The food: chuchitos, caldos, pupusas, every kind of taco, and a rainbow of colorful tortillas. ¡Qué rico!
The scenery: mountains, beaches, and famous ruins with mangrove rivers leading jungle. Beautiful.
The wildlife: viscous jaguars and scorpions, sweet llamas, and flying squirrels. Alive.
We. Love. Latin America.
So, obviously we want you to come and visit us, but not only that. Let’s plan a summer-long trip. Can you imagine? Sounds great, right? Well, summer is only 5 months away so you have PLENTY of time to pack, update your passport, and book all your hotels. But what about your Spanish?
5 months. Just give us 5 months, and we swear we can get you on the right track right for your trip to Latin America! In fact, you should probably jump over to our latest blog Spanish for Dummies which is a quick guide to get all of your basics and FUNdementals down.
How do you learn ‘Travel Spanish’ in 5 months?
That was the initial pitch. Now comes the ‘How.’ To help you out, we did some investigation. The first was with students from a local English class and we asked them, ‘What advice would you give to travelers who want to learn Spanish in 5 months?’
Oh, the enthusiasm in the ADULT classroom! We had never seen so much enthusiasm even when we brought doughnuts that one time… In the midst of all of the shouts, consejos, and ideas, the most agreed upon methods were:
- Learn key phrases and statements
- Tandem conversation partner
- Practice every day on an application
- Book classes at academies in each country that you visit
Learn key Questions: 6 Q’s
The best thing about travel is that you will most likely be making requests or basic commentary to the native Spanish speakers around you. All of the memory-making is thankfully going to be done with you and your traveling compadres. We trust that you have done the easiest things and booked all of your travel, hotel, and activities before your arrival. However, some of these phrases could possibly help in those areas too.
Learn key Statements: Compliments, Abilities, and Wants
So now that we have all of the questions out of the way, let’s add a little bit of personality to our Spanish for Travelers! Show them what you can do and what you like so you can try to participate in the culture!
Tandem conversation partners:
Woah! All of that Travel Spanish is going to be so useful for you to participate in the culture, advocate for yourself, and travel with such ease. But, what are you going to do when people respond?! Woah! There are so many different kinds of answers for these questions and any other comments that you make. Because of that, we recommend tandem conversation. Bring this list of questions and statements to a native speaker in your own community and pretend you are in the jungle or some other exotic place. You will FOR SURE learn multiple kinds of responses. Check out your local libraries or after school/university programs as well.
If you cannot find a native speaker to help you.
If you cannot find a native speaker to help you through your imaginary jungle – either concrete or full of cobras – we suggest you find recommended online sites like Homeschool Spanish Academy.
Yes, even us at HSA! After all, we are a Spanish academy based in Central America, and all of our teachers are native speakers. Because of this, our classes offer the most most life-like learning experience possible that would help you in your travels! When you get to Guatemala, you could actually say that you have friends here who you have talked to already. Check out our sign-up page to start the tandem conversing NOW!
Practice every day on an application
Tandem conversation, memorizing phrases, and asking questions will really get you far in your Travelers Spanish, but what about vocab and the BASICS? Well, in the midst of our ‘sample advice group,’ there was a HUGE agreement that using applications every day for at least 20 min will help build vocabulary and all of the basics that tandem conversation will not blatantly give you. There was even one native Spanish-speaking student who was learning English AND French on his applications. Because of his experience, he was able to provide great insight. Our top 3 suggestions are:
- Named the best app to learn Spanish by HSA, Duolingo is an interactive way to learn Spanish. Yes, there are tests and quizzes, but there are fun listening, speaking, and visual activities for every learner.
- This is a great application. Not only is it an instant phrasebook full of useful and instantly translated phrases for the country where you are going, but it is also a reliable electronic translator for those SAVE ME IN THE JUNGLE moments.
- Top 4 free Spanish apps of 2019
- Check out our own list of application suggestions! “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.”
