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Had my first conversation without an English safety net

I've been learning Spanish for three or four years. I reached level 23, reset, got to 15, reset again. I've done a 5000 Spanish word course on Memrise and three of their official courses full of phrases. I read short stories in Spanish, newspaper articles, and Spanish news sites. But I've always avoided conversation, waiting for that day when I had enough words and phrases.

My new years resolution was to have at least one real Spanish conversation a week, more than polite small talk. I used Lingbe and Tandem and found exchange partners, all of which knew some English and could help the conversation along.

Just two cities over from my own there's a Spanish speaking neighborhood where my sister lives and works. Many of the small restaurants have staff that speak little or no English. My dear sister took me to one of these to help push me into a worthwhile Spanish conversation. The waitress looked worried when she saw us, figuring we didn't speak enough Spanish. She asked if we need menus in English, I simply said, "no", which doesn't really count as answering in Spanish. I found out what my sister and children wanted, took a deep breath, and called the waitress back. I didn't use only complete sentences, I described the sodas like Tarzan (sodas, grape!), but I communicated using my Spanish in a situation where English wouldn't have worked.

Now I just have to repeat 100 or so more times and I'll reach my goal of B1 by the end of the summer.

April 29, 2018



Feels awesome doesn't it!? :)


This is my 75th or so conversation, but it feels better than I would have guessed ;)


Hallo Dan,

congratulations on your final break through!

Do you already use https://spanish.kwiziq.com?

Currently I am at my 1,5 years way point in learning Portuguese (BR).

No, I have not yet started those frightening 5000-7000+ words courses on Memrise or 10-15k AnkiSRS sentences "shared deck" :-)

But I know how it feels trying to do multiple things (DuoLingo, Memrise PT BR Basic, PT 1-7, Mondly,...) in parallel.


At the end of last year (around November/Dezember) I had my first text chats with Brazilians on http://www.hellolingo.com (HL) because when I completely my EN-PT tree I suddently felt I have to push myself a little bit and reward my "golden owl" (when DuoLingo does not reward it, don't we have to reward ourselves a little bit?).

Almost all of the PT BR native speakers had never chatted with a German before on HL :-)

What a great feeling to understand here and there some word/sentence pieces...I mean...before 1,5 years I knew absolutely nothing, not even in any Romance language.

But I would appreciate a computer assisted grammar text correction (when chatting) and HL does not provide this :-(

I also had plans to take some online speaking lessons in iTalki at "a given time" (isn't it so "easy" to push it back every week and not starting with talking to teachers?) ;)


End of the 2017 year I also had - together with Carlos - a 11 days Spanish challenge on Lingvist and I learned in 20 hours finally my first 1000 Spanish words (incl. full sentences).

What a great fun first "testing out" what "Portuguese words" might match the blanks and trying to fill them in or to learn how to differently write/pronounce the word differences between Portuguese and Spanish.

I miserable failed Lingvist's intro placement test to speak about the "similarities" about both languages :-)
I also failed two times the DuoLingo intro placement tests for Spanish or their web portal (listening, typing, etc.).

Wow, the differences in the basics between those two languages are really quite much!!

Right now I do not expect that I would recognize / recall many of those 1000 Spanish words, as I have not started Lingvist reviews in 2018 to push forward with Portuguese...

Would I like to join a restaurant at my current stage?
No, of course not.
This is at the moment very true for both languages! :-)

In the next 2-3 months my plan is to complete all of the "At the restaurant 1-4" topics incl. contained "conversation lessons" for my Mondly PT BR tree.


I have no fixed plan how and when I will go forward with Lingvist Spanish, DuoLingo Spanish (level 9 was just a fun test-out on the Android app; I will have to reset my DL tree and go lesson-by-lesson) or when I will finally start Spanish on Mondly or a DL laddering tree (the EN-SP tree might be much longer after the A/B rollout).

For my 2nd learning year I will try to stay focused with my PT Duo reverse trees (to focus writing), finishing Mondly, adding more Memrise course, joining my local "Language exchange table" and to meet any Portuguese speakers (or I have to switch to Spanish ;) ).

