Langcal.com Language calendars
My office with verb Hacer
For the last year I've been using a wall chart system in the form of a calendar to advance my Spanish. I've been studying Spanish on and off for years, and I would consider myself an eternally intermediate-level speaker.
I got this product as a gift last Christmas. It's a large wall calendar with each page or month devoted to a subject in Spanish (a verb or a point of grammar) and daily examples illustrating the subject. This one is called Essential Spanish 1.
First I thought it was an interesting gimmick. I put it up on the wall above my computer and started looking at it every day. Then it started to grow on me. First, it's a great memory tool. Just looking at it every day is a way of keeping things in my mind.
But that's just the start. The daily examples are graded from quite simple to somewhat advanced. The idea is that you choose a daily example --I do two or three--and just play with it. Memorize it, modify it, figure out how it works. On the website you can hear all the examples. The recordings are in various Latin American accents and not that natural but they give a good idea of how the examples should sound at real speed.
Before I forget, all the examples are translated at the back in French and English.
I've been using it for about 8 months, I've noticed a couple of things. First of all, my understanding of Spanish has progressed noticeably because I'm now hearing and seeing things that I've first seen in the calendar. I can't say how useful it has been to keep looking at these examples day in day out. It's like having a textbook open all the time.
The other thing that I've noticed is that my vocabulary and fluency have improved considerably. I belong to a Spanish meetup group and people always compliment me on my Spanish, especially my vocabulary. Of course, I work at it a lot. But what happens is that phrases that I've seen in the calendar pop up in my head and I just have to adapt them to the context and voila they come streaming out, to the astonishment of everybody.
I spend about two weeks on a given page. But sometimes I come back to certain pages. Before I forget, the calendar is perpetual, so I don't worry about the actual dates. There is so much material (over 600 examples) here that I don't think I'll ever run out of things to learn. Maybe there will be an Essential Spanish 2 one day.
There's also an Essential French 1 calendar. I can't say anything about it. I would assume it's just as good. I suggest people check out the website.