As we talked with our ‘sample group’ of very enthusiastic English students, the final advice that they wanted to give everyone learning Travel Spanish was to keep studying even when you get to your destination. Don’t let all of the awe and wonder of your travels sidetrack you! Also, if you have a question, just ask your teacher. There are so many Spanish academies for travelers all around Latin America. Take Maximo Nivel, for example. You can take classes, have your native teacher show you the culture, and even stay at a local’s home so you can get a true Spanish immersion. How do babies learn a language? By participating to the fullest and eating as many black beans as possible! Why don’t you try it their way?
Alright, travelers! It’s time to get going!
Summer is just around the corner and these next 5 months should give you plenty of time to learn Travel Spanish! As your faithful ‘tips and trip’ advisers in the world of Spanish learning, we are always here to support you. So much so that we are even offering a free trial class with us! We want to help evaluate what your travel Spanish learning needs are and even help to give you a starting point as you work towards your 5-month travel fluency. Click here to sign up for a free class!
We talk to people every day – on the street, in the store, at home – and rarely think about how amazing it is that we can actually communicate with them. We constantly take for granted our ability to converse with those around us.
Now, 58.9 million of our neighbors here in the States are Spanish-speakers. Imagine that for a moment. There is an impressive language barrier between us and almost 20% of the population. How can we bridge that gap and begin to communicate more fully with our neighbors? Well, we can start by perfecting our Spanish-learning process.
Why the Traditional Methods of Learning Spanish are Flawed
Let’s think about how most of us have tried to learn Spanish…
- Workbooks with reading and writing exercises
- Large classroom settings
- Non-native Spanish speaking instructors
- Software (free or paid) with audio recordings
- Classes only 1 or 2 times per week
Did one of these methods work for you? More than likely, they did not because these techniques utilize the wrong parts of the brain.
Flaws in the Traditional Methods
Remember the list we made of the different ways we normally try to learn Spanish? Those are what we are going to call ‘traditional learning methods.’ Let’s explore further to see where exactly they went wrong.
If you’re like me and went to public school, the norm was that you took about a year of foreign language in middle school before it became a requirement in high school. Since I studied in Texas, Spanish was the most logical choice of a second language. However, it wasn’t like I had much of a choice since German and French were my only other options. So, I began to study Spanish only because of its practicality. Now, on a personal level, Spanish was my least favorite class. I was a pretty good student overall, but matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do better than a B- (yes, I know – I was an overachiever).
At some point, I owned the fact that I wasn’t good at learning languages and just gave up. I stopped trying, which was quite contrary to my personality.
Looking back, I can point to several things that probably held me back.
Common Learning Errors
- Large Classes: I was in a 5A district, studying at a high school of 5000+ students. My graduating class was about 1000 students. In other words, the classrooms were consistently filled to capacity.
- Limited Attention: Due to the high student count, how much attention could one teacher realistically give to any one student? How does anyone stay focused when they’re just another face in the crowd?
- Limited Practice: Our classes, if I remember correctly, were approximately 50 minutes. They later shifted to an hour and twenty minutes in high school. Within those 80 minutes, I experienced about 10 minutes of actual application time. However, we weren’t speaking with actual native speakers. Instead, we stammered broken phrases to other non-Spanish speakers for a couple of minutes until we got distracted by a more interesting topic.
- Workbooks: Given the limited class practice time, most of the actual Spanish work was assigned as homework. This meant that we mainly learned about the reading and writing rules of the Spanish language in class, and perfected them (or at least attempted to) outside of class. I would actually argue that my reading and writing got pretty decent, but I couldn’t speak the language if my life depended on it.
In hindsight, it’s clear that my Spanish journey was flawed since day one. I was learning how to read and write in Spanish, but I barely flexed my auditory & speaking muscles. The lessons, activities, and practice works were constantly reinforcing reading and writing in Spanish, nothing else.
Now let me be clear. I’m definitely not saying that software and textbooks that focus on those learning areas are insignificant. I truly believe they can be helpful. However, I’m simply saying that they are only one part of a much bigger picture. We need various tools to activate the key areas of the brain that will help us effectively learn Spanish fast.
Before we can begin to learn Spanish fast, we must have a better understanding of how the brain functions when learning a language.
How the Brain Works
The brain is a very complex organ in the human body. It controls everything we do. Whether that’s reading, writing, or speaking, the brain has to be trained, over time, to know how to complete those tasks.
