Whether you’re looking for a job in a Spanish-speaking country or already have one, writing formal letters in Spanish is a task that every businessperson has to tackle at one point or another. I used to have a hard time with anything formal because my work has mostly been on the creative side of things. I can’t even wear a tie without feeling like I’m being strangled by a very weak yet determined man! However, I had to learn how to be formal if I wanted to advance in my career. Some people prefer formalities, others don’t really mind, but having this skill is important if you want to sound serious about what you’re doing and convince others of the quality work you’re showing. So today I’ll give you formal words and phrases so that you can write those important letters without worry!
Titles and job descriptions
People in Latin America’s business world take titles very seriously. Some might even get offended if you don’t address them properly! So before you find out if they’d rather be called by their first name it’s always a good idea to call them by their title. Here’s a list of the most common titles, greetings, and relevant job descriptions:
- Lic.: Short for Licenciado. This title is given to people who have graduated from college in most of Latin America and Spain. Licenciaturas are different than an undergraduate degree, though. They last longer (about 4-6 years) and they stand between undergraduate and graduate school in terms of information given. This one is commonly used for lawyers too.
- Dr.: You can probably figure this one out. Doctores are highly regarded in most if not all of the globe, and they tend to be proud of their title – with good reason. Becoming a doctor sure is difficult!
- Sr./Sra.: Short for Señor y Señora. These are used for formal events like weddings, graduations, religious ceremonies, etc.; however, they also work for business if you don’t know the recipient’s specific title. Their English counterparts are Mr. and Mrs.
- Srta.: Short for Señorita. Much like its English counterpart Miss, this applies to unmarried women. It’s kind of old fashioned if you ask me, but it’s still widely used in Latin America. Fun fact: we do have a neutral word to address women in Spanish – Seño! This applies to all women, but it’s very informal and not suitable for a letter.
- Ing.: Short for Ingeniero. Engineering jobs are highly esteemed in Latin America, and while you can call them Sr. or Sra., it’s respectful to call them Ing. instead.
- Prof.: Short for Profesor. This refers to college professors and it’s useful to know if you’re going to be working in a university abroad.
Additionally, when addressing someone on the envelope of the letter, remember to add the word presente after the title and name, since this is how we usually address someone in formal letters. A made-up example would be: Dr. Raúl Morataya, presente.
Greetings and Salutations
English is a language that has beauty in its simplicity. Instead of having three different formality levels, there’s only ‘you,’ and instead of having lots of ways to greet someone in a letter or email, there’s simply ‘Dear,’ which is simpler if you ask me.
- Estimado: In Spanish, there are two levels of formality when writing a letter: Querido / Estimado. These translate literally to Loved / Esteemed, but they serve the same function as the English ‘Dear.’ Querido is informal while Estimado is formal.
- A quien interese: Translates to ‘to whom it may concern’.
- Al departamento de: Translates to ‘to the department of:’ (and you put the type of department afterward – marketing, accountability, etc.).
Now that you’ve properly addressed the recipient, it’s time to say hi! These are some ways to greet someone in a formal letter:
- Reciba usted un cordial saludo: ‘I give you a warm greeting’
- Espero se encuentre gozando de buena salud: ‘I hope you’re in good health’
- Espero esta carta le encuentre bien: ‘I hope this letter finds you well’
- Mediante la presente, quisiéramos comunicarle que: ‘Through this medium we’d like to tell you’
- El motivo de la carta es: ‘The purpose of this letter is’
- Por la presente, quisiéramos hacerle llegar nuestra invitación: ‘Through this medium, we’d like to extend our invitation’
- Quisiera solicitar el puesto de: ‘I would like to apply for the job of’
- Le escribo para consultar acerca de: ‘I am writing to inquire about’
- Lamento informarle: ‘I regret to inform you that’
- Estamos felices de informarle: ‘We’re pleased to inform you that’
Farewell and sign off
Now that you’ve successfully expressed yourself, it’s time to say goodbye. These are some useful phrases to end a formal letter
- Atentamente: ‘Sincerely’
- Le agradezco de antemano: ‘Thank you in advance’
- Cordialmente: ‘Cordially’
- Se despide, Atentamente: ‘I take my leave, sincerely’
- Un cordial saludo: ‘Cordial greetings’
- Cuento con usted, atentamente: ‘I count on you, sincerely’
- Quedo a la espera de su respuesta: ‘I await your response’
- Sin otro particular, se despide atentamente: ‘Without further ado, sincere farewell’
You may have noticed the word Atentamente shows up quite a lot. While it’s letter-writing parallel is ‘Sincerely’, its literal translation means ‘attentively.’ Both words have the same use in a letter but carry different meanings, so keep that in mind!
