How to reignite your love for Spanish

how to reignate your love for Spanish

There’s something exciting about living new experiences, getting to know new people and new places. Novelty brings the best out of us.

Two weeks ago I started learning Italian. I’m using a language app and I’m loving it. I get a kick out of it. I’m always happy to learn and take every opportunity I have to do a few exercises on my phone. I’m so much into Italian that I started noticing all the Italians around me here in Barcelona. I’m amazed to see how many Italians live in the city.

I know though, that this ‘love affair’ with Italian won’t last forever. I know that sooner or later the honeymoon period will be over. And then what? Shall I give up learning Italian and start with another language? Shall I pick up a new hobby to get the thrill of novelty? The answer is no. If I want to see real progress and get the satisfaction of speaking Italian like a pro, I need to stick to it. And you too should stick to your Spanish to enjoy the reward of mastering the lingo.

The tricky thing here is how to ignite some passion with your Spanish. I reckon the answer is to spice your love for the language with some novelty. How? Here I leave you with some ideas that hopefully will make your love for Spanish a long and fruitful one.

1- Get a language exchange partner and practice each other’s language. It’s a fun and free way of speaking Spanish and making new friends.

2.-Take up a class of your interest in Spanish. i.e. cookery, photography, gardening, football …  Alternatively, you can organize a leisure activity with friends/language buddies and commit to ONLY speaking in Spanish.

3 -Create a Spanish book club and discuss a Spanish book, en español.

5 – Find a new and pleasant place to study, a charming café, an old fashion library, a bench in a park, whatever tickles your fancy.

6 – Travel to a Spanish speaking country. If you cannot afford it right now, you may want to start saving for the trip. This will motivate you to carry on studying.

7 – Start a Facebook page in Spanish and publish the new Spanish words and phrases  you’re learning. Invite people to join in.

8 – Volunteer for a Spanish speaking NGO. You’ll improve your Spanish, get to know new people and feel great by helping others.

9 – Get some ‘me time’, or I should say ‘me Spanish time’. Rather than viewing Spanish as an obligation, you can see it as a way of making time for yourself, a chance to get away from your daily commitments.

10 –  Learn about a new topic of your interest in Spanish. Ask yourself, ‘what would I like to learn about?’ Ancient Egypt, marketing, pregnancy, snooker? Search through the net, or go to your local library or book store.

These are just a few suggestions to help you fall in love with Spanish again. I hope these ideas will inspire you and bring new ones of you own. I’d love to know what you’ll do to keep the flames alive. Please, let me know in the comment section below.

 

If you haven’t join Spanish comes Easy yet, make sure you do, so I can send you all the stuff you need to take your Spanish to the next level and beyond…
 

Un abrazo,

Núria


7 way of using Youtube to improve your Spanish

7 ways to use YouTube to improve your Spanish

Have you ever thought about using Youtube to improve your Spanish?

Here is how to start:

1 – Learn new words, or review the ones you’ve seen in class

To expand your vocabulary, it always works better to study words which are related together, i.e family: father, mother, sister… , rather than picking a random list of words. By using a video, you can choose a theme: fruit, for instance, and you will get  a picture for every single word, how the word is written, as well as and audio to learn how the word is pronounced. This is an excellent practice for both, students who have a good-visual-memory, and for those who find it easier to pick up language by listening to it.

How to practice: Go to internet and type vocabulario ele (español lengua extranjera) + the vocabulary you would like to study + youtube. See below:

vocabulario ele +             la comida              +           youtube

vocabulario ele +             los números          +          youtube

vocabulario ele +             la ropa                    +          youtube

etc…

If you would like to practice the vocabulary for the weather, I advise you to go to RTVE: http://www.rtve.es/noticias/tiempo/ There you will find short videos, plus a text on the weather. Do not try to understand every single word you listen to, instead, see if you can get the general meaning of what they talk about.

