So, you want to learn Spanish. Maybe it’s even one of your New Year’s resolutions that you said you wanted to do but haven’t got around to yet. Nowadays, there are so many different resources we can use to learn Spanish. Applications, though, have a special draw to those of us who want to learn quickly and on the go. Maybe you’re looking to start from scratch, or perhaps you are already in Spanish and just need extra support. Well, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of the best Spanish apps of 2019 to learn Spanish for free! Check out which one will work best for you.
There are four key areas of language learning: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. The most passed over and avoided area is reading, probably because it requires patience and time. However, reading can astronomically improve your language skills because you are subconsciously learning language structure and patterns while also absorbing new vocabulary through context. The only issue is…how can we make it fun and appealing? With Beelinguapp! This is by far the best app to practice your Spanish reading. With the free version, you have access to a variety of reading material. You can choose from different categories, such as travel, kids’ stories, and science. In addition, you can select your level as beginner, intermediate, or advanced. However, I will say that the beginner material is not for true beginners. You will need some basic Spanish knowledge before using this app.
How does it work?
After selecting your language, level, and category, you can choose which item you would like to read. Then, download it and begin reading either on your own or with the narrator. As the narrator speaks, the app highlights the text so that you can both hear the pronunciation and see the written word. Another cool feature of this app is that you can read the Spanish part only, or have the Spanish and English versions open at the same time to compare them. Finally, you can build your own glossary by adding new vocabulary words to your account.
This Spanish app was quite a pleasant surprise. It’s called ‘drops’ because you learn just a couple words at a time. In the free version, you can only study 5 minutes every 10 hours, which is perfect for those of you who are trying to squeeze language-learning into your busy schedules. If you’re looking for something more intensive, or already have some Spanish experience I would not recommend Drops. However, if you are just starting to learn, this is one of the best Spanish apps available.
How does it work?
Drops has great visual effects, with a drawing or animation accompanying each vocabulary word. After each word is introduced, there are exercises and games to help you truly learn the vocabulary. The app tracks your progress by how many words you have learned and then calculates your level accordingly. Additionally, the vocabulary is separated into categories, and the first level of every category is available all at once for your perusal. The categories include everything from science to business, from food to fashion.
In my opinion, Memrise came in as an extremely close second after Duolingo for the title of ‘best app to learn Spanish.’ While the other Spanish apps are limited to their own specific style of learning, Memrise combines them all into one app. Not only can you learn multiple languages at once, but you can learn from multiple platforms. For example, you can learn Spanish from the multiple Memrise Spanish courses, or from different programs that users themselves have created. Some of these other courses even include all the vocabulary from the corresponding Duolingo courses.
How does it work?
This app looks at language learning like growing a plant. When a word is first introduced, it is just a seedling. The more you practice, the more the plant grows until it flourishes into a flower. When the flower wilts, it means it’s time to practice that word. Depending on the course you choose, you can learn both phrases and vocabulary. Instead of a placement test, Memrise offers different levels of Spanish that you can choose from based on your experience. The Memrise courses themselves offer both vocabulary and phrases, while some of the other courses focus on different vocabulary, conversational skills, idioms, etc. In the learning process, you can find a variety of exercises, from watching videos of native speakers to practicing your own pronunciation. The app even includes both direct and literal translations so you can understand the structure of words and phrases.
Of course, you’ve probably heard of Duolingo. It has become so popular lately, and it continues to hold it’s title as one of the best apps to learn languages. What makes this app doubly amazing is that the founder of Duolingo is Guatemalan! Since our teachers are located in Guatemala, the country holds a special place in our hearts (learn more about Guatemala here). However, Duolingo isn’t in the number one best app spot because of any bias. To the contrary, its content speaks for itself.
How does it work?
You can either start at the very beginning or take a placement test to score out of some lessons, which makes this app perfect for all Spanish learners. As you progress through the lessons, you learn both vocabulary and phrases. Additionally, grammar is taught by showing it in sentences instead of a formal grammar lesson. If you would like more explanation, you can hover over the word or words. Like Memrise, you can reach different levels and goals, which encourages the user to keep practicing. To reinforce what you have learned, there are interactive exercises that test all areas of language-learning: pronunciation, writing, listening, and comprehension. Duolingo and Memrise are very similar in the way that they present and practice vocabulary, but Duolingo takes it a step further by giving grammatical explications, user forums, and supplemental learning features.
Get Practicing with the Spanish Apps!
Now that you have all the information, try out some of 2019’s best Spanish apps. Let us know which one you found to be your favorite!
Of course, the best way to utilize these Spanish apps would be to use them as a supplemental course to real Spanish classes. Take a Free Trial Class with us today and see how you can learn Spanish with a live instructor from the comfort of your home.
Raise your hand if you have ever had a crew. Come on now…you know: best friends, partners in crime, a girl gang. The ones whose surprising screams of “Watch out!” save you from becoming sidewalk Silly Putty? Or how about when you are with ‘The Fearless Few’ (the nickname you made for the crew you thought would make you fearless)? For example, when there is real danger and ‘Number One’ of the crew screams “CALL AN AMBULANCE!” because ‘Number Three’ didn’t listen to the previous command and is now actual sidewalk Silly Putty.
Look at it this way. In every dance class we take, every cake we bake, and every piece of advice that my grandmother swears is only advice, but I know she prays I heed, there are commands. We hear them every day: “Pass me that pencil,” “Tell me everything, but don’t tell my mom,” and “For goodness sake, please give me your number!” We hear them from all angles – family, teachers, official people with badges, and yes, of course, our crew.
