Typical Day Learning Foreign Language: Spanish

Ann Marshall

Note: This learning foreign language page is part of a series of blogs that we did while learning Spanish language in Peru. This page tells about our accelerated language learning. These pages are designed to show you how to implement Walkabout language learning strategies. Use our examples here for any language you want to learn. See the "More Peru Stories" list of links on this page for additional ideas about accelerated language learning. Also see our Learn Spanish section.

Writing about learning foreign language has been overtaken by the intensity of our accelerated language learning routine. But we’ve finally settled into a doable schedule.

Grabbing the Tiger by the Whiskers

We spend 3 to 4 hours a day in formal classes. Terry and I squeeze in an additional hour each in informal lessons with our tandem language learning students Maria Rosa and Juan. Conversing with the family over meals yields an additional 3 to 3.5 hours a day of intense Spanish. And with up to 4 hours of (sometimes self-imposed) homework, we have a full day.

All of our classes are in the morning . . . sort of. The last session ends by 2 or 2:30. We've switched all our classes to private or semi-private, which increases the immersion – and the pressure. We can neither run nor hide. Nor hope our teachers will call on someone else.

Private Classes: The Shift toward Conversational Spanish

For less than an additional $150 USD, we switched to private Spanish lessons so we could customize our learning foreign language efforts and to meet our needs for practical oral Spanish, with less emphasis on grammar. Last night, I worked on ideas for how we might shift the emphasis, then did a short presentation to all three of our teachers this morning.

Maximo Nivel is very flexible with the private students, and we saw an immediate and dramatic change the same day. But it is exhausting. Including the 4.5 hours I spent on the presentation and on homework last night, I put in a 13-hour day yesterday, then woke up at 3:30, my mind buzzing with additional ideas. Never went back to sleep.

Our Schedule: Glub! Glub! Drinking from a Firehose

So how does a more or less typical day look? Take a peek:





7 am

Breakfast; go to tandem language learning

Breakfast with Ann or ... with Shawn; go to class

8 am

Tandem language learning with Juan

Breakfast; go to class

9 am

Private class with Luz

Private class with Jackie

Private classes with Mabel

10 am

Terry & Ann: shared class with Jackie

11 am

Terry & Ann: shared class with Luz

12 pm

Time on Internet

1 pm

Time on Internet

Tandem language learning with Maria Rosa

2 pm

Various errands; then go home for lunch and siesta (ok, I admit: the siesta is nothing new; we’ve been doing it for at least 30 years ...)

3 pm

4 pm

Studying and essential tasks: trips to doctor; shopping for medicine (goes with trips to doctor), bottled water, and necessities for cameras and excursions

5 pm

6 pm



8 – 10 pm

Linger over dinner with our host family in deep discussions about politics or other topics of the day, or study, or blog, or jump on Internet ... or some combination

The Debate: Is This the Best Schedule for Us?

In a word, our learning foreign language schedule is grueling. We're debating how to cut back to maintain our sanity and still maintain an accelerated language learning program. The tandem language learning adds a lot of variety and expands our thinking because, like us, they are students, and they bring that important perspective from a younger vantage.

The time spent at meals, particularly the evening meal when we are not as rushed, is incredibly intense but also interesting and entertaining. Last night, for example, we got into a long discussion about agrarian reform, economic development, and politics. I missed a lot of the nuance, but wouldn’t have missed the discussion for the world, nor the ongoing jokes and ribbing. It adds an interesting angle to our accelerated language learning.

But we know we have to make more time for the blog and for our thinking about learning foreign language, both of which have suffered. Get up earlier? Go to bed later? Cut someplace else? That's the question we'll deal with over the weekend.

Yikes, after the weekend, we'll have just eight more days of classes left.

We've used the formal classes to improve our Spanish, at the same time we've incorporated Walkabout Language Learning to extend our learning beyond the classroom. You too can enhance a formal language program with the Walkabout Language Learning Action Guide. Click here to download it today.

Learning Foreign Language Lessons

  • Don't bite off more than you can chew.
  • Time flies; schedule your accelerated language learning accordingly.

--Posted by Ann, October 18

Out-takes: And the jokes with the family are priceless. We share ongoing ribbing about portion size and canned fruit in this region of immense variety of fresh tropical fruit. We prefer small portions; Sonia's servings are overwhelmingly generous. So occasionally she will put just a bean or two on my plate. And Terry and Shawn bought Sonia her very own fresh pineapple yesterday, in case she hadn't seen one.

Previous: Learn Spanish Grammar             Next: Tandem - Real life practice

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