2 – Review grammar

On this instance, Youtube can help you review a grammar structure that  you’ve already been introduced to in class. If you’d like to practice, let’s say the form of the verb haber: hay, or the imperative form, you would type:

youtube + español para extranjeros + hay.

youtube + español para extranjeros + imperativo   

I do not recommend you to use youtube to actually learn a new grammar point, unless you have been advise by a Spanish teacher, or a well advanced student  to visit a particular website.

3 – Improve your comprehension and pronunciation

As we’ve already seen in learn Spanish while watching TV, listening to a  Spanish speaker will allow you to improve your understanding of the language and also your pronunciation. Remember to use headphones to block any background noise.

4 – Watch a piece of news

Use Youtube to watch the news, and you’ll be able to talk to your Spanish speaking friends about current affairs. The advantage of  Youtube over TV – on this instance – is that you can be picky and decide what piece of news you want to watch. The inconvenience, specially for advance students, is that you may find youtube videos far too short for your liking.

5 – Improve your  vocabulary about your topic of interest

Due to the huge volume of videos that Youtube has, you’re bound to find lots of info related to your hobby, job, or any subject that matters to you. Let’s say you like bird watching and you watch videos related to it. Not only will you improve your vocabulary, but you’ll be able to talk about your passion, whatever it is.

6 – Get familiar with different accents

By watching videos recorded by people who come from different Spanish speaking countries, you’ll have the opportunity to get used to listening to different accents. This will not only help you understand people who come from different areas, but will also tune your ear to understand even those people who hardly articulate when speaking.

7 – Create a Spanish Youtube sharing club

Contact other Spanish student to share your youtube videos, and remember  again, you can use internet to find people willing to share. You’ll help each  other by saving your time searching for videos. I mean, you can search for a couple of videos, but get in return 10 videos from your Youtube sharing club. And you’ll get an extra benefit: you’ll feel more motivated.

A bonus tip:

If you happend  to come across a website which you find particularly helpful, you can bookmark it, or add it to your favourite bar, so that you can go back later and find more useful stuff.

A last note, I am a real fan of internet when it comes to learning Spanish. Still, in order to obtain what you’re exactly looking for, you need to perform a very precise search.

And as always, enjoy yourself! The more fun you have learning Spanish, the more you learn. So go for it!!

Psss… Before searching on the net for great youtube videos, please let me know what kind of stuff you are interested in.

Hasta pronto,

Núria

If you haven’t join Spanish comes Easy yet, make sure you do, so I can send you all the stuff you need to take your Spanish to the next level and beyond…
 

Use Spanish food idioms

Use Spanish food idioms

A long… time ago, when I was studying English here in Barcelona, a teacher of mine told me that British people eat to live, whereas Spaniards live to eat. I can’t talk on behalf of a whole nation, but I must admit that I LOVE food. I love it so much, that today I bring you 12 Spanish food idioms. I hope you find them useful. If you happen to know any others, please share them in the comment section below.

And what about you, ¿comes para vivir, o vives para comer?  (¿Do you eat to live, or live to eat?)

Un abrazo,

Núria

Spanish Expression Spanish English
Ponerse como un tomate Sonrojarse Blush
Estar como un queso Ser atractivo To be attractive
Estar hecho un fideo Ser muy delgado To be very skinny
Ser más bueno que el pan Ser muy buena persona To be a very good person
Ser pan comido Ser muy fácil To be very easy
Importar un pimiento No importar nada Don’t care
Estar como un flan Estar nervioso To be nervous
Ponerse como una sopa Estar empapado To be soaked
Estar hasta en la sopa Estar en todas partes To be everywhere
Ser un chorizo Ser un ladrón To be a thief
Cortar el bacalao Mandar To be in charge
Ser del año de la pera Ser muy antiguo To be very old

 

If you haven’t join Spanish comes Easy yet, make sure you do, so I can send you all the stuff you need to take your Spanish to the next level and beyond…

 


Have you got 3 minutes to spare?

3 minutes to spare

When we are a bit tight with time, we can become tremendously productive. And this is today’s challenge for you, to learn some Spanish in just 3 minutes, or even less.