Have we ever really mastered following commands? I guess that is more of a personal question; but for now, let’s see if we can master recognizing, making, and using common Spanish commands.
Recognizing Spanish Commands:
Before getting into what some common Spanish commands are, we need to prepare ourselves. As Number One of the Fearless Few Crew would say, “I was born ready.” Well, that is nice for them, but for the rest of us that need a little more prep time, here is a snapshot of how to make Spanish commands:
- The Basics: All Spanish verbs end in‘-ar’, ‘-er’ or ‘-ir’
- Hablar ( to talk)
- Comer (to eat)
- Escribir (to write)
- The Big Picture: Every verb gets conjugated based on the person that is using the verb. With Spanish commands, though, each verb gets conjugated differently. In other words, the endings (suffixes) of the verbs change.
- The Nitty Gritty: Of course, we need to actually use the Spanish commands in conversation. Check out our video to see how our teacher, Ruth, helps a student get around by using – yes, you guessed it – Spanish commands.
Great! You have the big idea, but what in the world are you going to do with just a bunch of suffixes? It’s like the ‘Fearless Few’ without Number Two. How are you going to survive the demands of Spanish commands? Well, the good thing is that Number Two of your ‘commanding gang’ has a utility belt full of examples that can help us practice all of these suffixes. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
Making Spanish Commands:
According to Number One, you used the tips from our previous blog post on Mission Trip Spanish You Need to Know to Survive. He says one of the first Spanish commands that you encountered was about doing chores in your host family’s house, which you were happy to do…RIGHT?.
“Practice makes perfect,” as your wildly optimistic Number Two crew member would say. So let’s practice using the suffixes that we just learned and apply them to your eventful mission trip. Don’t worry, we won’t talk about how Dave wet the bed or how Jack got VERY lost in the woods. To be fair, they both should have followed these tips on Spanish commands…
Since we left Number Two in charge of our perfect practice, we should probably get started. Here’s a great resource taken from a “Survival Spanish” online library that is full of PDFs for quick-fire language memorization. But, for now, we will use the ‘Cleaning Requests’ one to keep our practice spotless. (Note that this document uses the formal ‘usted’ form, but for our purposes, we’ll be using mostly the ‘tú’ form. If you want more information on those pronouns, click here.)
Practice #1: For you crew members who are learning the basics
- Verb in Spanish Command form (Ex: for ‘tú’ – Limpia)
- Object (Ex: La cara)
- Result: Limpia la cara (Clean your face.)
- Take turns with a crew member and practice making Spanish commands with the ‘Cleaning Requests’ PDF
- You can also take this quiz that our amigos at 123TeachMe offer for crew members like yourselves:
Practice #2: For crew members wanting to ‘level up’
- Start with ‘No’
- Conjugate the Spanish command verb according to the suffix (Ex: for ‘tú’ – Limpies)
- Follow with the object (Ex: la cara)
- Result- A ‘Negative Spanish Command’ (No limpies la cara. – Don’t clean your face.)
- Take turns with your first second and third crew members and practice with this online quiz ironically from 123TeachMe.com
- Since you are going to need to collectively practice our final point to mastering Spanish commands, find your crew and practice together. That’s an order!
Using Spanish commands:
Now comes the fun part! You would think that Number One of the crew would be using Spanish commands more often, but you have to have the brains. Who do you think found Jack when he got lost on the mission trip? Number 3 of the Fearless Few graces us with their mastery. Therefore, as any and every good master does, they use Cliffsnotes Spanish to assist their ‘Yoda’ style teachings of the so we want to offer them here! Not only that, but the irregulars are better shown than explained. Can you highlight all of Spanish Command verbs in the following conversation among the Fearless Few? YES, yes, yes, we KNOW there are irregulars, but they are part of the initial steps to becoming part of the Fearless Few Crew, and we’ll talk about them in the next initiation blog. For now, let’s keep it simple.
Observe as the Fearless Few tackles, deflects, and welcomes commands:
And that is how The Fearless Third became actual pavement silly putty. Also…did you see the irregular verbs? Stay tuned to see if The Fearless Few can conquer pavement putty AND irregular verbs. For now, check our answer key to see if you could identify all the Spanish commands.
If you are wanting to review, or go into more depth for question’s sake, here is a great resource from “Super Site Structure,’ or you can get some extra ayuda from SpanishDict. Otherwise, have fun recognizing, making, and using common Spanish commands, and please, ask your crew to help you!
Don’t forget to watch our video, which teaches you how to use directions and commands in Spanish!Read More
Yes, it is true! Valentine’s Day and Día del Cariño are the SAME thing, and it’s even on the SAME day in both the English and Spanish-speaking countries. There are lots of similarities: flowers, scary first dates, the card box at school that you pray gets filled to the brim by all of your classmates that you do not even know. Sometimes grandma even gives us that crisp $5 bill in a pity card just in case none of the above happens.he list goes on and on. Traditions and sentiments stay the same; however, the obvious thing that changes is…YUP! You guessed it: the way we say that we care about different people in our lives.
WARNING: this is not just a ‘Twilight Saga Bella and Edward’ turbulent romance post. Cariño and love are for everyone! Yes, the media has it saturated, but it is for our friends, family, crushes, and MAYBE the significant other who may or may not be able to read our minds when it comes to what kind of card we want. No worries, mis amores – our 4 Tips for Día del Cariño have got you covered.