Here’s an example letter to guide you through the motions of writing a letter:
Estimado Ing. Pérez,
Espero se encuentre gozando de buena salud. Mediante la presente, quiero comunicarle mi agradecimiento por dar de su tiempo para reunirse con la junta directiva la semana antepasada. Estamos felices de informarle que su propuesta de asesoría al personal mantenimiento de maquinaria pesada nos ha parecido de interés, por lo que cordialmente lo invitamos a la planta para negociar los honorarios que recibirá en caso desee aceptar trabajar con nosotros.
Un cordial saludo,
And here’s the example translated:
Dear Mr. Pérez,
I hope you’re in good health. Through this letter I would like to thank you for your time spent at the meeting with the board two weeks ago. We’re glad to inform you that your proposal regarding the consulting services you offered to provide to our heavy machinery maintenance personnel seems to be of interest to us. We cordially invite you to our central plant to negotiate the payment you’ll receive in case you choose to accept working with us.
And there you have it! This info will help you show Spanish speakers you mean business. If you want to blow your Spanish-speaking clients away, why not take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy to drastically improve your language skills?
One of the best feelings you can get while abroad is that moment when you are lost, confused, or just making a fool out of yourself and a kind stranger approaches you to help out. Whether you’re looking for a street name or trying to decipher the bus chart like it’s an ancient pharaoh’s tomb, the kindness of those who help stands out more when you’re travelling. Acts of kindness from foreigners have even been the subject of old tales such as ‘The Good Samaritan’, and it gets me thinking on why is it that we notice kindness more when it’s in a strange place? Maybe it’s because we feel lost, or maybe it’s because we don’t expect it. Either way, I see it as an opportunity to appreciate how most people are willing to help out regardless of where you come from.
Latinoamérica has a culture that holds religion and family in high regard. I’m sure most Latinos will say familia is on their top 5 things they’re grateful for. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s relevant to point out that this holiday is not yet celebrated in most Spanish speaking countries. There are a few exceptions, though. In my case specifically, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with my coworkers from the US, since they usually organize a dinner with friends to keep their traditions alive even when living elsewhere. Here are some of the ways we express gratitude in Spanish!
Non-verbal ways to express gratitude
Just as we are a family-centered culture, we’re also a food-centered culture. Most, if not all of our celebrations involve food, and this includes displays of gratitude! One of my best friends saved my bacon a couple of weeks ago. She went out of her way to print my essay and hand it in on time while I was running late in a panic because the teacher was about to leave. To say thanks, I bought her a candy bar on the campus vending machine to express my gratitude. Inviting someone to dinner, coffee, or a snack is a very Latino way of saying thanks! Just make sure it’s someone you’re friends with since most of the time we only do this at a more personal level. Some people in our culture will refuse when you ask them to pay back, so this is often an alternative that’s easier to accept – and more fun too!
Another way to express gratitude is through the written word. In our modern era where technology has facilitated communication in ways we’ve never experienced before, a written letter is something that still holds power and conveys meaning through the ink itself. Culturally, letters are given as birthday gifts, love letters, and as gifts to loved ones who are about to leave for a while. These can also work as nice mementos of people you meet along your travels, so writing a letter to a host family, or the lady that sold you breakfast on the streets during your stay in Guatemala is a nice way to thank them for their hospitality! Here’s an example letter so you can write a letter in Spanish to someone you care about.
Querida familia anfitriona,
Quiero agradecerles por su hospitalidad mientras estuve viviendo en su casa. ¡No sé qué hubiera hecho si no me hubieran ayudado cuando me dejó el bus en mi primer día como voluntario! Nunca voy a olvidar nuestro viaje a Cobán, estoy seguro que a mis hermanos les va a encantar el ceviche que me enseñaron a cocinar.
Les deseo lo mejor y espero poder venir a visitarlos pronto.