The purpose? To improve your vocabulary.

How? By learning synonyms

(A synonym is a word that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language, i.e. big and large are synonyms).

Find the synonyms of the three following sentences. Choose one option per sentence. Please, write your answer in the comment section below. I’ll let you know if you got it right.

1- Mónica es muy inteligente.

a – sumamente

b – extensa

c – alta

2- Carlos es un pesado.

a – hortera

b – plasta

c – tacaño

Luca está contento.

a – enervado

b – ufano

c – distraído

 

And if you haven’t join Spanish comes Easy yet, make sure you do, so I can send you all the stuff you need to take your Spanish to the next level and beyond…

Un abrazo,

Núria


Subscribe to a Spanish site

Subscribe to a Spanish website

If you’re reading this article, it is because you’re on the net. So I guess you are used to travelling around the cyberspace. I know sometimes,  unwanted guests pop up in your email account when they haven’t even been invited. But what if you decided to invite one or two visitors to your mail account? And what if they were helping you improve your Spanish reading skills for FREE? Sure that would sound much better, wouldn’t it?

To welcome such generous visitors, you just need to subscribe to a Spanish site.

How to get started

– Think of your personal interests: your work, your studies, your hobbies, any topic that matters to you. When I first got pregnant, I subscribed to a parents site (in English) and I would spend hours reading articles on child rearing. Once my little girl Iona was born (she’s now 12) I had no time any more. Yet, those 9 months improved my English reading skills a great deal. The point is that when you have an interest: child rearing, car racing, cooking, politics, bird watching, football … reading on that topic is pure enjoyment.

– Search for a Spanish site. This way you’ll make sure you don’t get a bad Spanish translation.

Start by typing your topic of interest (in Spanish) + subscribirse. For instance, if you’re interested in decoration, you need to  type: decoración + subscribirse. Subscribe to the site that most appeals to you and, don’t worry, if later on you find the newsletter is not as interesting as you first thought, you can always unsubscribe and look for another site.

– Commit yourself to reading the Spanish weekly article you receive every week.

Why should I subscribe to a Spanish site when I can find Spanish articles on the net?

I personally enjoy surfing on internet to find articles of my interest. Yet, if you asked me how often I read articles on the net, I wouldn’t be able to give you a precise answer. It actually depends on how busy I am.

When learning a foreign language, it’s paramount to be consistent. Hence, by getting your weekly newsletter, you make sure that you’ll read at least one Spanish article a week. Besides, getting your newsletter won’t stop you doing some further reading on the net, quite the opposite, it may entice you to know more of your topic of interest, since quite often articles have links that take you to related topics.

By reading your weekly newsletter, you’ll be building up vocabulary on your topics of interest. Thus, next time you talk about… let’s say gardening, you’ll be loaded with new words to use.

Let’s recap

– Think of your personal interests

– Search for a Spanish site

– Get your Spanish reading stuff at your doorstep for FREE

– Commit yourself

– Read regularly

What sites are you going to join in? Please let me know in the comments below.

Un abrazo,

Núria

And if you haven’t join Spanish comes Easy yet, make sure you do, so I can send you all the stuff you need to take your Spanish to the next level and beyond…

 


Spanish False Friends

Sense títol

If I said that my friends mean a great deal to me, it wouldn’t surprise you. After all, we all care about those special people we choose to let in our life. We believe in them, and we value their loyalty because they are trustworthy.

Unfortunately, too often we come across false friends. I’m talking about those deceitful words that mislead us when we learn a foreign language. Those sneaky words that you don’t even bother to look up in a dictionary, because you believe to know their meaning.

I still remember an encounter I had with one such of a kind. That was many moons ago, when I was spending a summer holiday in Bournemouth. I was staying with an English family and it was dinner time when I did it: I used a false friend. Yes, I joyfully explained to my host family that I had spent the afternoon in the lavatory studying. When I saw everybody staring at me across the table, I knew something wasn’t quite right. – Lavatory, I repeated it, I studied in the lavatory… Eventually, the flabbergasted family understood that I had actually been studying in the school language laboratory.

