My New Years Spanish Resolution

Rob Ashby
The Spanish Obsessive

We’ve reached 2019, so I want to make and share my Spanish New Years Resolution with you! Read on to find out what I’ll be doing, as well as how and why I’ll be doing it.

Failed Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are famous for failure. It’s a cliche, but everyone who has ever made a resolution knows the slow slide from enthusiasm and discipline to apathy and neglect, usually over around 4-6 weeks.

I’m as guilty as anyone. Over the years, I’ve taken up and given up guitar, yoga, computer programming, gardening, and many more.

Somehow, I’ve managed to attain a decent level of Spanish despite my general laziness and incompetence.

This year, though, things really are going to be different!

This one’s different (really)

My big mistake with my previous resolutions was due to a lack of accountability. I might have mentioned my resolutions to friends and family, but no one really cared if I completed them or not, and I didn’t really have any skin in the game. Whether I was successful or not didn’t really matter.

To get this resolution to stick, I’m making myself accountable. I’ve actually booked in the start and end point, and I’ll be sharing every step of my journey with you.

Another reason I failed previously was due to a lack of a specific time-frame. Just saying that I would continuously, or permanently do something, without a specific goal, or time in mind, meant that I petered out after a few weeks.

This time, though, I’ve set dates in the diary, and I’m pretty specific about what I’m going to do.

My Spanish (New Year’s) Resolution

My goal is to reach C2 level on the Common European Framework of Languages (CEFR), within the year.

That’s the highest level, and it’s tough. Here’s a description from Exam English, about reaching C2 in English (my bold text):

The capacity to deal with material which is academic or cognitively demanding, and to use language to good effect at a level of performance which may in certain respects be more advanced than that of an average native speaker.

That last part scares me. Is this even possible?

As an English teacher, I had one class of students who were preparing for their C2 exams. They were all Swedish (who are famously good at English, along with most Scandinavian countries), and I honestly felt that they could have taught the classes themselves.

Can I really reach that level in Spanish? And, how will I know if I have?

Testing, testing

In English, we have the IELTs (International English Language Testing Scheme), which provides a general score for someone’s English competence – it’s the bane of every foreign student’s life.

Spanish uses the SIELE – the Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española. It provides a score between 1 – 1,000, divided into 4 parts: Reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It’s a five hour exam, which sounds fun.

I’ll be taking that. Twice. Once in January, and again towards the end of the year.

This way, we’ll be able to see what level I am at the start, and then how much I improve (or not).

I’m a little nervous…

Clearly, I’m not starting from zero. I’ve got a decent level of Spanish (ahem), and am lucky to be surrounded by Spanish despite living in London. I feel conversationally fluent, and don’t have any problems being able to express what I want. I also understand everything I hear.

However, I feel I haven’t made so much progress recently. I’ve been comfortable for a long time now (nothing wrong with that, of course), and haven’t really made much effort with my own Spanish. I definitely haven’t been practising what we preach on Spanish Obsessed.

I’m quite proud of my level of Spanish, and am a little nervous that the exam will show me up! What if I’m nothing like as good as I think I am? What if I make little to no progress?

This is no small undertaking, and at this point I’m not sure if it’s even possible.  I’m putting it all on the line…

How am I going to do this?

I’ll be committing to Spanish, every day. I’ll be taking advice from other teachers and successful language learners, and will build out a study plan based on what I need to improve (the first exam results should help with this).

I’m fortunate to be able to practise Spanish every day with Lis, but that alone isn’t enough. I’ll need to read, watch, listen to, and consume high level Spanish, and optimise my study patterns for the best results.

I’ll update you on my progress every step of the way. I’ll share what I’m doing, what I’ve learned, what does and doesn’t work, as well as actual Spanish tips (really!) that I pick up on the way.

An invitation: Join me, and make 2019 your year of Spanish.

I’d like to invite you to join me in my journey, and make 2019 the year that you really conquer Spanish.

You don’t need to take an exam, and you certainly don’t need to aim for a C2 level.

You just need to pick a goal that’s right for you, commit to it, and share it. Share it with me, share it with everyone at Spanish Obsessed, share it with everyone you know, and we’ll help you stay on track.

Here’s how:

  1. Take a look at Planning Your Language Learning (8 minutes read)
  2. Think about what you want to achieve with your Spanish in 2019, and how you’ll get there
  3. Hit “comment” and let us know what you plan to achieve in 2019

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21 comments. Leave new

Hey Rob, that sounds like a well thought out resolution. Mine isn’t quite so well planned, but maybe I’ll take a lead out of your book. I’m aiming to hit conversationally fluent in Spanish this year. It seems a long way off now but I’m planning to set aside study time every day so we shall see.

Hey Josiah
Good to hear! Any idea how you’ll know when you’ve reached conversational fluency? You could try recording yourself now, and in six months time, to see how far you’ve come!

Hey Rob! So great to hear that you are setting the goal to pass the test to certify your level of Spanish. I’m very excited for you and I’m sure that with the help of Liz you’ll be more than prepared when the time comes :). I’m hoping to take a test for C1 myself and I’m very nervous. Quick question, will you be taking the SIELE exam or the DELE exam? I could definitely be wrong, but I thought SIELE only certifies through C1. Am I mistaken? I only ask so that you can plan accordingly. With DELE there are specific exam days so I just want to give you a head’s up. I wish you all the best and I look forward to hearing the good news about whichever exam you choose to take!