Dear host family,
I want to thank you for your hospitality while I was living here with you. I don’t know what I’d done if you hadn’t helped when the bus left me behind on my first day as a volunteer! I’ll never forget our trip to Cobán, I’m sure my siblings will love the ceviche you taught me how to cook.
I wish you all the best and hope I can come visit soon.
As you can see, we have different words to say ‘dear’, one is formal, and the other one isn’t. Also, take into account that te quiero and ‘I love you’ carry two different meanings. In short, te quiero is less serious than ‘I love you’. You can read about this concept and more in our blog about Spanish concepts not found in English! So now you’re ready to go out there and express your gratitude! If you want to learn Spanish, take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy today.Read More
If you grew up (or are still growing up!) in the church, you know that youth group is a big part of the church community. It is a place where teens and pre-teens can come together, find community, have fun, and learn about God in a more relatable way. I personally remember attending several different youth groups because it was a great way to find friends outside of school. One youth group even had their facility open every day after school, and I would go and do homework or just hang out with other kids and the staff. It was a great, friendly environment, and I would always invite my friends, whether or not church was their ‘thing.’ At that age, I didn’t speak Spanish very well, so I couldn’t invite any Spanish-speaking friends to youth group with me! Hopefully, with these helpful vocab lists, you will be prepared to invite your Spanish-speaking friends to youth group in their native language.
We’ll start with some activities and people that you’ll find when you go to youth group:
Pretty straightforward, right? You can use these words to give your friends an idea of what will happen at the event. Now, you can’t predict everything will be said at youth group, but here are some phrases that you can use to invite your friend to youth group and then introduce them to the whole gang!
I hope those phrases help you get up the nerve to ask your Spanish-speaking friends to the next youth group event! Even if they can’t understand everything that happens that night, the most important thing is to make sure they feel welcome! If you have more specific phrases that you want to learn how to say in Spanish, be sure to ask your teacher in your next Spanish class! ¡Diviértete!Read More
A couple of years ago, a friend and I were on a stakeout. We sat in her car for hours on end, eating hotdogs and looking for clues. We found what we were looking for halfway through the second hotdog. A big brown dog was walking in the streets of the neighborhood where we were parked. My friend, Gaby, rescues stray dogs as a hobby. Her house always has at least 5 dogs running around! We were watching the dog because she had signs of having had puppies recently, and we wanted to know where she kept them so we could take the whole family to the shelter instead of just the brown dog. That way, the puppies could be with their mom.
In most Latin American countries stray dogs are a fairly common sight, but not all of them are having a bad time! In some places, there are ‘town dogs’ who have no owner in particular, but people from the town will feed them and give them shelter. In my previous neighborhood, the town dog was named Tocino, which translates to bacon! Pets have always been friends, companions, helpers… some even consider pets part of their family. Today, we’re going to learn about different pets and how to say their names in Spanish, see if you can guess which animal I’m talking about!
Pronounced pair-row, this is one of the first animals humans domesticated, and they’ve been with us for approximately 15,000 years! They come in many shapes and sizes, but the thing they have in common is that they will love you unconditionally. Still haven’t guessed? Let me give you another clue. They are also known as el mejor amigo del hombre, or ‘man’s best friend’. I’m of course talking about dogs! Some people keep dogs on a leash, una correa. To identify them, we give them collares, or collars.
Next, we have hurones, pronounced oo-rohn-ais. These slithery mammals were used for hunting back when we used horses to get around. They are playful, have small, sharp teeth and a long furry body. These are ferrets! They’re known for having qualities of both cats and dogs, but any ferret owner will tell you there’s much more to them than that. Ferrets are furry, or peludos, and have dientes filosos, sharp teeth! If you ever encounter an hurón juguetón, that means that your pet likes to play around a lot.
This one’s a freebie; iguana is pronounced the same in English and Spanish! The only difference is that instead of the ‘i’ sound, you have to say ‘ee’ instead. Iguanas are pets for people who like to sit down and chill out. The hardest part of owning an iguana, I’d say, is having to give them bichos, bugs for lunch; however iguanas eat vegetales too, like carrots and lettuce. Did you know the word ‘reptiles’ is the same in English and Spanish? The pronunciation changes, though. In Spanish, we say rep-tee-lays. With reptiles, it’s always a good idea to research before you buy, because our scaly friends have different diets and care instructions based on the species.