As you can see,  I know what it is like to be misled by  false friends, and that is why I would like to help you disclose some of those double-dealing words in Spanish. But first of all, we need to see what false friends actually are:     

False friends or falsos amigos are pairs of words in two languages that look or sound like they might have the same meaning, but don’t. They can be rather misleading, and if you happen to use them, you’re bound to be misunderstood.

So, how can you avoid getting mixed up with such annoying words? There is only one answer: get to know the enemy!

Please, allow me to introduce you to some of the most common false friends:

English Term Spanish  Translation False friends
Actually En realidad, realmente Actualmente: currently
Carpet Alfombra, moqueta Carpeta: folder, file
Complexion Tez, cutis Complexión: build (anatomy)
Constipated Estreñido Estar constipado: to have a cold
Embarrassed Violento, incómodo Embarazada: pregnant
Fabric Tela, tejido Fábrica: factory
Introduce (someone) Presentar Introducir: to insert
Library Biblioteca Librería: bookshop
Sensible Sensato Sensible: sensitive

What I’d like you to do now

Have a close look at the above list and if there are any words that you already know, erase them, – you don’t need them – but make sure that you do know them. Next, have a second look and check if you have already been using a false friend. If that is the case, write down the English term and the Spanish translation – 3 words the most. Otherwise, just pick up 3 English terms and their translations.

It’s now time to start learning the Spanish words. How? By using them in your daily life. If you find it kind of hard to introduce your new words in a casual conversation, try talking about them to your friends and family. You could start by saying: – I just learned a new word … or – Did you know that in the Spanish lingo estar embarazada means to be pregnant… You could even use Facebook and share your false friends stories. Ask others to join in and talk about their encounters with false friends.

Finally, mark a day in your calendar – let’s say in a week’s time – and check yourself. Now you are ready to pick up another set of words.

And remember, make it enjoyable, have fun and everything will come easier.

 You can now test yourself with the exercise below

There is a mistake in each of the following sentences. Underline the mistakes and rewrite the sentences properly.

1-     Juan es un chico muy sensible, siempre piensa antes de actuar.

2-     La niña está constipada, le duele el estómago.

3-     Esta mañana he comprado dos libros en la biblioteca.

4-     Es muy tímida y siempre se embaraza cuando tiene que hablar en público.

5-     Me encanta la fábrica de tu falda.

6-     Actualmente no quería molestarte.

7-     Me gustaría introducirte a mi amiga Rosa.

8-     Esta crema hidratante es para la complexión.

9- Cuando llega el invierno, me gusta usar carpetas en casa.

Once you get to know a false friend some kind of magic happens, and the annoying word becomes your best friend – well maybe not, maybe just a friend – still, it helps you communicate better when talking in Spanish.

Go to comments and post your answers. I’ll let you know if you’ve got it right : )

Thanks for reading.

Núria 

And what to do next? Subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll send you more Spanish stuff. I’m sure you don’t want to miss it. 😉

 


A Spanish App that you may like

Use a Spanish app

There’s so many tools you can use to learn Spanish and that includes apps. The other day a dear student of mine, mentioned to me an app that she’s using to learn Spanish: BrainPOP Español – Película del día.
What it consists of

It is a series of animated videos and related materials for young students. Topics range from science, humanities, maths, health, technology, art, music and Spanish.

Pros

– The videos are very short – around 3 minutes – which means you need very little time to watch them. Watching a video can easily become part of your daily routine.

– They’ve got subtitles. This makes them easier to follow, since you can read while watching the film.

– There’s is only one character that talks, and talks very clearly and not too fast.

– The questionnaires can help you reinforce what you have already learned.

– You can learn new facts and curiosities.

– It’s free to download. You can watch a video a day. If you want to have full access, then of course, you need to pay.

Cons

Some activities are just for children.

The topic of the day may not be of your interest. Then again, the videos are so very short, that I believe it’s worth watching them all.

