Confessions of a Polyglot: demotivation

I don’t know about the other polyglots, but I can’t keep myself motivated all the time while learning a language.

In June, I had a big problem to keep me motivated to study German. Like everyone else, when I start to learn a language I get very excited, I search for thousands of information about the language, materials and methods.

Learning a language is to know a new world. Despite the difficult task ahead of us, every little step is a big step forward. By learning a word, you have improved 100% in your language. Every word learned is a victory. The feeling of understanding for the first time a word in a sentence and after a sentence in context is indescribable. However, the better you get, the lower the returns.

Suddenly, to understand a phrase is normal, to read an article is no longer difficult. You are not fluent, but manages to get by in the language. The language is no longer a novelty for you. Your curiosity fades, you become fascinated with some other language, focused on some other task, goal or challenge of your life and gradually abandon the language. The result? Days, weeks or even months without studying the language.

pexels-photo-66143 rollercoaster

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My story with the Spanish language until the C1 level

So far, Spanish was the only language I made a proficiency test. I decided to attempt the C1 level and I got the diploma.

How I learned Spanish

I learned Spanish in a language school when I was 13. My parents wanted me to take English classes, but as I had a great passion for Spain at that age, it was my dreamland; I managed to convince them to let me do the Spanish course. As I was so interested in Spain, learning the language was something that came very natural to me; in addition, the similarities between Portuguese and Spanish helped me a lot.

I attended the course for one year and stopped at the intermediate level, after that, I only had contact with the language again at the age of 21, when I went to US – yes, the United States – and met a lot of Hispanic speakers. So, I had the opportunity to practice a little of what I had learned years before.

Then, I practice again occasionally at age 23 while working with foreigners. When I was 24 I spent a week in Peru and with 26 years I spent 10 days in Spain. At 27, I finally decided to take the proficiency test, but as you can see my contact with the language was not constant and definitely, it wasn’t fresh in my head, so I decided to take intensive classes.

So, I spent three weeks’ vacation studying in Arequipa, Peru. That was about 4 hours per day. The classes were focused on grammar and conversation; and a little writing. Basically, the book we used in class was “Preparacion DELE. C1. Libro + CD (Spanish Edition)”, as mentioned in this post.

The book simulates the exercises of the exam, but I found them a little easier than the real exam. My vacation was in September, the test was only in November, so I continued to study at home using books, as grammar books and the “Preparación al Diploma de Español” book- but the C2 level, to get something more challenging. I also heard podcasts in Spanish and read the newspaper “El País”.

The C1 level

According to the Instituto Cervantes website of the C1 diploma level certifies that:

1. Understand a wide variety of long, quite demanding texts, as well as recognise implicit meanings in them.
2. Express themselves fluently and spontaneously, without any obvious effort to find the right words.
3. Use the language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes.
4. And be able to produce clear, well-structured, detailed texts on topics having a certain level of complexity, with correct use of mechanisms for organising and articulating a cohesive text.

The exam

First day

The exam lasted two days. On the first day, the evaluation was oral.

First, they gave me the option to choose between two themes, I don’t remember the theme I’ve chosen, but I had 20 minutes to read the text and take notes. After a few minutes, the evaluation started. First, the evaluator introduced herself and we started the conversation. She asked me to make a summary of the text and my opinion on the matter. The whole time there was another person evaluating the conversation.

After, she showed me a hypothetical situation with some possibilities. My theme was raising money for graduation students. I do not remember very well the options, but if I remember correctly, two of them were making T-shirts or to organize a party. When choosing your option, you have to justify the reason of your choice. The evaluator makes some interventions and gives some opinions. The oral evaluation lasts 20 minutes.

I did not do very well in the oral test, because I was very nervous. It was my worst skill and I while leaving the Instituto Cervantes I was feeling very discouraged. I thought I had finished with my chances of getting the diploma.

Second day

The second day of exam was much longer. We started by the reading comprehension test.

Reading comprehension test

1. We had two long texts and we had to answer questions about them, some about the text itself, others about grammar.
2. In the second exercise, we had to put in order disorderly excerpts from a text. Yet, there is a false extract between them, so one had to be careful when doing this exercise, which was my favorite.

c1 - lectura - tarea 2

Model of the exam

3. In this exercise we had to relate numerous reviews with phrases about them. Some reviews have more than one sentence to describe them.
4. The last exercise is a bit more focused on grammar. It is a basic fill the gaps, for each gap there are three options.

The reading comprehension test lasts 90 minutes

Listening comprehension

Then we did the listening comprehension test. The exercises were also basic and before we start doing them, we had one minute to read the texts. All audios are repeated twice.