Tip 1: Día del Cariño- Phrases for Friendly Cards
OK! So here we are. Let’s set the scene: classrooms with carpeted floors and boxes with your name on it. Or even more possible, cards may be waiting for you on the kitchen table next to your heart-shaped pancakes. Some examples could be:
Ok, ok, ok. Very punny, but let’s check out some Spanish and ‘Spanishpired’ ones:
So besides the ‘Taco of Love,’ both of our sweet Día del Cariño punny Valentines are focused on the ‘Te’ perspective. Now, in Spanish, we could do ‘Usted’, but we are talking about feelings, the warm fuzzies, and the “I’m so glad you are alive!” sentiments, which are not normally for the ‘Usted’ form. ‘Tú’ is for friends, family, and all your crew members. If you’d like more information about ‘tú,’ ‘usted,’ and other Spanish pronouns, check out our blog!
Simple phrases: So if you have your pen and hand-made card ready, thanks to our friends, here are some great Día del Cariño phrases you could scribble down over all the glitter glue for your amigos y familia:
Great! Now you can copy paste, but if you are wanting to practice, notice the words that are most used:
- Amistad – Friendship
- Alegrias / Gozo – Joy and Happiness
- Regalos – Gifts
- Dulce – Sweet
- Loquita (Loca/Loco) – Crazy
Now, try and take these words and make your own short Día de Cariño phrases for your amigos. You just have to add the verbs! Notice that all of the verbs are in the ‘tú’ conjugation.
- Tú — AR verbs = +aste
- Abrazar- Abrazaste (to hug)
- Tú –ER and -IR verbs = +iste
- Compartir = Compartiste (to share)
- Querer = Quisiste (To Care about and LOTS of other things we will talk about in our next tips)
Tip 2: Día del Cariño- Activities and Vocabulary in the Media
Ok, stage change! Carpet floors in classrooms are swapped for welcome mats and oak front doors with daunting doorbells. Even the kitchen table is swapped for fish and balsamic-something salad that is at least three steps above heart-shaped pancakes. Regardless of who exactly you are with for Día del Cariño, you have to be prepared. Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? What gift are you going to give? Well, if you do what any sensible, stressed person would do, you would google specials events, ideas, and excuses; check these out:
Notice all of the fun things that are in this first advertisement for a community run. Cheers to all of you athletes!
- Amor -Love
- La Amistad – Friendship
- Premios al mejor disfraz – Prizes for the best costume
- Sorpresas y mucho mas – Surprizes and much more
- Entrada gratis – Free entrance
Now, if the first advertisement made you feel more judged and pudgy than loved, this second one if for you! Who doesn’t like going to las peliculas? This movie ad translates to: Valentine’s Day is coming soon and so are the gifts, flowers, and…..Romance Movies! Share your favorite romance scene from a movie and win FREE candies!
What a convenient and lovely time! Let’s See what vocabulary we can pull from this movie add so you can invite that special Spanish-speaking person to the movies (maybe AFTER the community run with your friends).
- Regalos – presents
- Flores – flowers
- Películas de amor – Romance movies
- Compartir – share
Ok, So we have the activities down (High Five!), but now we have to figure out exactly WHO we are taking to these Día del Cariño activities … maybe this final advertisement can help us see who we should or should NOT want to invite or possibly ditch at the last second.
#KeyTip (outside of the 1,000 tips that we share as the crew): In Spanish, because of the masculine and feminine categorizing structure, sometimes when people want to talk about both distinctions, they combine the O and the A with the power of technology and use the @ symbol!
So, who are you with today? This final advertisement will help us see the types of people you could possibly invite to our flawless suggestions.
This advertisement translates to: What is your sentimental situation?
- Solter@ – Single
- De novi@ – With a girlfriend or boyfriend
- Casad@ – Married
- Divorcicad@ – Divorced
- Complicad@ – Complicated
- Con Hambre – Hungry
We hope that this list simplifies your Facebook status and that it is not as complicado as before!
You now have cards, events, and people down for your Día del Cariño plans (double high five!).
But wait! There are just two more tips that IF you accidentally mess up, could possibly alter all of these flawless plans we just made.
Tip 3: Día del Cariño- Te Quiero or Te QUIERO?
So this is the sweetest, most romantic, confusing, and general phrase that we could think of for Día del Cariño: Te Quiero
So… Both digital cards are cute and give you the warm fuzzies, but one is only for friends and family and the other you could possibly say (while blushing like a crazy person) to your next-level crush.
- “Something from your FRIEND who cares about you.”
- “Every day I almost love you more.”
Woah! The confusion and craziness! How to choose what word for when??
Now, which one would we say to our sweet mother making pancakes, and which would we send to Justin Bieber? To each his own cariños!
Final Tip 4: Día de Cariño: Me gusta or me gustas?
So if you think that ‘Te quiero’ is confusing, well good news, Día del Cariño, amiguitos: Our final tip is about: Me Gusta – I like
1 Me gustan esos zapatos. – I like those shoes
2. Me gusta esa persona. – I like that person OR I have a crush on that person OR I almost love that person.
This card translates to: I LIKED you, I LIKE you, and I will keep LIKING you. Have a great day, my love!
Pregunta? What kind of LIKE do you think is going on here? The shoe liking one or that person you have a crush on and kinda love? If you guessed the first, we congratulate you on your shoe collection, but to answer the Spanish language question; the second would be correct!
Our rule of thumb is that when you gustar a tangible object, you are, in the literal translation, saying something is cool. But if you say that you gustar a person…you are going into romance territory, which is GREAT if you are on Día del Cariño, but on the daily you could get yourself into trouble considering that you would be saying that you LIKE someone..like your
Our final tip for ‘Me Gusta’ is to stick to phrases like :
- “Esa persona me cae bien”- There actually is no literal translation in English, but it could mean “I like this person.”
- “Que buena onda esa persona.” – “That person has good vibes.”
