Progress update: Conversation Confidence

Rob Ashby

Rob Ashby

The Spanish Obsessive

You might have noticed a couple of posts recently about a course we have in the pipeline: Conversation Confidence. We’re super-excited about this course, but it’s taken a lot longer to produce than we anticipated! In this post we’ll take you behind the scenes, and bring you up to speed on the latest for this exciting upcoming course.

We’re sorry…!

When Lis and I were planning this course, she asked me how long it would take us to produce. I fell into the trap I always fall into: I completely underestimated how long this would take. We originally thought we’d be able to launch in April or May this year. Fast-forward to October and it’s only now that the end is in sight!

Everything about this course was harder than we thought

We always knew it was something which our users most wanted: speaking is hard, and is the biggest challenge for most Spanish learners. Producing a course that helps your speaking skills begs all sorts of questions, and it took us a long time to come up with the answers.

Phase one was planning. We started a plan in Google docs, which quickly expanded to over 60 pages long. We’ve broken the course into 6 modules, covering the various speaking scenarios:

  • Small talk
  • Conversations with strangers
  • Descriptions
  • Storytelling and narratives
  • Self-expression
  • Getting stuff done

We used a wealth of technology and materials to find common conversation “patterns” that could fit into these modules, including a natural language corpus (I had to learn how to use that first, of course!).

We also decided that we’d try a new media for us: video. Fortunately, my Dad is an ex BBC video editor, so we had no excuses! Still, I vastly underestimated how long it takes to produce one minute of video, compared to one minute of audio (our bread and butter!).

This is the first video series we’ve attempted, but we’re pleased with the results!

We also wanted to make this a course with a twist. How can we encourage people to participate? We’ve built out a forum for course members, and filmed a series of “conversation challenges” to complete during the course.

And of course, everyone loves a download. We’re effectively producing a book to be used alongside the course.

All in all, it’s been a lot of work! So, we’re sorry things have been a little quiet, but behind the scenes we’ve been hard at work.

We’ve been taking feedback along the way

One of the biggest changes we made with producing this course was to open it up to Beta testers before we launch. This gives us valuable feedback early on, and meant that we could course-correct as we continued to roll out the course. As a result of this constant feedback, we’ve made important changes to the course, including shortening lessons, allowing authentic conversation, and trialing the forum.

Thank you to all of the participants. We know it’s been quiet recently, but we’ll be in touch again soon with more updates (and asking for more feedback!).

Here’s a taster video, from the module “Storytelling and narratives”. This video will help you understand the difference between the imperfect and the preterite. It’s a little more grammar-focused than the rest of the course, but we think you’ll find it useful 🙂

Light at the end of the tunnel

After steadily ploughing through video edits and animations for months now, we think we’ve cracked it! We’re about 70% of the way there, and now that we’ve figured out how to do things a little more efficiently, we can speed down the final straight.

We (tentatively) hope we’ll have some good news before Christmas. Stay tuned, we’re excited about this one!

5 Responses

  1. I’m very impressed by the clarity of your explanation of preterite versus imperfect that you describe as two different aspects of the “past” tense of a verb.

    I’m also impressed by the skill that you demonstrate in the production of your multimedia presentation. I am retired, but in the very recent past I was a multimedia instructional designer. I designed and produced hundreds of tutorials and full scale online university classes during my 20 year career in educational technology.

    I have been studying Spanish every day for the past six months using a variety of resources. I am still having trouble with ser versus estar and conjugating other irregular verbs– but after I progress to a level that allows me to have simple conversations for asking and understanding directions, and how to order food, or ask questions in an airport, I will likely sign up for the professional level of Spanish Obsessed. I would also like to take a Zoom-based course in your Academy.

    By the way, I also want to be evaluated to make sure I sign up for the right course in your academy. How much does the evaluation cost? Or is it included in the tuition for an Academy course?

    As a professional designer I can tell you with certainty that your adoption of video resources will make your courses more effective. Do remember to keep videos relatively short. Th!ere is a ton of research that the longer a video tutorial is the hard it becomes to retain learners. You should also shoot your courses using 4k video– you don’t have to offer videos in 4k, but the very high level of resolution in 4k makes gives you more flexibility in editing video clips.

    Good luck!

    1. Gracias Thomas!
      We’re working on our video skills, and hope to continue to improve these over time 🙂
      Hope you enjoy and benefit from the courses!

  2. ¡Esto fue muy útil! Es bueno saber que ustedes están aquí para ayudar. Lucho con el español. Ayudas mucho con mi español. Gracias.

  3. ¡Esto fue muy útil! Es bueno saber que ustedes están aquí para ayudar. Lucho con el español. Ayudas mucho con mi español. Gracias.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter your desired password twice. Must be at least 8 characters long.

Forgot Password?