How to make the most of it

Assign a specific time to watch a video every day.

For beginners:

Your attitude should be, ‘what can I get out of this?’ Remember you don’t need to understand it all. Just get the idea. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with watching the video, stop and go back later on or give it a go the next day.

Since the videos are ever so short, you can watch them twice. See how much more you got the second time.

For more advanced students:

If you find the videos far too easy, instead of watching them, just listen to the audio.

Do the questionnaire. It’s a way of reinforcing the vocabulary you’ve already seen on the video.

Warning!

If you’re a VERY advanced Spanish student, you may find this app may not be for you.

 

I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to know how it goes. If you’re using any app that you find helpful, please share it in the comments below.

Un abrazo,

Núria

 

 


Improve your Spanish while shopping

Improve your Spanish while shopping

Have you ever thought how much your daily or weekly shopping could help you improve your Spanish language?

There is only one way of learning Spanish and that is speaking the language. Therefore you need to find as many occasions as possible to practice the Spanish lingo. The problem is that at times when we don’t feel confident in speaking a foreign language, we tend to avoid any contact with the locals. When shopping, we either go to supermarkets, or to shops where we hardly utter a single word, well perhaps we just say a mere gracias, that’s it.

Imagine if every time you went shopping: to the bakers, the grocery shop, the butcher’s, or the fishmonger’s you spoke in Spanish. That would be an excellent practice for you, and would help you gain your confidence.

How to start

– Write down a script if you’re a Spanish beginner. See an example below:

Greeting – Hola
Order your food – Necesito …
Ask who is the last one in the queue    When you are last in the queue – ¿El último?

– Soy yo.

When asked if you need anything else:

– ¿Algo más? Anything else?

– Say you dont’ need anything else

 

– No, gracias

– Say goodbye – Gracias, adiós

– Make a Spanish shopping list, use capital letters. Thus, if you feel stuck when shopping, you can always hand out your list to the shopkeeper.

– Shop always in the same grocery. The reason being is that you will feel more at ease speaking to the same person, and you will get used to their accent. If you are not happy with your shopkeeper, change shop.

– When queuing, listen to the locals. This is an excellent listening comprehension exercise. Pay attention on how they greet when they come in and out of the shop. Listen also to them when they chat about the weather, or any other small talk.

If you are a Spanish beginner,  just focus on one issue, the numbers, for instance. You can revise the Spanish numbers when paying the bill.

If you are confident with your Spanish, pay attention on grammar issues, such as prepositions, the conditional form, or past tenses.

By regularly going to the same shop, you’ll get acquainted with your shopkeeper, and so you can start doing some small talk yourself. And remember, Spanish people will appreciate you making an effort to speak their lingo. Actually, they will like you much better if you speak in Spanish.

A plus benefit that you’ll gain when shopping in Spanish is that you’ll get into the Spanish way of life, and you’ll be able to become part of the Spanish community.

When I used to live in London I was able to improve my English language, yet  what I most value of my experience living away, was seeing the world from another window. I learned that there is not just a right way, (my way) of doing things. Now I live in Barcelona with my Scottish husband, and our daughter Iona, brought up in a Catalan, Spanish and British world. How fortunate she is!

Let’s Recap

– Write down a script.

– Make a Spanish shopping list.

– Shop always in the same grocery.

– When queuing, listen to the locals

– Make small talk

– Get to know a new culture

For those of you who are not currently living in a Spanish speaking country, you can also do some Spanish shopping

Let’s see how:

– Is there any shopkeeper in your town who’s a Spanish speaker? You may already know someone. Explain to him/her that you’re studying Spanish and that you would like to practice the language. I’m certain that your shopkeeper will be more than happy to help you.

– Search on the net for any Spanish groceries in your town and set a day in your timetable so that you make sure you don’t miss your Spanish shopping. Imported food tends to be rather expensive. Yet, you could just buy one or two items at a time.