Mischievous, mysterious, and cuddly – these three words can be used to describe this next pet. Unlike perros, these animals domesticated themselves by helping humans get rid of rats and pests in exchange for food. This role was very important thousands of years ago because these pests carry disease that we couldn’t deal with back then. As a result, some cultures came to worship them, and I would argue that we still worship them today on the walls of the internet. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about cats! Cats eat ratas, or rats. They catch them with their sharp garras, unless they get them trimmed at the groomer. One of the cool things about gatos is that they don’t need to be potty trained! They go by themselves on their caja de arena, or litter box.
Pájaros (pah-ha-rows) have been a source of inspiration for many artists and musicians. They can be kind, energetic, uplifting, funny, and sometimes scary. Such a wide range of personalities comes from an even wider range of species to choose from. Their most distinctive characteristic is their ability to sing. Have you guessed? I’m talking about birds! These little friends are very delicate, and another species that requires research before getting one. Birds sleep in their cages, or jaulas. They have colorful plumas on their body and they can cantar beautiful songs.
El loro, pronounced loh-roh, is a specific kind of bird. You can find loros in jokes, movies, and on buccaneer shoulders. These birds are known for being able to imitate us, imitar, and are quite popular in Latinoamérica. Naturally, I’m talking about parrots! Parrots are coloridos, meaning they can sport many colors of the rainbow in their plumas.
Let’s finish with another freebie! Hamsters are also pronounced the same in English and Spanish. The only difference being the ‘ha’ at the beginning is pronounced ‘hah’. Normally, the ‘h’ is silent in Spanish, but since the word hamster was adopted from German, we say it the same in both languages. These little guys are famous for running around, squeaking and eating sunflower seeds, or semillas de girasol. They run around in their ruedas. Don’t forget to put some viruta de madera, bedding, for your hámster to sleep on!
More pet vocabulary to practice
How many pet names did you guess? Pets are as important to us as we are to them. We have created relationships with them that enable us to grow as people through cuddles. How cool is that?! Remember to always love and care for pets and other animals, and don’t forget to practice your Spanish at Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
We have all heard that if you don’t learn a second or third language when you’re young, then it’s too late. I’m here to tell you that’s not true!
The latest research from Brown University has debunked the theory that older people cannot learn new things as easily as younger people. These studies have found that adults can retain information too, they just do it in a different part of the brain.
Everyone has brain plasticity – this is the capacity of the brain to develop and change throughout life. Increased plasticity occurs through learning, new memories, and experiences. Younger people experience plasticity (growth) of white matter in the cortex part of the brain, and older people experience plasticity of white matter in the visual field.
Bottom line: plasticity doesn’t decline with age, it just changes.
Another study by Stanford and York University professors tried to determine the best time for people to learn a foreign language. They studied Spanish and Chinese native-speakers who were learning English as a foreign language and wanted to determine what the cutoff age is for introducing a foreign language. Researchers have debated the cutoff age for decades…is the best time to begin learning a foreign language at age five, six, 12 or 15? The study here used age 15 and 20 as the age by which a language should be introduced, and they evaluated what happened if language was introduced beyond age 20.
The results showed that achieving native-like proficiency does decline with age, but the amount of decrease and the age that the decline begins to occur is up for debate. Further, to predict how well someone will learn a foreign language depends heavily on the number of years of formal education received, socioeconomic status and resources.
Research just doesn’t have a definitive answer yet.
However, there is enough evidence that age is not an excuse to shy away from learning a new language.
Scientists are discovering new things about the brain every day, so these findings are not conclusive by any means. It is simply more information to encourage us to keep learning, regardless of the number of birthday candles on our cake.
Let’s take a look at what to do next:
Unlock Cognitive Benefits
To keep up brain flexibility (plasticity) you will want to keep your mind challenged; this will maintain current brain cells, create new pathways, and stimulate communication in the brain. An active mind helps with memory retention, multitasking, and can even help fight off early cognitive decline.
Some ideas of new things you can do are: take music lessons – vocal or instrumental, design a new garden bed – cut flowers or edibles, teach or take an art class, join a book club, volunteer for a local community project, or learn a new language.