Although the brain is much more complex than what we can delve into here today, it is clear from looking at this diagram that different language functions are primarily controlled by distinct areas of the brain.
What this shows us is that when we try to learn a language with just reading or writing exercises, it isn’t very effective because we aren’t exercising the part of the brain that controls speech. We are learning only half of what we need to become fluent in Spanish.
In other words, as a learning audience, we have been studying and learning Spanish incorrectly.
In a nutshell, our brain accomplishes any task by firing or sending electrical signals to different regions of the brain. These signals then travel through the body to the muscles that you want to use. Let’s say, for example, you want to say something. Your brain would first send out signals to different parts of the brain to recall the words and sentence structure you need. Then, it would signal your muscles to move correctly and get your vocal cords to produce the correct sound. All at the same time. Whoa! That’s a lot of tasks! No wonder it’s a hard thing to learn, huh?
Becoming More Efficient
These electrical signals we just talked about travel along something called ‘axons.’ However, the further the signals have to travel, the more energy they lose. Luckily, our axons are wrapped in a fatty substance called myelin, which helps maintain energy. You can think of axons like the coaxial cables of the brain.
When we’re younger, this myelin fatty substance is quite thin. The more we ‘practice’ specific tasks, though, the more resources your body dedicates to that axon and thickening the myelin. This, in turn, produces a very well insulated pathway for that particular electrical signal. In this TED video that explores the idea further, they refer to it as something “similar to an information superhighway.”
Logically speaking, as a signal becomes fast and more efficient, the result should appear quicker and better, right?
Targeting the Correct Objective
The answer is yes. But to make that signal faster, we need to practice the right tasks. If we want to create efficient pathways in our brain for speaking Spanish but never say a word, those pathways will never develop. We must target the correct objective when we learn Spanish.
At this point, I can probably conclude that I did not excel in high school Spanish because the curriculum and activities were creating and reinforcing axon pathways in my brain specifically for reading and writing. Had I been able to converse and develop pathways for speaking, I would have been more proficient in communicating in Spanish. There’s a common saying, “practice how you’ll execute,” and it rings true for language learning.
More Than Practice: Quality and Effectiveness
The video I previously mentioned goes on to point out that although practice is necessary to build up the myelin along your axons, it’s not the only thing needed to develop mastery over any skill, including speaking Spanish.
This explains why repeating a bunch of words randomly or without context, often does NOT lead to Spanish fluency. So, we have talked about how traditional learning methods are ineffective. What’s the correct way to learn Spanish quickly, then?
How We Do It:
At Spanish Academy, we’ve developed a unique method of teaching Spanish that centers around five key concepts represented by the acronym RAMMA. These letters stand for:
Our classes are either 1-on-1 or 2-on-1, giving you the ability to talk about things that are relevant to your life. This does a couple of things. First, it gives your brain a point of reference and allows you to contextualize and process what’s going on. It also aids in pushing the information into your long term memory.
Because the information is relevant to your experience, you’re naturally more engaged in the class. Studies show time and time again*** that when you are attentive, your brain is more likely to retain the information.
Now that your classes are relevant to your experiences, you can learn Spanish through a lens you are familiar with. This gives meaning and perspective to your Spanish learning journey. Instead of just learning a bunch of generic words and phrases that you might never use, you will actually learn useful and meaningful vocabulary, grammar, and conversation skills.
Just like being attentive allows you to store information in your long-term memory, giving meaning to the context allows you to do the same. All that context, perspective, and meaning lets you process and store this information a lot faster than if you were to just try and memorize things a list of words.
Of course, repetition plays an important part in language learning. That’s where the last letter comes in: A for accountability. To continue with something that’s difficult, you need guidance and direction – or accountability. This is one of the most important things that people forget about or don’t include in their learning regiment because they don’t think it’s important. However, it can actually shorten your learning curve by avoiding mistakes that you would otherwise make. Think of your Spanish teacher (or some accountability partner) like Google Maps. You’re still able to get to where you need to go without Google Maps, but it’s a lot faster if you have it guiding you along the way.