1. In the first exercise we heard an audio and we had to fill blank gaps in a text. They give 12 options to fill these gaps, but there are only 6 gaps.
2. In the second test we heard several small dialogues without pause. And in the text we have to answer what the person did or wished.
3. After that, we heard an interview and we had to choose the correct answers about the interview. For me, this was the hardest exercise.
4. The last exercise is the most interesting. We heard dialogues of few seconds with idioms and we have to select the correct option about it.

The listening comprehension test lasts 50 minutes.

Listening comprehension and written expression and interaction test

In the written part of the test we had two exercises.

1. In the first exercise, we heard an audio on some subject and we had to do a little text with our opinion on the matter.
2. In the second part, we had to produce a text and we are presented with two options. We can write a letter or an argumentative essay. In my case, I choose to do a report to a magazine about child nutrition. The written test lasts 80 minutes. It seems like a great amount of time, but in the end I had to write super-fast in the official test sheet, that is, at this stage you need to plan your time well.

At the end of the second day I left very optimistic about the exam, despite the pain in the neck (literally, for sitting hours in a non-ergonomic chair), I knew that I had done well in this part of the exam and I was right. I almost aced the reading comprehension test, with an average of 24.38 points of 25.


After waiting for a few months, I was able to see the test results online. And, after almost a year I got my diploma at the Instituto Cervantes.

My final result was APTO, the minimum number of points to be considered APTO is 60, I made 75.34 points out of 100. It wasn’t a great result, but good enough to be approved.


Everything I did helped me in the exam, especially taking private classes. But the book “Preparacion DELE. C1. Libro + CD (Spanish Edition)” and hearing podcasts were also essential and without these resources, I don’t think I would have succeeded in the exam.

For more information and to better understand how the test works you can access the website of the Instituto Cervantes and see examination samples.

And you? Did you take the exam? How it was for you?

15 days German progress video

It’s here!

My first video speaking German. The result: BAD!!

You can see I’m laughing, because I know it! Anyway, I promised, so here is the video.

I learned in the last 15 days, the basic structure of German, about 150 words, but I can only use 30% of it. Basically, I’m only using the FSI “German: a Programmed Introduction” and the Pimsleur courses. I’m studying about 2 hours a day only.

My goal for the next month is to speak something that makes sense, and not just throw phrases like I did it in this video.

Polyglot Nerd first video

I’m back and with some news!!!!!!

I have a new logo, with a clean look and I also changed a bit the website, hope is lighter now.

And I have a new project that I divulge in the video below.

This is my first video, so obviously I was a nervous, but I made it.

The video was no script, I don’t read anything and I didn’t edit, I don’t even know how to do it.

Hope you’ll like, I know the quality is not the best, I still  have a long way to learn how to do very cool videos.


Benefits of learning a foreign language

Need a little motivation to study? Here are some reasons why learning a language is beneficial.

Brains of bilingual have better executive function

What does this mean? The brain of bilinguals performs better on certain tasks that require planning and problem solving. This happens because the bilingual is forced to change languages constantly; this constant change requires the brain to pay greater attention to its surroundings, making it more efficient over time.

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Monolingual develop Alzheimer’s signs earlier than bilingual does. Being bilingual can delay up to 5 years the development of the disease. That is, learning a new language is more effective against Alzheimer’s that most of the available remedies.

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full brain

Changes your view of the world

Bilinguals have a different view of the world, literally. In the study below, it was shown that bilinguals perceive colors differently depending on the language they speak.

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Improves memory

One more benefit to the brain, children raised as bilingual have better memories than monolinguals.

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Improves job prospects

Research has shown that bilinguals in the same function as monolingual earn more. And the international expansion of companies makes people who speak more than one language more attractive to the job market.

Tourism and open-mindedness

In addition to facilitating communication in travel, speaking another language opens your mind to new things. Humans of course get uncomfortable when they are in a different environment and experience new things. However, people who speak more than one language are naturally more receptive to what is different.

In short: speaking more than one language improves your mental health, making your mind sharper. It improves the prospects for a good job and salary, and open your mind to the world! Do you need more reasons to learn a new language?

Debunking Myths

No matter what language you are learning, the time spent learning it is never wasted. Even if you use the language only once, on a visit to your dream country, speaking the language changes your experience. In addition, you change your view of the country and its citizens.

Parisians are snobbish and arrogant

Big lie, Parisians can be nice if you show that you are motivated to speak their language. It’s true they don’t like to be addressed in English, but if you try to speak French, even if your French is bad, they will switch to English and help you. Continue reading

Goals for 2015

So I kind of took a non-planned vacation from blogging to take care of personal life.

But since we are at the end of January, it is time to divulge my goals for 2015, which are not very different from my 2014 goals.

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There are three main objectives for the year:

  • Achieve advanced level in French.
  • Start learning German

And the more ambitious and more difficult for me:

  • I want to work on the language learning area, but my bachelor and work experiences are unrelated to this subject.

Let`s finally start 2015!!!!

Which are your goals?