– If you can’t find any Spanish shop nearby, you could look for a language partner to do a language exchange. When you do language swapping, you speak half of the time in English and the other half in Spanish. Ask your language partner to go shopping with you (on this instance you can go to a supermarket). While you’re doing your daily or weekly shopping, talk about the items you’re buying, in Spanish of course. You could also talk about the main differences in your diet and that of your Spanish partner, now it’s the right time to be introduced into a new world of flavours.

By shopping in Spanish you will learn heaps of vocabulary on food, the weather, numbers and much more … You will get a taste of the Spanish culture. Enjoy it!

I’d love to know about your Spanish shopping experience. Leave a  comment in the section below.

Hasta luego,

Núria


Spot the 6 Spanish mistakes

Can you spot the mistakes

Today I bring you a little challenge, a Spanish challenge of course. I’ve written 6 Spanish sentences – each one with a mistake in it – and I want you to spot the errors.

The first three sentences are for Spanish beginners and the other three are for more advanced Spanish students. Leave your answers in the comment section below. Not sure? Just give it a go. It’s fun and you’ll learn some Spanish!

Here you have the sentences:

1 – Voy en Roma mañana.

2 – Max es muy cansado

3 – Me duele mi cabeza.

4-  No me recuerdo lo que me dijo Carlos.

5- No creo que voy al cine esta noche, estoy muy cansado.

6 – Cuando tienes tiempo, compra fruta, por favor.

Un abrazo

Núria


Plan A or Plan B?

Plan A Plan B

Hi there,

I’m so tired that I don’t know how I got up here. I’m sitting in one of my favourite cafés in Barcelona writing to you. Early this morning Iona started coughing at 5:00am, nothing too bad, but it was enough to keep me awake.

Sometimes we lack energy, or we’re just simply not in the mood to work much. Unless we MUST do something, when given the choice, we just chose to take it easy. And sometimes this is fine. The only problem is that we might end up feeling kind of guilty for not keeping up with our goals.

Don’t worry; I’ve got a great solution. What if you had a plan B?  What I mean is that for those days that you haven’t got much energy, or you’re not particularly motivated, you can do a Spanish activity that hardly requires an effort. It’s better to do a little than nothing at all. And conversely, when you’re highly motivated, you can follow plan A, do a Spanish activity that requires some time and concentration on your part.

Perhaps you feel that having to think of a plan A/B for your Spanish is too much of a hassle, but let me tell you the secret to becoming proficient in Spanish: perseverance. By following plan A/B, you’ll make sure that you make daily progress – regardless of how little at times – and you’ll also ensure that you don’t fall off the Spanish wagon.

You can find below a few suggestions on how to create an A/B plan.

Plan A

happy face

Plan B

Unhappy face

What you can do in a good   day, when  you’re highly   motivated What you can do when you are tired or not up to much.
Create a play list with Spanish songs. Pick a song and look up any new words. Play a Spanish song from your play list.
Do a few exercises to review the Spanish grammar (Focus only on one grammar point). Have a look at an exercise you’ve already done and take note of any mistakes that you might have made.
Write a text. You can write a Spanish journal. Write just ONE sentence in Spanish.
Create or add new words on your own Spanish dictionary and use Google calendar to test your Spanish vocabulary. Have a look at your notebook and post a Spanish word you want to remember on FB or any other social media.
Go and meet a Spanish speaking friend or a language exchange partner. Leave a Spanish voice message to a Spanish speaking friend or a language exchange partner. Alternatively, record yourself in Spanish on your phone for ONE minute.
Watch a Spanish video. Watch a video for ONE minute. You can  time yourself.

This list could go on and on. It’s really up to you to decide what works best for you and create your own list. Notice that the activities on plan B required very little time. Sometimes only ONE minute. If after a minute you feel up to doing a bit more, great, go on! Otherwise, be happy with yourself, because you’re on track, you followed you plan  B.

I’d love to know what works for you. Can you add any suggestions?  Please share them in the comment section below.

Un abrazo,

Núria


Easy to follow Steps to start using your Spanish grammar and vocabulary, get Your Spanish into your daily life, and feel happy with yourself.