- “Esa persona es tan amable.” – “That person is so nice”
- “Que chilero esa persona!” – “That person is so cool!”
Ok, amigos, cariños, and lovers. Take our tips and run with them.
Bonus question: Can you change the above positive commanding sentence into a Spanish command? If not, check out THE FEARLESS FEW. Goodness knows they need these 3 tips too.
Feliz Día del Cariño!Read More
Have you ever wished you could improve your Spanish accent so others could understand you better? Spoken Spanish has 39 elemental sounds, or individual speech sounds produced by vocal organs. You can easily master these through exposure and regular practice. Without forming this habit, however, we are doomed to repeat pronunciation mistakes for the rest of our lives! How can we sharpen our speaking skills, even if we only have five extra minutes a day? The answer lies in the power of Spanish tongue twisters, or trabalenguas.
*To see the tongue twisters, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Why are Spanish Tongue Twisters Useful?
Choosing a Spanish tongue twister that focuses on a particular pronunciation issue will give you the ultimate learning tool. First of all, you can practice it at any moment, anywhere, until you have mastered the sound. Furthermore, Spanish tongue twisters will train the muscles in your mouth to move correctly, creating authentic pronunciation. Once you have learned one sound, you can then move on to harder trabalenguas that combine different sounds. Before long, you’ll be able to speak Spanish without tripping over your tongue!
Quite often, pronunciation problems lie in the physical – where you place your tongue. In American English, for example, we are used to relaxing the tip of our tongue while the center is raised halfway up in the mouth. This creates that typical hard /r/ sound we find in the word ‘red.’ If we attempt to do the same exact movement when pronouncing a Spanish word, such as pero, we quickly hear a striking difference between our pronunciation and that of native speakers. This is because the phonetic usage of /r/ in Spanish is physically different from that of the English language. For correct pronunciation, you must “flick” your tongue against the roof of your mouth, producing a very quick and light sound similar to a soft /d/ in English. With continued practice, you will notice a drastic improvement when you pronounce Spanish words containing the single r.
To practice this tongue movement, try the following Spanish tongue twister:
Tres tristes trapecistas con tres trapos troceados hacen trampas truculentas porque suben al trapecio por trapos y no por cuerdas.
Build Muscle Memory to Improve Pronunciation
Think back to being young and wanting to learn how to ride that shiny new bike in the driveway. When you started out, you fumbled quite a bit and lost your balance. You may have even fallen over and ended up with a scraped knee or two. Likewise, learning how to pronounce words in a new language is a process of learning a new physical skill – without the scraped knees. Instead of simply copying what you hear and attempting to copy the sounds native speakers make, you can take the time to study the actual movement required by the tongue to produce such sounds. Once you isolate a certain sound and begin to practice it, you can look for an appropriate Spanish tongue twister. Search for one that forces you to repeatedly practice the desired sound, especially in conjunction with other sounds.
Some accents may be almost impossible to mimic at first due to weak facial muscles since not every language uses the same muscles to create sounds. However, you can overcome this through extensive practice and awareness of how to strengthen those specific muscles. Thankfully, Spanish tongue twisters are the perfect answer because they provide repeated practice with certain muscles and sounds. Do yourself the biggest favor by creating a daily routine of pronunciation practice. First, identify which sounds are the most difficult for you, then find the corresponding Spanish tongue twisters that work those muscles. In no time, you’ll see how easy and efficient it is using Spanish tongue twisters to enhance your pronunciation!
A Collection of Spanish Tongue Twisters
Here are some of the best Spanish tongue twisters that children giggle over and adults remember fondly from their school days. Many are fun to try and will certainly get you smiling over how hard – and silly – they can be.
For Practice with Vowels:
- Lado, ledo, lido, lodo, ludo, decirlo al revés lo dudo. Ludo, lodo, lido, ledo, lado, ¡Qué trabajo me ha costado!
- ‘A’ – Si Pancha plancha con 4 planchas, ¿con cuántas planchas plancha Pancha?
- ‘E’ – Esteban es escalador escala y escala, Esteban el escalador, de tanto escalar, en una cima quedó.
- ‘I’ – Tengo una gallina pinta pipiripinta gorda pipirigorda pipiripintiva y sorda que tiene tres pollitos pintos pipiripintos gordos pipirigordos pipiripintivos y sordos. Si la gallina no hubiera sido pinta pipiripinta gorda pipirigorda pipiripintiva y sorda Los pollitos no hubieran sido pintos pipiripintos gordos pipirigordos pipiripintivos y sordos.
- ‘O’ – Un dragón tragón tragó carbón y el carbón que tragó el dragón tragón le hizo salir barrigón.
- ‘U’ – Cuando cuentes cuentos, cuenta cuantos cuentos cuentas. Porque si no cuentas cuantos cuentos cuentas, nunca sabrás cuantos cuentos cuentas.
For Practice with ‘b/v:’
- Juan tuvo un tubo, y el tubo que tuvo se le rompió, y para recuperar el tubo que tuvo, tuvo que comprar un tubo, igual al tubo que tuvo.
- Nadie silba como Silvia, porque si alguien silba como Silvia, es porque Silvia le enseñó a silbar.
- Un ave pensaba mientras que volaba, que sentía el pez mientras que nadaba. Y pensaba un pez mientras que nadaba, que sentía el ave mientras que volaba.
For Practice with ‘c/ch:’
- La casa de Casique muy casicada es y si Casique no limpia la casa de Casique yo no la veré.
- Yo compré poca carne, poca carne yo compré, como la carnicería carne tenía al carnicero poca carne le compré.