The Key to Learning a New Language is Motivation, Not Age
Youngsters can learn another language only to fall short and never use their skills, thus forgetting what they initially grasped. Sometimes children are forced to speak another language –to communicate with family members, translate for parents, or early pressure from parents to have a competitive advantage — and these kids don’t have the interest to continue using it when they grow up.
If an adult wants to learn another language, then interest will motivate them to put forth the effort and time to speed up the process and absorb as much as they can.
If you are motivated to communicate cross-culturally and speak another language then you can do it!
Adults Learn Vocabulary Faster than Children
Some aspects of language become easier as you mature.
While children can pick up accents and mimic sounds quicker than adults, adults have a better understanding of proper language structure and richer vocabulary, and therefore can retain advanced words faster and easier than kids.
For example, a child might say in Spanish, “fui a la granja/ I went to the farm.” They are communicating that they went to the farm and getting the point across to the listener in direct and child-like simplicity. However, an adult may want to explain more, as adults tend to do, and say “Fui a la granja de lavanda en la península y vi vistas hermosas de las montañas/ I went to a lavender farm on the peninsula, and saw beautiful views of the mountains.”
New words can be traced back to your pre-existing knowledge and understanding of phrases or descriptions, and this helps you retain words quickly!
By Now You Have Learned How To Learn
You no longer rely on others to help you carve out homework time. As you get older, your motivation comes from within and you choose what skills you want to spend your time on. You also know what kind of learner you are and simply what works, and what doesn’t.
This increased self-awareness will help you cut to the chase and learn Spanish! Spanish Academy guarantees that you will be speaking Spanish in your first lesson, ¡vamanos!
Spanish Academy Helps Adult Learners
As discussed above, adults learn best in the visual field part of their brain. Spanish Academy will help you grasp Spanish by targeting this visual learning style. We have a different approach to teaching language than standard textbooks and classrooms – we offer immersion-style classes that use a lot of visuals.
Our blog on immersion discusses how teachers and programs that teach “immersion-style” use a variety of visuals: “this includes gestures, modeling, real-life objects to help illustrate a theme or situation, and lots of pictures or videos. Another is open-ended questions that encourage conversation as opposed to inquiries that only garner a basic “yes” or “no.”
Our one-on-one or two-on-one online classes will give you facetime with your teacher and they can use visual prompts and handouts to help you better grasp the new language material.
Learn a New Skill Today
Try our free class and begin expanding your horizons – and brain plasticity- today!Read More
Social media is one of the most powerful tools we have at our fingertips for language learning. Are you using it in the right way? It turns out that we can continue to enjoy the time spent on our favorite social media sites while we practice our Spanish skills by following some of the top creative and educational Spanish-speaking personalities on the web. No matter where in the world you may be, you can take advantage of the Spanish-immersion experience that these media channels provide with just a few clicks. Here we have compiled a list of the Top 8 Spanish-Speaking People You Should Follow if you would like to improve your language skills, learn more vocabulary, and have fun doing it. ¡Comencemos!
Eight Spanish-Speaking People to Follow
Social Media Resources for Beginners
If you happen to feel intimidated by the list we provided above, don’t worry! We all start somewhere and we’ve got something for you, too. If you consider yourself a beginner Spanish-learner and you would like to know who to follow for grammar tips and quick lessons, check these out:
Would you like to study up on social media vocabulary words in Spanish? Check out our mini-poster here!
Following for Fluency
Boost your language learning powers by adding this list of Spanish speakers and teachers to your social media. By engaging with their material on a daily basis, you are sure to improve your skills. If you would like to practice what you learn with a native Spanish teacher from Guatemala, join a free class from Homeschool Spanish Academy. You’ll be speaking Spanish after the first class, guaranteed!
Going abroad is a wonderful experience. It’s a great opportunity to meet people, explore new settings, and try out exciting food! If you’re reading this blog, I imagine you’re extra adventurous, because driving in a foreign country is a whole new world of freedom. I remember the one and only time I drove a car in a foreign country – I was terrified! We were coming back from doing some gardening with volunteers, and my boss at the time asked if I wanted to drive back. I couldn’t say no to that, so I hopped in the driver’s seat and took that old red car for a spin.
Luckily I had my boss, a local, to guide me through the traffic signs and give me cues on rules that I might not be aware of. This made my drive a lot less scary and a great experience that I remember to this day. If you’re driving alone it’s very important that you research topics like speed limits, driving requirements, driving age, and so on. Here’s a link to a page with useful information on driving requirements for different countries.
