources so I know they are accurate to the context of the word. Learning words in isolation is not nearly as effective as learning them in phrases as you don’t always know when people use them in actual conversation. Many words have different uses and patterns so learning them in sentences can help you learn this part of the language too.


So that I continue to learn new phrases and practice my listening skills (actively) I am going to continue with the Coffee Break Spanish course I started in July. The phrases are always really useful for travel and simple conversations and give a good understand of the structure of the language without going into painful detail about grammar. I love a bit of grammar drilling, but at this stage I just want to learn new information and learn the grammar from context. I am also planning to be healthier next month and start running again so this will work perfectly with my listening goal. A short 15 minute run in the morning will mean that I always achieve this goal… usually before I would even be awake on a normal day. Win!


Using what I learnt from the Mimic Method course I am going to continue to teach myself Spanish songs so I can replicate the words and hear them in full speed speech. My aim for this is about recognition and reproduction, not meaning. Once I can sing along with the whole song and can recognise all the words I will learn the what the lyrics mean. If you are lucky (or unlucky considering my singing talents) I may record a video once I have completed a whole song to show how it has worked.

My current favourite song, in case you were interested, is “Yo Contigo, Tú Conmigo” by Morat & Alvaro Soler. I have spent a lot of time looking for a Spanish rock band and Morat has fit that bill perfectly. The singing is clear and the genre is right up my street.


As my aim for Spanish is to reach conversational fluency I need to continue with the focus on speaking so that I continue to improve and increase my speed and confidence in conversation. I have already made some language friends on Tandem and need to plan with them to have video/voice conversations. As a way of making it achievable each day I will be using the audio recording function to get corrections on my speech and pronunciation. My reading and writing skills always progress significantly faster so at this early stage I want to avoid heavy focus on these areas so the gap doesn’t become too large.


Let me know your language goals in the comments below and if you have any suggestions for me. Let’s help each other have another success language learning month!

Ciao for now!

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