- María Chucena techaba su choza y un techador que por allí pasaba le dijo: María Chucena, ¿techas tu choza o techas la ajena? Ni techo mi choza ni techo la ajena, que techo la choza de María Chucena.
For Practice with ‘p:’
- Pepe Pecas pica papas con un pico, con un pico pica papas Pepe Pecas.
- Compré pocas copas, pocas copas compré, como compré pocas copas, pocas copas pagué.
- Pedro Pablo Pérez Pereira pobre pintor portugués, pinta pinturas por poca plata para pasar por París.
For Practice with ‘q:’
- ¿Cómo quieres que te quiera si quien quiero que me quiera no me quiere como quiero que me quiera?
- Yo no quiero que tú me quiera porque yo te quiera a ti, quieréndome o sin quererme, yo te quiero porque sí.
- Quique Queco Quicas quiere quintales de queso para quesadillas quebradizas, así que quintales de queso para quesadillas quebradizas quiere Quique Queco Quicas.
For Practice with ‘r/rr:’
- Tres tristes tigres comen en tres tristes platos de trigo.
- El perro de Rita me irrita dile a Rita que cambie el perro por una perrita.
- Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril, rápido corren los carros cargados de azúcar al ferrocarril.
For Practice with ‘s:’
- La sucesión sucesiva de sucesos sucede sucesivamente con la sucesión del tiempo.
- Si Sansón no sazona su salsa con sal, le sale sosa; le sale sosa su salsa a Sansón, si la sazona sin sal.
- La sucia Susana ensucia suficientemente el suéter de Sonia.
For Practice with ‘z:’
- Tengo un durazno muy desduraznador, el que me lo desdurazne, será un gran desduraznador.
- Un zapatero zambo, zapateaba zapateados de zapata, de zapata zapateaba zapateados un zapatero zambo.
- Baza, come calabaza. Baza, calza zapatas y come calabazas.
Advanced Spanish Tongue Twisters:
- Doña Panchívida se cortó un dévido con el cuchívido del zapatévido. Y su marívido se puso brávido porque el cuchívido estaba afilávido.
- El volcán de Parangaricutirimicuaro lo quieren desemparanguatizar y el que lo desemparangaritutimice, un buen desemparanguatizador será.
- El otorrinolaringólogo de parangaricutirimicuaro, se quiere desotorrinolaringaparangaricutirimicuarizar, el desotorrinolaringaparangaricutimicuador que logre desotorrinolaringaparangaricutimicuarizarlo, buen desotorrinolaringaparangaricutimicuador será.
How to Use Spanish Tongue Twisters
- To make the most of your experience with Spanish tongue twisters, try writing them down while memorizing them. Although native Spanish speakers likely learn these silly sayings verbally, it may be harder for you without writing them down. When learning any other language, it’s beneficial to practice both spelling and pronunciation. Not only is it important to train your tongue to pronounce words correctly, but it is good to know how to spell what you are saying.
- Do not waste your time trying to understand every word in a tongue twister! The words will often be from particular regions of the Spanish-speaking world and will not have a meaning outside of that area! They were also meant to be fun to say, not to have a deep meaning. Remember when you were a kid learning tongue twisters in your native language? You were not concerned about the meaning of what you learned, but instead tried saying it faster and faster! Keep this in mind as you expand your volume of memorized Spanish tongue twisters. What’s most important here is using it to enhance the quality of your pronunciation.
- If you are learning Spanish with a friend or classmate, turn the tongue twisters into a game. You can play telephone, where you say a tongue twister as fast as possible and your friend repeats what they heard. Similarly, you can also try playing Pictionary with Spanish tongue twisters both you and your friend know. One person draws the basic idea from a tongue twister with the other tries to guess it.
Most importantly, have fun! Learning a language can be hard, so don’t forget to take a step back and enjoy the process. ¡Disfrútalo!
Do you need help pronouncing these Spanish tongue twisters?
Check out our video to see our very own teachers pronounce some of the tongue twisters mentioned above! Comment with your favorite one.Read More
Spanish dances have withstood the hands of time, remaining surprisingly consistent and fixed in their unique choreography. Despite centuries of external pressure from evolving migrant caravans, zealous political figures, and major changes in Spanish society itself, the tradition of dancing persists. Spain is only about twice the size of Oregon, but it packs quite a punch of cultural delight and beauty within its relatively small borders. This vibrant country keeps its culture alive by embracing the glory, history, and living story of Spanish dance.
History of Spanish Dances
Spanish dances reflect the tumultuous history of Spain itself. Even before the 15th century, regional dances and music were an integral part of life and culture for the people of Spain. Although many of these dances have ritualistic and war-related origins, the Spaniards’ creative spark transformed Spanish dance. They pushed it into a new realm of free-flowing movements that developed into the dances we see today. By the 20th century, Francisco Franco’s dictatorship threatened the traditional dances of Spain. His desire to streamline the culture led to the ban of regional dances and their music for 35 years. After his death, the people of Spain filled the air with traditional music and danced with every ounce of pride they felt for the creativity, movement, and sound that had once defined their region.
Types of Spanish Dance
At one point, there were over 200 traditional and distinct Spanish dances. Although there are not as many today, we can still see the reflection of those dances in modern interpretations. The current well-known Spanish dances are combinations of those older choreographies that embody the spirit of the country and its people.
The Jota is a typical dance from northern Spain, which most likely originated in Aragón. It has spread to many different regions in the country where distinct groups have put their own touches on the dance. It features a quick-paced tempo as couples dance with their hands raised above their heads. They sometimes play castanets, which are percussion instruments made of two ivory or hardwood shells joined on one side by a cord and held within the palms of the hand. Other times they simply move their hands as if they had castanets.