Basic vocabulary for driving and GPS navigation
Road signs in Spanish
Just like with local traffic laws, I always recommend that you study the local road signs before you drive anywhere. Below are some examples of traffic signs that change slightly or are nonexistent in the US.
Hopefully, you can figure out what this sign is asking you to do by just looking at it. If you see a red octagon with the word ALTO written in, it means you should definitely stop and look both ways before you carry on.
This is personally one of my least favorite road signs, especially if I’m in a crowded town. If you see an ‘E’ with a red slash across it, that means you can’t park in that area. Some countries will have a ‘P’ instead, so be on the lookout for both, since parquear and estacionar are synonyms for the word parking.
These black arrows on a red circle are there to let you know you absolutely must make a turn in the direction they suggest, or you’ll end up driving against traffic!
Ceda el paso
While the yield sign is the same as in the US, it’s always a nice reminder that these signs mean the same thing, since you might find the Spanish text to be confusing.
Límite de velocidad
Speed limits, or Límites de velocidad, are something to always look out for. Especially since in most if not all of the Spanish speaking countries we use Kilometers instead of miles. It’s important to keep that in mind as you drive!
No hay paso
If you find yourself on the wrong side of the road, this sign will let you know you need to turn around ASAP! No hay paso means ‘wrong way.’
Obra en construcción
Typically, the best way to know there’s a construction site ahead is the annoying traffic it will surely cause. The second best way, and the most reliable, is to look out for obra en construcción signs. These are typically yellow or orange and will tell you how far away the site actually is.
Ready, set, drive!
There are many ways to learn Spanish: traveling, studying, and practicing. Before you set out on the road, maybe you’ll want to learn some Spanish words for traveling to have under your belt, and if you’re unsure of where to go, I suggest you read up on our top 8 destinations for travel. Regardless of where you choose to go, you can still learn Spanish at Homeschool Spanish Academy. Try out a free class today, available anywhere with an internet connection!
Hello Spanish Learners! You are working so hard on mastering Spanish by taking classes, reading our blogs, and watching our YouTube videos – way to go! To be fluent in Spanish, you will need to understand through listening and reading as well as communicate by speaking and writing. You are almost there – keep working hard and expose yourself to Spanish every day! Whether it is through music, a podcast, noticias, telenovelas, speaking a tu mejor amiga or reading a terrific book!
Speaking of books, there are so many wonderful options to begin with! You will be so incredibly proud of yourself when you complete a proper book, cover to cover, en español!
Read below for tips on finding a book in Spanish that suits your needs:
Find a Topic That Interests You
We all have finite time during the day, so you will want to choose a book that appeals to you! Similar to reading in your native language, you will be more likely to start (and finish) a book that you enjoy on a subject/topic that holds your interest.
Choose a Book that is Not Too Long
You want to accomplish the task of finishing your first Spanish book! Begin with one that is a good length and not too overwhelming. Something you can easily fit into your school, sports, and homework schedule.
Find the ‘Just Right’ Book – One That is Challenging but Not Too Difficult
Remember when you read your first book in English around 1st grade? Chances are you picked up a book, flipped to a random page, read a few words and then decided if it was too easy or too difficult. Similar to Spanish, you want to find a good balance that is challenging, but not too easy. Using the Five Finger Rule helps you do just this:
- Choose your book and read a random page
- Hold up a finger for every word you don’t know
- If you have held up 5 fingers before finishing the page then the book is too difficult.
- Likewise, if you have held up only 1 finger, the book is too easy. You want to find the ‘just right’ book which is 2-4 fingers.
Finding your ‘just right’ book will encourage you to continue on with the story, challenge you just enough, and build your confidence!!
Choose Spanish and English ‘Side-by-Side’ Text
Have you ever read a paragraph in Spanish and you’re pretty sure you grasped the meaning, but there was that one word, or phrase, that left you questioning the meaning behind all the words? This happens to the best of us when reading in a new language. One way to self-check yourself is to read the Spanish text, and then verify you are on track with the English translation. Side-by-Side bilingual books are perfect for reading in Spanish and then testing your comprehension by reading the English section.