I still have to focus on "listening practice" to native material (podcasts, TV shows) for at least 6 months to push even further.

Q: Did that 3-5 years long-term Spanish learning help you very much with listening to the waiter at the restaurant?


However, I do accept that learning my 1st Romance language may take 3-5 years for the basics, and not "90 days to reach fluency in speaking" ;)

I somehow already had that feeling when I started with Portuguese in 10/2016: "Let's see how it goes and how difficult it will be".

I would love to benefit from the high 89% lexican similarities and to be able to also (easier) learn Spanish in the next (2) 3-5 years and to speed through a DuoLingo Portuguese-Spanish laddering tree ;)

I hope I will not push iTalki too much back in my 2nd year.

I would love so much to watch "BigBang series" in Portuguese BR...or Spanish a later time ;)

Wünsche Dir weiterhin viel Erfolg und Spaß!

Viele Grüße


Thank you for the food for thought, Thomas. I'm not sure why someone downvoted you, but I'll bump it up.

You're right, it's very easy to push speaking off to next week, then next week, and then before you realize, it's a year without really speaking.


I'm not sure why someone downvoted you

Probably too much text...to less paragraph/block formatting to easily read it :-)

Best comments are not more than 3-5 or 7 lines long :-)

Well, you know, it is not that easy to format longer text on the Duo discussions forums well.

However, I added some additional line separators and paragraphs.
If anyone has any other formatting ideas, how to improve the readability even more of my above text, I am of course open to all suggestions.


Sodas... Muchos mexicanos las llamamos refrescos. ¿Qué más pediste?


I actually said, "refrescos, uva"

We got semillas, quesadillas, and tacos.


By adding un and de you'd have said something perfect! un refresco de uva :)


It's funny when as the simple things we forget under pressure.


Good work, it sounds fun. I signed up recently. I'm starting with Spanish. It seems to be daunting at first, I can barely remember any of the words, but I guess that's expected for beginners.


¡Qué buen esfuerzo! Felicidades.


It sounds like you really wanted to feel confident before you had your first Spanish conversation.

I am fortunate that I have been "forced" a few times to have a conversation because at my workplace some people who come in only speak Spanish, and my immediate coworkers do not speak Spanish at all. I'm the best of a bad situation, I like to say.

While I get frustrated with my ability to form sentences at a reasonable speed, it is important to try and to be okay with making a lot of mistakes. I would encourage you to try whenever possible, even if you don't feel complete confidence. To me, this has been important to drop the idea that I need to be really, really proficient before trying. With that said, as I mentioned, it can also be a frustrating experience when you're at my level (which is not very strong in vocabulary). My speed of speech is horrendous, and I often mess up verbs when speaking aloud (for instance, I often think that 'tratar' means to try not to treat. I don't make this mistake when reading, only when speaking aloud.) I muddle through. It's also hard to comprehend people speaking at normal speed (native speakers). Usually I can get the gist of the sentence, but I know I'm missing a lot of nuance.

I have a little speech I give:

Lo siento, yo solo tengo unas pocas palabras en espanol, pero si su habla despacio, yo voy a intentar a ayudar.

This probably isn't even good Spanish, but it does set the scene!


congrats!!! I wish I could do what you can do, but I have slowly been losing interest in this, but you have motivated me to try and get better, thanks!!!!!


¡Sigue así! Nada se compara a la emoción de poner en práctica un idioma que has aprendido.




Thank you! I'm looking for a vocab course on Memrise next. I want to add 500 more good words. I figure that with the Duolingo Stories will solidify my B1, if not push me a bit towards B2.


Congrats! Still too nervous to try but will eventually get there!


Don't be nervous. It's ok to stumble or make mistakes. Try Lingbe or Tandem and have a three sentence conversation. Do that a few times and you'll see it's not that bad. Just build a little at a time :)


Good for you I still can't keep up with the Telemundo news.


Neither can I. I get 50-75%. That's why speaking to real people is better at this stage, they adapt to your needs.

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