Learn Spanish Fast
In my travels, there’s a joke that I’ve encountered many times over – as I’m sure many of you probably have. It goes something like this…
“What do you call someone that knows three languages?”
“What do you call someone who knows two languages?”
“What do you call someone who knows one language?”
Crazy right? But, there’s some truth to the joke. In many parts of America, there are people who feel that other languages should not be spoken or used in public.
Without getting political, I think one of the reasons for this, is that people find it really hard to learn Spanish or any other language. And it is challenging, don’t get me wrong. But it can be easier than people make it out to be if they practice and learn Spanish correctly.
So, it’s time to throw out those traditional methods and start learning Spanish effectively today. Click here to learn even more about how our program can help you learn Spanish fast, or go ahead and sign up for a free class. We can’t wait to see you in class!
About the author
Ron went from zero to Spanish fluency in 3 months after he left his high-paying consultant gig to become a director of a school for impoverished kids in Guatemala in 2009 – dove into the deep end. In 2010, he saw an opportunity for a real business and began his company in his tiny apartment. As the CEO/Founder of Homeschool Spanish Academy & Spanish Academy TV, he loves making an impact in students’ lives and also really loves chocolate.
If you’d like to learn more about how the brain works, check out this TED video. Or watch this one to discover how to learn Spanish in only 6 months! These videos go more in-depth with the ideas discussed in this blog.
Image creditRead More
This one is for all of you Netflix bingers and Goosebump book series gobblers. All you night owls that suddenly become early birds because you end your day and begin that daily grind with those characters that you love and glean from so much. Any ideas of who we’re talking about? …No, we are not talking about Hannah Montana (or is it just simply Miley Cyrus nowadays?), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, OR the Motley Crue. Could they be considered Spanish grammar mistake-fighting BFFs disguised as rockstars? Well, to us they are the blockbusters of Spanish commands.
That is right, ladies and gentlemen. The Fearless Few Crew are back with more examples, tips, and tricks that will help you with Spanish commands. In today’s episode, we will dive deeper into the command structure.
The last episode of ‘Spanish Commands and the Fearless Few Crew’
Certainly, you remember how we ended our last episode. The Fearless Third became sidewalk Silly Putty because he just simply could not listen to the simple Spanish command given to him by his crew of “MIREN EL CARRO! CUIDADO!” Now we are here at the hospital listening to all of the simple Spanish commands that we learned from last time:
If you have ever been to the hospital, you know that there are many requests given to you, and sometimes even actually taken seriously by you, because, as we all know, when you are in the emergency room YOU are the star! Broken bones, pink eyes, swollen big toe… you name it. Whatever brought you to the hospital has now made YOU the king. You hold the scepter now, which means YOU give the commands to your crew, hoping to ease your pain. Congratulations!
Wow… that was a lot of talking about YOU (a handy-dandy pronoun) to whom we are pleased to welcome to the crew of Spanish commands.
First things first: Pronouns and objects with Spanish commands
As king, before WE can give orders and verdicts and demands of more slushy-type hospital ice cups in Spanish, we have to learn how to make THEM (another pronoun). The pronouns needed for Spanish commands. If you remember, there are 2 types: direct and indirect object pronouns. Let’s look at them quickly:
You can also quickly jump over to our blog specifically about Spanish Pronouns if you need a refresher or to simply flex your pronoun muscles. You will need to know them when you are making Spanish commands as the sentence structure completely changes when you throw pronouns and objects into commanding Spanish sentences. How do you ask? Well, let’s see what the Fearless Third is demanding for in his hospital Silly Putty state.
Spanish commands vs non-commanding Spanish sentences: What do they look like?
In English, our commands, demands, and rights as king come with a ‘please’ or just an exclamation point, but in Spanish the structure changes! Not only does it change, but it is more of a complex, roundabout way of structuring pronouns and objects.
Now, that looks a little complicated. Before we move on, let’s look at the formulas so we can make these on our own! To form normal sentences with direct and indirect objects, use this formula:
(Remember, you can use ‘lo’ instead of ‘perro.’ You would just put it before the verb and after the indirect object.)