On a side note: I would recommend these text tools for your first few books, but then move on to books in Spanish only. You don’t want to rely on the translation and inhibit your immersion into the Spanish text.
Consider the Tense
Spanish is a complicated language with many tenses. If you are a beginner, then most likely you are most familiar with present, preterite and imperfect Spanish conjugations. Choose a book with this in mind!
Here are some great books to begin with:
Books with ‘Side-by-Side’ Translation in English and Spanish
- First Spanish Reader: A Beginner’s Dual-Language Book – This book is less than 100 pages with 41 stories. Each story increases in difficulty – beginning with stories in the present tense, and building from there. The book also includes exercises in Spanish.
- Stories from Latin America/Historias de latinamérica – 16 short stories from Central and South American authors. It includes free audio downloads of four chapters from the book! Good for advanced beginners, it provides cultural insights and includes a helpful vocabulary list.
- Spanish Short Stories 1/ Cuentos hispánicos 1 and Spanish Short Stories 2/ Cuentos hispánicos 2 – Short stories from Spanish-speaking authors. Instead of translating word for word, the English translation paraphrases the Spanish portions thus translating ideas. The book is recommended for advanced beginners and beyond.
Beginner Books in Spanish
- Papelucho– The author has published 12 books in the Papelucho series that are described as humorous, interesting and creative. The book speaks about everyday life in the present tense.
- Manolito gafotas/Manolito Four-Eyes – Follow 10-year-old Manolito as he navigates life in Madrid. This is a children’s classic in Spain and other parts of Europe and has inspired films and a TV series.
- Las tres reinas magas – This book is a modern twist on Los Reyes Magos (The three Kings- Spanish Christmas Story). The queens are holding down the castle as the Kings are away at war.
- Muerte en Buenos Aires -Spanish novels for beginners. There are many in the series by this author and they are simple to understand with fun and interesting detective plots.
Get started today
There are so many books out there. Comment below and let us know which one is your favorite! Also, enjoy a free class on us and ¡empieza a mejorar tu español ya!
Teaching Greetings to Preschoolers
Teaching Spanish to very young learners can seem like a challenge at first. Where do you start? How do you engage your child or student? Luckily, there are plenty of activities, games, and songs that we can use to help our little ones achieve Spanish fluency. By starting with a simple theme like greetings, you can introduce new words and pronunciations while you play and have fun! With our quick guide to Teaching Greetings to Preschoolers, you will be teaching and speaking Spanish with your little one in no time. ¡Aprendamos a saludar!
(For a more detailed lesson on Spanish greetings, check this out.)
Greetings are an essential part of language learning. They are necessary for participating in a community and interacting politely with one another. For many of us, greetings were some of our very first words in our native language. Likewise, they are the first thing we learn in a foreign language. Here is a list of the most common and useful Spanish greetings for preschoolers.
It’s great to have a list of new words and phrases, but what to do with them? That’s where the activities come in! By using vocabulary lists in a meaningful and fun way, your child will be much more motivated to learn and retain new information.
Flashcards make an excellent visual tool for teaching new vocabulary. They help your young learner associate the pictures with the words and to understand better the meaning. They can also imitate the movements or ideas present in the pictures. Our colorful Greetings for Preschoolers Flashcards include all of the greetings in this guide. In order to print them as flashcards, click Print and go to Settings. Under Pages Per Sheet, choose 4 and for Scale, choose “Default”. When you print, it will give you four flashcards to each printed sheet that you can cut out and use right away. (Print -> Settings -> Pages Per Sheet: 4 -> Scale: Default) What can you do with flashcards?
- Sequencing: After exploring the meaning of the new words and phrases, you and your child can lay out all the cards on a table or the floor in the sequence that they might occur. Which comes first? Good morning or good night? Hello or good-bye? Allow your child to create sequences on their own to ensure they understand
- GoFish with rods and magnets: This activity requires small magnets and a rod or stick, but it is well worth it! Put a magnet on each flashcard and lay it down on the floor. Make a fishing rod out of a stick and string, tying a magnet to the end of the string. Have your child search for the words and phrases you say while they try to fish them out. This is guaranteed tons of fun!
- Total Physical Response (TPR): Create a specific movement for each of the 12 flashcards and use this every single time you practice it with your child. They will begin to associate the movement with the sounds of the words and the meaning will become even more clear to them through practice and repetition. Read more about TPR and other strategies for teaching Spanish to your child.
