Startup Chile Week 9: On learning Spanish

I started Spanish lessons this week. I've signed up for ten private 90-minute classes. I've been doing decently on my own, but wanted a kickstart in speaking more. I like experimenting with different programs. Here's an overview of what's working for me.

Babbel: I started using Babbel the minute I found out I got into Startup Chile. It's great for vocabulary and customized learning as you can choose what vocabulary or grammar you want to practice. It also uses spaced repetition, a learning technique we will be implementing in My Elephant Brain.

Michel Thomas: When you first listen to Michel Thomas you think, what, who is this guy with the strange accent and how can I learn Spanish when he speaks so much English? But then, after just 30 minutes when you realize you can actually speak some Spanish, you become a convert. He's an excellent teacher with a fantastic method for teaching vocabulary and especially grammar. You end up learning without too much effort. There's also an iPhone app available.

Duolingo: It took me a couple of tries to get into Duolingo. Initially I found the translation bits difficult but the software is super slick which makes it pleasant to use. When you're studying a subject for an hour or more a day this makes a difference. It's geared more towards the translation activities of reading and writing so it's not the best for learning to speak. But it's a good complement to Michel Thomas's auditory program and Babbel for learning vocabulary and grammar.

Weekly Summary

Pete's taken on the role of Tribe Leader for the Tech Tribe. He started this week with a talk on Windows 8 development.

My boyfriend Andrew is visiting for two weeks so I had a flurry of vacation planning involving car rentals and flights. We're heading off to Valparaiso (or Valpo) on the coast for a couple of days as soon as he lands. Then we're flying to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for 4 days. And finally we're driving south for a week. It should be awesome!

High of the week: This week gets two. What can I say, it's been a good week!

1) The boy is here!

2) Since we didn't make the top 20%, Startup Chile staff offered to provide feedback to everyone else. We took them up on this offer and got some very positive feedback, which gave me confidence that we are on the right track.

Interesting thing: One of my friends I climb with is Barbora, from the Czech Republic and part of the Videoflot team. They had a housewarming party. There, we met the Slow Riders from Poland. You always meet interesting people while traveling but these guys might take the cake. They are driving a Trabant, a Fiat and a motorcycle across South America. Check out the photos on their Facebook page. Incredible.