Spending $800 to achieve a lifelong goal: Learning Spanish

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In last weeks article I brought up the topic of investing in yourself in order to increase your happiness and self worth in life. One way I recently have approached this is by tackling a pretty hefty goal I have had for a long time which is learning Spanish. My Spanish learning journey is pretty sad in a lot of ways because I have tried again and again to learn the language and have failed each time. I started around the age of 18 when I took one college Spanish class and walked away learning some vocabulary words and not much else. This class was structured to learn Spanish from a textbook which simply put is not the way to do it. Over the 10 years since I have bought books, worked with tutors, downloaded phone apps, and even took some online skype classes which all ended again with…. Failure. 

A huge reason I continued to fail is because like many other things in life I would get super motivated for a week or two then quickly lose interest. Once the interest was lost and I did not find myself making any real progress, I just gave up on the idea and continued to tell myself that this was just an impossible goal that I would never be able to complete. 

Another reason I continued to fail is because almost all Spanish learning opportunities focus way too heavily on something I have no interest in….Grammar. I hate grammar and I hate even more that educated people all around the world feel the need to think grammar is imperative to learning a language. Take your typical highschool spanish class for example. You start the class, are issued a textbook full of grammatical exercises, and almost never come out being able to speak the language. I have probably heard from hundreds of people who say “I took Spanish in highschool and all I remember is, Hola, como estas.” So much time is wasted in these classes because the teachers and the educational institutions are taking the wrong approach. I was able to see this clearly in my college level Spanish class where I walked away after three months of classes with no ability to carry a simple conversation. 

On the flip side of this I have a nephew who is in second grade who is a part of a Spanish immersion program within his school. From the first day in Kindergarten to his current time in school, his classes have been conducted using only Spanish. My nephew who is now seven years old now has a high fluency level in Spanish for his age group and can converse with native speakers 10x better than I can. Shockingly he hasn’t taken one grammar class or had to worry about knowing how to conjugate verbs because it is all learned through speech. This is the type of learning that I have craved for so long but it is extremely hard to find as an adult without traveling abroad. 

One day while browsing YouTube I came across a video titled “Spanish in a month”. Heres a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RvhtpRnZWQ&t=712s.

This video follows a young man named Conor who is in his 20’s, who has set a pretty tough goal of becoming conversational in Spanish within 30 days. To do so he sets off to Medellin Colombia where he will work with a tutor on a daily basis to get him to be able to hold a 30 minute conversation with a native speaker by the end of the month. I won’t get into too many details as I don’t want to ruin the video, but Conor comes a long way in terms of his Spanish speaking within those 30 days which inspires him to start his own company that teaches other people Spanish. 

Together, Conor and his tutor start the company Baselang which focuses on giving the students an opportunity to have face to face interactions with native spanish speakers through Skype. Once I saw this, I signed up and was paying $129 a month to have unlimited classes using the “Real World” program. My experience with this was good but yet again after about one month I wasn’t making the progress I wanted and found there was much more emphasis on grammar than I was comfortable with. For years I was craving an opportunity to learn the language like a small child would learn their native language, no grammar just speaking and absorbing new words and information on a daily basis. So I ended up quitting…

About two years had passed and my interest for learning Spanish had started to come back again. I rewatched Conor’s video and thought I would take a look at the Baselang website again to see if any changes had been made. Sure enough there was a new program that was created which seemed to be made just for me called: 

Grammarless 

Grammarless is a much more intensive program that can be done online or in person in Medellin Colombia. You can choose between two 80 hours options which include 4 hours per day for 5 days a week for one month, or 2 hours per day for 5 days a week for two months. After reading through all the information about the program which guarantees you to be conversational in Spanish by the end of the program, I made the decision that I was going to spend the money to do it. 

The program has a cost of $900 if you pick the online option and I was luckily able to get $100 off due to a New Years sale the company was offering. While $800 seems like a lot of money it really is very reasonable. In exchange for $800 you get 80 hours of instruction which comes out to $10 per hour for one on one personal tutoring.

As of right now I am two weeks into the program and am staying motivated to give it my all over these next two months. I have tutoring 5 days per week for two hours and have the same teacher each day throughout the entire length of the program. I have made a promise to myself that this is the time I am going to do it, I won’t allow myself to be mentally weak and I will do whatever it takes to become successful in learning a new language.

So far I am pleased with the program but was disappointed to see that it is not 100% grammarless. There are still verb conjugations that I have to learn and I do believe the program lacks visual aids for those of us who do well learning visually. I do have a good teacher though and we have been able to focus on things other than just learning Vocab and conjugating verbs such as listening to spanish songs and reading spanish books. 

Being two weeks in I would say that my conversational skills have not gotten much better yet, but I am building the foundation that is needed.

While I have no affiliation with Baselang whatsoever other than being a student, I do encourage those of you who are interested in learning Spanish to check them out. https://baselang.com/ 

 I will be giving future updates on my progress and will share more with you in the future of why exactly I want to learn Spanish and how I think it will improve my life. 

This is just one example that shows that pursuing financial independence and early retirement is not about being cheap and never spending your money. It is all about finding things in your life that will make you happier, healthier, and a better overall person and investing your money and time in those things to make an investment in yourself. 

If anyone has any questions about Baselang or learning spanish in general feel free to leave a comment or send an email. 

Thanks for reading, 

Matt 

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