Music: Guitars, bandurrias, lutes, dulzaina, and drums accompany the Castilian style of the Jota. The Galicians, though, use bagpipes, drums, and bombos, a type of bass drum.
Costumes: Interpreters of the Jota dress in regional costumes that reflect the history of their particular people group.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWsr5CWK94o
In what’s considered the “national dance” of Catalonia, multiple couples dance in circles using short, bouncy steps to move back and forth. While they start small, the circles grow bigger as more dancers participate, which acts as an artistic expression of unity.
Music: To perform the Sardana, the dancers need an 11-member band called a cobla. Various brass and woodwind instruments comprise the cobla, with the flaviol (similar to the flute) leading the group. The tambourine and bass help keep the beat for the dancers.
Costumes: Interestingly, this dance has no official dress. Because it is used to express unity, the dancers should wear their everyday clothes so they can communicate their desire for harmony between individuals from various walks of life.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhK0BIZoyac
Both pairs and individuals dance along to the music of the gaita, a form of bagpipe. This traditional and playful dance is typical throughout Galego, Spain. Also known as Galicia, this place is an autonomous Celtic community recognized by the government of Spain. The title of the dance means “millstone” and “miller’s wife” in the community’s regional language of Galician. The measured movements are equivalent to those of a jig or lively folk music in compound meter.
Music: Bagpipes and castanets weave together in a fast-paced, lively tempo that energizes the dancers. This prompts loads of jumping, kicking, and improvising in a cheerful, spirited expression of this Celtic art.
Costumes: The woman wears a special kind of apron, or matelo, along with a vest (chaleco), silk scarf (peno), shirt (camisa), and skirt (falda). The man wears a jacket (chaqueta) and trousers (pantalón). He accessorizes his look with a hat, or monteira, and a silk scarf called a pana de namorar.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8HUf750byQ
The zambra is a passionate and sensual “barefoot Flamenco” style dance, known for having different influences. It began as a Moorish dance then morphed into a traditional dance for gypsy weddings. The Spaniards have kept it alive by adapting it to the Spanish dance customs of Flamenco. However, it is highly distinct from contemporary Flamenco. In zambra, the dancer does not wear shoes and the music accompaniment normally features a woman’s voice in deep song.
Music: The cante jondo, also known as deep song or Gypsy song, guides the zambra dance with its unique sound. One prominent note provides the foundation for the melody, which is then led by the guitar. Foreign influences have greatly influenced this style of song over the years. It now frequently utilizes the flamenco guitar coupled with Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms. This gives the cante jondo a fuller sound with beautiful highs and a tight low end.
Costumes: The costume used for Zambra includes a full skirt with ruffled edges and several underskirt layers that can be wielded as a cape. The look is completed with a blouse tied under the bust baring the midriff and a wide hip scarf with or without coins.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wZiNT-82I0
The bolero is one of the oldest and most traditional of the Spanish dances. In contrast to many others, the bolero was primarily a dance for a solo female performer whose hand and arm would move in sync to the accompaniment of castanets. The dance consists of sharp turns and revolutions of the body, with short quick rushes of two or three steps, going to one side, then to the other. The beating steps (called battements) are set in time to the music. When there is a sudden pause in the tune, the dancer stops rigidly in a picturesque pose, bending her body slightly backward, her hands on her hips, and her head erect and defiant.
Music: A slow Rumba-style music provides the beat for the bolero. However, many contemporary dancers use any song that has a very slow beginning, a faster-paced middle, and a slow end to it.
Costume: As a dance, bolero has evolved tremendously over the last two centuries and has tweaked its style along with the various costumes that show off its purpose. Some more traditional female dancers still use large, wide skirts with a frilled bottom and a long-sleeved shirt. Other dancers, though, wear a sleek, tight dress with slits on either side of a long skirt to highlight the various movements of their legs.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jpRaua4srM
There is some controversy about the origins of this dance, but it seems likely that it was born in Andalusia, Spain. Although it started as a folk dance, it was later copied and modified in other parts of the world. At one point the fandango was the most famous dance of Spain, where dancers usually “compete” to expand upon one another’s movements. Some movements include snapping their fingers or using castanets. The rhythm signaled by these maneuvers escalates throughout the song, making it a lively, happy Spanish dance.
Music: The Spanish both dance and sing the Fandango. Regardless, foot-stomping, hand-clapping (or palmas), castanets, and a clean, crisp guitar sound usually accompany the Fandango.
Costumes: Like many Spanish dances, the Fandango dancers use a particular costume. The woman’s dress is detailed with black lace, which contrasts the bright color of her short dress. Likewise, the man’s embellished vest reflects the details sewn into the woman’s dress.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFOcR-8M45s
The Paso doble has a rich history with Spanish and French roots, danced as an embodiment of the Spanish bullfight. This quick one-step dance is a performance of great pride, arrogance and strength displayed by the man, who represents the torero, or bullfighter, while the woman dances around him with graceful curves as she morphs into the bullfighter’s cape that taunts the bull.
Music: This dance requires a fast-paced beat as it allows the torero to showcase his strength and prowess in movement. A good example is the traditional music faena, which is played during a bullfighter’s entrance into the ring – the paseo – or during the dramatic moments just before the torero kills the bull. One song in particular, the “Spanish Gypsy Dance,” has become the universal anthem of the Paso Doble.