Similarly, the formula for commands uses pronouns. The trick is to combine the pronouns and make sure they are in the right order! Check it out:
See the difference? Here is a great list resource that the nurse from StudySpanish.com just brought us to show more examples of Non-Commanding vs. Commanding Spanish sentences.
Spanish commands vs non-commanding Spanish sentences & ruling as king: ‘THE’ Rule
However, before we can go and start practicing with the Fearless Few as the newly crowned ruler, we also have to check out our number one rule (besides NEVER freaking out…) It’s the ‘THE’ rule or the ‘Lela’ rule.
No, we are not forgetting ‘Do, re, mi.’ When there are two object pronouns (see charts above), we have a special rule. If both pronouns begin with the letter “l,” you must change the first pronoun to “se.”
Want to practice more? Nurse! Bring me more practice!
Examples of Spanish commands vs non-commanding Spanish sentences:
Ok! So here we are, kings and queens of the infirmary. We are right alongside The Fearless Third and his silly putty self. Let’s try and see if we can identify which sentences are commanding and non-commanding Spanish sentences in the midst of his wails.
Ready bingers and allnighters? The new season is done, so it’s time to rewatch the last ones. Plus you are going to need something to do besides commanding the enfermera around during your reign.
Check out how the Fearless Third interacts with the nurse and try to identify the Spanish commands. Then, check your work using our answer key.
Fearless Third: Quiero más agua.
Enfermera (nurse): Por su puesto mi amor. Chico, ¡regálale agua!
Enfermera: ¡No te muevas! Necesito limpiar tu herida.
Fearless Third: ¡No me toques!
Enfermera: ¿Quieres comer?
Fearless 3: ¡Sí! Dame pizza!
The rest of the crew: ¡¿QUE?! ¡No hables de pizza! ¡Por eso estamos aqui!
Now, to practice this episode more, ACUÉRDENSE (REMEMBER, YOU PEOPLE!) to go to the following HSA blogs:
Above all, have fun and get well soon! ¡Qué te mejores!Read More
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.
Have you ever tried to write a paper in Spanish, but your keyboard didn’t have any of the special characters? It can undoubtedly be time-consuming to copy and paste letters eventually from websites. Luckily, you can find the secret to fast typing in a foreign language through the use of Spanish alt codes. Because of these simple shortcuts, you can type whichever Spanish character you need. So, let’s get started and learn how to use these codes on your Windows PC or Mac!
How to Use Spanish Alt Codes
First, you can look at the list of lowercase and capital letter Spanish alt codes. You can write down the codes on a piece of paper for easy reference. Secondly, press the Number Lock key at the top left of the numeric keypad and it will turn on a small light. You will see to the left of the space bar is the ‘alt’ key. Hold this key down while you type the code for whichever character you need and then release it when finished. Suddenly, your character will appear!
When You Don’t Have a Keypad
If you do not have a numeric keypad, you will have to do it a bit differently. At the bottom left of your keyboard, you will need to press the function key, seen as “fn”. Press that key while pressing the “num lock” key, which is in the top right corner of the keyboard. Then release the “num lock” key and then the “fn” key. When you do this, you will have turned on your Number Lock. You can then utilize the alt codes by using the number keys in the top horizontal row of your keyboard.
Lowercase and Capital Codes in Spanish
Alt Codes for Mac
For those of you using a Mac, you may be wondering if these will work despite your operating system. Unfortunately, Spanish alt codes are only understood by Windows software. However, if you are using a newer Mac, you will be able to hold a letter key down and a menu will pop up for you to choose which accented letter you wish to use. If your Mac does not have this feature, you can watch our video on both Windows and Mac codes or use this quick guide:
How to Activate the International Keyboard
Another way to use alt codes is with the international keyboard. This allows you to use template codes for accented letters without memorizing the numbers in alt codes. To turn on this feature, you will need to go to the Start Menu and choose Control Panel. Once you do that, click Clock, Language and Region and then Regional and Language Options. In that control panel, you will click the Languages tab and then Details. Then click Add and select English from the Input Language menu. Lastly, check the Keyboard layout/IME box and select from the menu: (1) United States International, (2) UK, (3) Canadian, (4) Dvorak. Now that you’ve activated the international keyboard, make sure to click all of the OK buttons until you are no longer in any of the control panels.