Combine motor skills with memory and give your child our exclusive Greetings for Preschoolers Coloring Pages. Each page uses the same vocabulary found in the flashcards that you can use for practicing and studying! Repeat each word and phrase while your little one has fun coloring. You can also focus on a few words a week, have your child color the pages, and then hang them in a place they will see frequently.
Model imaginary play for your child by getting out your Spanish puppet or other toys. Set them up in a conversation and show how they interact using the new words and phrases. Here is an example conversation the puppets could have using the list of greetings:
Puppet 1: Hola, ¿cómo te llamas?
Puppet 2: Hola, me llamo Pedro.
Puppet 1: Mucho gusto, Pedro. Me llamo María.
Puppet 2: ¡Mucho gusto, Maria!
The conversation should start out simple and easy, then you can build in new phrases later. After you show your child how the puppets talk, get them involved! One puppet can talk to your child or you can hand over one of the puppets for your child to use.
Reading books in Spanish is an effective and exciting way to teach your child new words and to reinforce vocabulary that is being learned. Check out our list of Spanish books designed for preschool learners. For books specifically about greetings, try out one of these:
- Hello Night / Hola Noche by Amy Costales
- Buenas Noches, Luna by Margaret Wise Brown
- How Are You? / ¿Cómo estás? By Angela Dominguez
Singing is not only fun, but an extremely powerful tool to help your child memorize new words and phrases. There are plenty of fun and educational songs for kids to choose from in Spanish. While we’re focusing solely on greetings in the guide, you might enjoy these:
Greetings Are Great
We hope that with access to this great guide, you and your child will have lots of fun while practicing Spanish. If you are interested in learning with a native Spanish teacher for free, sign up for an online class with Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
Splash, thud, vroom, zap! What is going on in here!? It sounds like a bunch of superheroes are starting to battle it out at a pool party. Herein lies the wonder of onomatopoeia, or words that imitate a particular sound. Now, read those four words at the beginning one more time. What images do you see when you read them? These words have the ability to evoke an image or sensation in your mind, rendering the communication that much more effective. When we are young, we learn many of these words casually through socializing and watching movies or cartoons. For parents who are teaching Spanish to their preschoolers, be sure to include a rich variety of books and sounds! As a Spanish learner, using onomatopoeia will enhance the creativity of your speech and writing. Your understanding will improve now that you know even more useful vocabulary. What’s more, you can better convey your personality and strengthen the impact of your descriptions of people, things, and their actions. Since onomatopoeia is a word form of a sound, it is a word form of movement. As such, we have three categories of things that move and make noise while doing it: people, animals, and objects. These movements can express themselves as sound effects or they can function as verbs, which is a distinction we will explore below. Let’s check out the most popular and useful Spanish onomatopoeia for you to start using right away. ¡Zas!
Onomatopoeia as Sound Effects
If you are familiar with comic books or cartoons, you are no stranger to the value of sound effects. What would Batman have been without his staple ‘boom!’, ‘whack!’ and ‘pow!’ is a question we will never have to ask. The words we use to portray sound can enliven and enrich the scenes of a storyline and, if used correctly, it will do the same for your conversations! The following sound effects are divided into the three categories mentioned previously: people, animals, and objects. You will notice that some are similar or identical to English and that others can be used by any of the three categories.
Onomatopoeia as Verbs
In our native language, we are very likely to use onomatopoeia verb-forms, especially when we are trying to paint a picture with descriptive words. There is a big difference between “the dog made a mean sound” and “the dog growled.” In the latter example, you can practically hear the dog’s aggression and probably even picture him baring his teeth. Again, the power of onomatopoeia is all about creating images and sensations in the listener’s mind. Keep in mind that all three categories mentioned above – people, animals, and objects – can make use of these verbs. Here is a list of common onomatopoeia verbs that are useful when describing in detail the noise that something makes:
Practice Makes Perfect
By practicing these fun and useful onomatopoeia, you will improve your Spanish and boost the quality of your conversations! Try them out next time you have to write a descriptive essay in Spanish or plan to teach someone some entertaining vocabulary. Would you like someone to practice with? Check out our free online class that guarantees you’ll be speaking Spanish before it ends!