Costumes: The costume is central to this dance, as it represents the full story of the bullfight in action. The man often wears a traditional bullfighter’s costume while the woman, acting as the cape, wears a long circular skirt whose sensual fluid movement enhances the drama of the dance.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ONCE5aGfaQ
A soulful, passionate dance that originated with the Roma (gypsies) in Andalusia, Spain, flamenco has become internationally known for its emotionally riveting dance moves, hard foot stamping in rhythm with the guitar, and intense outpour of palpable sentiments. Finger snapping, hand clapping, and shouting accompany the song and dance.
Music: The core of flamenco lies with the music since the canto, or song, sets the tone of the entire dance. There are three forms of song in flamenco: profoundly tragic and deep, moderately serious, or light in themes of love and nature.
Costumes: Women wear colorful dresses with multi-layered sleeves and skirts – batas de cola – to add dramatic flair to their movements. Although the women’s costumes are much more elaborate than the men’s, the gentlemen also wear impressive costumes. Their attire mimics the style of the traditional matador’s costume that was worn during bullfights.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLnEjHuMFsA
It Takes Two
Spanish dances have a clear and present impact on dance all over the world. It continues to evolve and grow into new forms of artistic expression for those who choose to dance and embody them. The dancer and the dance develop a special bond, which is one of the most sacred expressions in the human experience. One dance in particular, Flamenco, has proved to be of such value to Spanish culture itself. In terms of defining and characterizing it, that UNESCO has named it an “Item of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. Learning any of the aforementioned Spanish dances is an exceptional way to open your horizons. These dances open the door to learning more Spanish and provide the perfect excuse to travel to Spain!
For the Love of Latin Dance
Are you looking to learn more about dance in Latin countries? Look no further! We visited a Guatemalan latin dance instructor named Martin to give us the best tips on how to cha-cha-cha and more. Check it out here!
In this video, you’ll see how to shake your chest and hips in dances like the Bachata – native to the Dominican Republic – the Merengue, and the Cha-cha-cha. You’ll even learn some salsa steps from Puerto Rico. You don’t want to miss it!Read More
A tasty homemade snack, dessert or even a full meal can make a great addition to any Spanish lesson and a wonderful way to look at culture. Here are some Spanish foods to learn about and taste the next time you want to do some extended learning.
Spanish Deviled Eggs
Eggs are a huge part of Spanish cuisine as well as an important element in the Latin diet. The Spanish have several egg dishes that they enjoy throughout the day and chilled, spiced Deviled Eggs are a good option for a hot afternoon.
This Andalusian version of eggs is full of chorizo, pimento and olives, all of which are known Spanish foods used in a variety of dishes. If you have picky eaters in your home, you can adjust the recipe to leave out some of the extra ingredients. Encourage everyone to try a bite of the original as these are a true taste of Spain.
Ham and Cheese Empanadas
Ham and cheese empanadas are great because it’s essentially a warm, crunchy sandwich that helps introduce your family to empanadas. Empanadas are little half-moon shaped pastries filled with anything from seasoned ground beef to sweet summer strawberries.
Empanadas are more than tasty, they’re also a piece of history. Recipes of these delicious pastries can be found in cookbooks as far back as the 1500s. Today, many people still love them and your family will adore this version.
This recipe is sure to be a new favorite. Cream cheese is seasoned and paired with slices of ham to make a warm, salty snack perfect for any lunch or party. Have them as a post-Spanish class snack or to munch on while you plan your trip to Catalan, Spain.
Kids Watermelon Sangria
A cool, tall glass of sweet, pink sangria is hard to top on a hot summer day. Grab some watermelons, mint, and blackberries.
Traditional sangria mixes sugar and fruit and dates back to ancient Rome. When the Spanish wine industry took off, Sangria was created and is still popular all over the country. Luckily, many non-alcoholic versions have gained the same standing as the original and now everyone can have a glass.
Make this version with the kids when the weather starts to warm up. Be sure to name the ingredients in Spanish when you make it – there’s nothing like a lesson you can taste!
Pink Banana Agua Fresca
More popular in Mexico than Spain, agua frescas are definitely worth a try because they’re so refreshing and delicious. The drink is somewhere between a pressed juice and a smoothie. They’re lightly sweetened and served ice cold to take the edge off of a hot day.
This one uses a bit of milk to smooth out the taste of banana and then calls for dashes of grenadine to give it a pink color. Don’t be afraid to water this drink down a little to keep the texture light – agua frescas should never be too intense.
The recipe is quick and easy. Younger chefs can be in charge of the grenadine while older helpers can chop up the bananas and measure out the milk. Make plenty – this one is likely to be a favorite.
Authentic Spanish Flan
No Spanish dinner is complete without a few wiggly bites of flan. This gelatinous dessert is golden yellow with caramelized sugar on top and all around on your dessert plate.
Made of only five ingredients, flan comes together fast and tastes delicious. It’s creamy, sweet and easy on the pallet so even your most picky eater will want to try it.
Remember to incorporate a bit of the Spanish foods history behind whichever dish you choose and be sure to use as much Spanish vocabulary as possible to get the full effect of the lesson.
If you tried one of these Spanish foods or any other fun, authentic dishes, please share in the comments for others’ to enjoy!
Looking to learn or better your Spanish language skills? Click here to try a free trial class.Read More
Playing games can be a way for students to practice Spanish in a fun, relaxed environment. Some recess favorites from the US and Canada have Spanish Adaptations equals you can use for extra vocabulary practice whenever your learner needs time outside.
1. Red Light, Green Light becomes 1, 2, 3 – ¡Momia Es!
This game works the same way in Spanish as it does in English with the bonus of freezing in your favorite mummy pose. One child controls the game by standing with their back to the group of momias. He or she counts Uno…dos…tres and the players try to move forward before the counter spins around. Anyone caught moving, the lead player calls them out by name and says, “¡Momia Es!” to get that person out or make them the caller.