Hey Fredrick
Yes, I realised after I booked the SIELE that it only certifies up to C1… On the other hand, from what I understand you do get a more granular score, rather than a binary pass/fail.
I’ll look to do the actual C2 DELE later in the year 🙂
When are you looking to do the C1 exam?


My language goals are to have a very strong B2 spanish with close to C1 on speaking and listening, I also want to get to a strong B1 in my portuguese! Espero que vaya bien contigo, y ya veremos que pasa?

Good luck Kieran! Let us know how you get on.

Tiffany Anderson
3rd January 2019 1:09 pm

Hey Rob!! Good luck on your goal this year!! Think of it as an adventure, and maybe it won’t seem so scary…. Maybe…

My resolution is to work on conversational Spanish. My pronunciation is fine, well besides some troublesome letters, but I keep switching to English whenever I don’t know a word, or if a topic is too hard to explain. When I write, however, I can do it, but not when speaking. Weird. So, goal for 2019, speak Spanish without switching to English.

Good goal! Will be interested to hear how you get on.

C2 is a very ambitious target.

I have passed DELE B1 and I probably know 60-70% of what is required by B2.

For a native English speaker (who has strong English in its own right), I think it is tougher to bridge the gap between passing b2 and c2 than the gap between knowing nothing and passing b2.

Hi Mustafa

Yes, C2 is definitely pretty ambitious. It will be interesting to see what level I already have reached. I’m guessing somewhere between C1 and C2, but hopefully the exam won’t cut me down to size too much!

Are you looking to do the B2 exam next?

I learned English and Urdu and elements of Arabic at home, growing up.

But I only got into Spanish because of its ubiquity and how painful it felt not to know what was being said everywhere I went.

The process opened my eyes to grammar and etymology and the fact that many words in English are derived from latin: and, Spanish is pretty close to modern day latin.

English is a weird language if you study the issue closely… digressing heavily…

My goal is to have b2 or better in English, Spanish, Urdu, French and Arabic.

I get exposure to spanish on aregular basis so I’m not too worried…

Right now I am studying French and I’d say i have an A2 level in it.

It is a tradeoff… do you want to be c2 in one or two other languages or b2 in five or six languages.

I am interested to know if you will be working a full time job during this mission.

Best of luck in your endeavor to obtain this goal; it is not easy.

Vale. Te deseo mucha suerte en conseguir esta meta. No es nada fácil.

Bien. Je voudrais que vous prenez le niveau c2. Ce n’est pas du tout facil. Bonne chance.

I have made the same goal for 2019. It was actually my goal for 2018, but due to a move and other things I wasn’t able to accomplish it. I would love to know your plan for reaching it.

Hey Chris
Good to hear you’re aiming for the same goal. I’ll be creating more blog posts about my plans and progress in the next few days, so hopefully you’ll find that helpful!

Congratulations on your new goal and your plan to achieve it! I admire your commitment. My goal for this year is to improve my conversational skills to a more fluent level. I hope to be at the B1 level, but most importantly I just want to feel more comfortable having a conversation. My husband is a native Spanish speaker, so I should have lots of opportunities. I have already been receiving 1 to 1 lessons with a native speaker online, which has helped tremendously, but to improve my current study habits I would like to be more consistent. So I plan to use Spanish everyday when speaking with my husband, read or write daily (even if it’s only 5 minutes), and improve my listening skills during my commute.

Hi Erin
Good luck with your goal – consistency is key. Like you say, even just five minutes a day really adds up over the long term.

Hola Rob,
I loved reading about your plan. My goal is to improve my conversational fluency by the end of the year. To get there, my plan includes 1) listening to Spanish Obsessed during my commute (about 25 minutes each way) and then reviewing the transcripts and notes on the weekends; 2) meeting for a one hour lesson with a Spanish teacher every week; 3) doing 10 minutes twice a week in my Spanish grammar (drill) book; 4) practicing my speaking skills while I am walking the dog. (Don’t worry, we go early or late when no one else is around!); 5) attending a Spanish immersion program for one week in Costa Rica. By the end of the year, I plan to be able to understand 80% of the Intermediate 2 podcasts without (much!) effort and to be able to give a short summary of four of the podcasts in spoken Spanish (5 – 7 sentences). -Laurie

Sounds great Laurie – let us know how you get on!

Thanks Rob – This is exactly what I needed! The reason I wanted to learn Spanish was to communicate with others in Spanish, as well as learning a new skill. My progress is painstakingly slow, but my goals for this year is 1) to become confident in using the present, preterite and perfect tenses and to learn the future tense, 2) to increase my vocabulary.
My plan is to continue to listen to podcasts on my commute and talk to a Spanish friend each week. I’m going to complete your vocabulary course – which I find very helpful but have struggled to find the time this last year to do. Last, I’m going to read something in Spanish two days a week.
Best of luck in your goals!

Thanks Hannah, good luck to you too and let us know how you get on!

Hi Rob!
I recently passed the DELE Nivel B1, the exam for which I had taken in November last year. Unfortunately, I have not studied too much Spanish after that.
For this year, I hope to reach level B2, preferably by mid year. I could also strive for C1 but frankly, I believe that will be asking too much of myself, given I have some other commitments too, as well as my job, to take care of.
I think the major blockers in my case are not dedicating enough time and difficulty finding Spanish speakers around me. But yeah, I would like to see how far I can go (definitely B2, at least) this year. And I will try to follow your progress too.
All the best!

Thanks, good luck with your goal!

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