This is a fun game for all ages and ability levels as it doesn’t require a lot of vocabulary to play. You can add extra Spanish phrases like “I see you!” or “You moved!” to make it interesting. Also, try counting higher or switch to a different creature to act out.
2. Ring Around the Rosey becomes Pares y Nones
A game for young learners, this one only requires learning a short song and walking around in a circle. Unlike the English version, this game doesn’t ask players to fall on the ground. Instead, they pause and grab one or more partners when the leader gives the command.
For example, when the break comes in the song, the leader calls out “Tres amigos!” Everyone in the circle has to end up in a group of three and either hold hands or give each other a big bear hug. Anyone who doesn’t get a group can try again in the next round or stand in the center for the next round.
To hear the song and see the game in action, check out this video.
3. Rock, Paper, Scissors becomes Piedra, Papel, Tijeras
You can’t go wrong with this game. Of all the Spanish adaptations, this one is bound to be a family favorite. It helps break ties, decide who goes first and can help pass the time during long car rides or while you wait in line. The Spanish version is a direct translation of the English game.
Start with a fist that jumps up and down on your other hand’s palm while you chant “Piedra, papel, tijera!” After the last word, show which one you picked. Remember, a fist is rock/piedra, a flat hand is paper/papel and two open fingers are your scissors/tijeras.
Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors and scissors beat paper. Play a few rounds to determine the best out of three or five.
4. Hot or Cold Becomes Frio o Caliente
A fun guessing game, Frio o Caliente is a chance for your child to hide something and enjoy watching a friend or Mom and Dad try to find it. The hider lets the seekers know how close they are through temperature. Hot is close, cold is far away.
You need some key phrases for this game.
“¡Te quemas!” You’re burning hot or right next to it
“¡Caliente!” Hot or close
“Tibio, tibio” Lukewarm or headed in the right direction
“Frio” Cold or moving the wrong way
“¡Te estás congelando!” You are freezing cold or going the wrong way
Keep guessing and moving until the hidden object is found, then switch leaders. While younger learners love this game, it can be adapted to older learners who need to practice directions. They can tell you which way to turn, go forward, go backward, stop. More advanced speakers can give verbal clues or riddles to help the seekers find the hidden object.
Have more kid-worthy games with Spanish adaptations? Share them with the HSA community in the comments below!
Ready to sign up for your free Spanish class? Contact us today and start learning right away.Read More
Young readers love to hear a great story over and over! This makes for a great opportunity to incorporate Spanish into story time at home. These bestselling storybooks are recommended to Spanish students by kids and parents alike.
1. La Catrina: Emotions/Emociones by Patty Rodriguez (Best for Ages 0-3)
Written for little readers, this sotrybook teaches words for different feelings with the help of a friendly catrina, or dolled up skeleton, from Mexico. Don’t worry, the skeleton has a warm, sweet face painted with traditional makeup to ensure she’s not scary.
As a result, many reviews of this book highlight that kids want to read it on repeat and how much fun they have practicing new Spanish words by reenacting the emotions of the main character. This book is from the Lil Libros series. Other books include true stories about traveler Cantinflas and artist Frida Kahlo.
2. Donde Viven Los Monstruos by Maurice Sendak (Best for Ages 4-8)
Maurice Sendak’s classic storybook Where the Wild Things Are has been translated into numerous languages, so help your kids get to know the Spanish version. This is a great story to read as a family. Grown-ups will revel in the chance to hear an old favorite while kids will empathize with the main character’s struggle.
3. Dragones y Tacos by Adam Rubin (Best for Ages 4-8)
Did you know dragons love tacos of all kinds? Rubin’s book walks you through a dragon’s taco addiction with the help of gorgeous illustrations from artist Daniel Samieri. Kids love to see the big, silly dragons who are afraid of spicy food and yet live for crunchy chicken or barbecue tacos.
Similarly, this story is another translation and many reviewers mention reading both the Spanish and English version to see the variations in the text. Try it with your readers to help them better understand how Spanish grammar differs from English.
4. Cali Y Mona by Pepe Valle (Best for Ages 3-8)
Author Valle read a touching story in his local newspaper about a little blind girl who had a small pony for a guide. He was so moved that he wrote Cali Y Mona, telling their story for Spanish speaking children and for visually impaired readers.
This book includes braille print alongside the Spanish text. Stunning illustrations are printed in bas-relief from the page, inviting readers to feel them as they listen to this tale of loyalty and friendship. Don’t miss this beautiful story written by an author who lives to tell stories that celebrate Latino culture.
5. Chimoc en Machu Pichu by Andrea and Claudia Paz (Best for Ages 6-9)
Written to be silly and educational, this is the story of Chimoc and his animal friends who travel to Peru to save a forest. The story uses real places to engage readers and helps them practice new words while they learn about the importance of the environment.
Even more, this book comes with a bonus CD full of songs that inspire listeners to sing along and dance. Try this one for anyone who needs to read or simply jump up and get your wiggles out.
6. Friends from the Other Side by Gloria E. Anzaldua (Best for Ages 8 and up)
This book offers a realistic look at the struggles of living on the Mexican/American border. The book focuses on the people and the kindness in everyone from border patrol agents to traditional healers as paths cross and needs clash. A great read at any age, this book is a great one to read as a family .
Written in both English and Spanish, this book is one your family will want to read over and over. This is a great story for students looking to better understand how immigration affects families in the US and Mexico.
Have any favorite Spanish storybooks you and your kids love to read together? Share it with us in the comments below.
Looking for a great Spanish program designed for all ages and levels? Sign up for a FREE class trial today!Read More