Alt Codes for International Keyboard
In the following template, both uppercase and lowercase letters change with the vowel. As you can see, “V” is used in place of any uppercase vowel while “v” is used for any lowercase vowel. Not only is this a convenient way to type, but it’s also easy to remember the codes. (For example, ‘ + o = ó and ‘ + O = Ó)
Switch Keyboard Layouts through Language
A third option you have for swift Spanish typing is to add a second language as well as another keyboard layout to your operating system. To do this, go first to the Control Panel. Click Clock, Language, and Region, then Change input methods, and finally Advanced settings. Then, under Switching input methods, select Use the desktop language bar when it’s available and then click Options. Lastly, in the Text Services and Input Languages dialog box, click the Language Bar tab, and make sure that either the Floating On Desktop or the Docked in the taskbar option is selected. A language bar will then appear near the clock on the taskbar or somewhere on your desktop. You can also click the language bar to switch in like manner between different keyboards.
While using the Spanish keyboard (which is abbreviated as ESP in the language bar), you can take advantage of a few shortcuts. Notably, the :/; key becomes the ñ, the ¡ is Control and +, and ¿ is simply + (next to backspace, not on the number pad). To do accents, you will click the [ key first then whichever letter needs an accent.
The convenience of Spanish Alt Codes
Spanish alt codes are easy to use and they help you to write faster when typing in a foreign language. You will no longer have to copy and paste accented letters from websites! Instead, you can simply check your saved list of Spanish alt codes or use your international keyboard to type more efficiently, saving you lots of time and energy. ¡Inténtalo! Also, if you find our article helpful, please consider sharing it thus helping others to use Spanish alt codes.
For more help writing in Spanish, watch our video on codes for both Macs and PCs!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
What can you do to brave a new language class? Here are four common fears and how to face them head on.
Fear #1: “I don’t understand!”
Many students are certain they won’t understand a word in class, in the textbook or from their classmates once they step into a Spanish class. No one wants to be the only one in the room who feels lost.. However, there will be times when a word or phrase goes over our head and sets off a round of anxiety. How can we keep this fear in its place?
Solution: Find the right teacher for you
One of the best ways to get past this fear is to consider your options. The right teacher, environment and pace will help you relax. Once the stress is out of the picture, you can enjoy the moments when you don’t understand – that means there’s a chance to learn something new. Some teachers use music, props or actions to help with context while others use more images or texts. Look for a teaching style that inspires you and a teacher who can go at your pace and you’ll love every minute of class.
Fear #2: “I can’t say that word.”
Pronounce this word: Refrigerador. If you struggled to get the vowel sounds and accent right, you are one of many new speakers thrown by this and many other common words in Spanish.
Spanish vowels, stress, and accents on vocabulary vary. It’s easy to mispronounce words as we learn a new language, but there’s hope for you and anyone who struggles to open the mysteries of él refrigerador.
Solution: Sing a song
Singing is one of the best ways to learn how to pronounce new words. Look for songs that show their lyrics or come with a printable version of the words. If looking to master the language, join a Spanish choir, take guitar lessons in your new language or translate a popular song into Spanish.
A melody and a beat will help you hear the words in a new way. The added emotion of the song will seal the proper pronunciation into your memory.
Fear #3: “What if I freeze up?”
The fear of conversing with someone and suddenly forgetting an important word or how to properly place it in a sentence is one that many students express. It happens – one minute we know what to say, the next we don’t.
Solution – More practice in and out of class
The best way to face this fear is to let it happen, laugh at yourself, then try again. Learn some key phrases like, “I’m still learning; give me a second,” can be extremely helpful. Ask your teacher to give you a few ways to say that you are a Spanish learner to help you remind your new acquaintances you might need a moment to express yourself.
Keep in mind that even native speakers go blank or get distracted sometimes. It’s normal.
Fear #4: “What if I can’t do it?”
We all shiver at the thought of being the lowest in class, the last to learn something or the student who quits and walks away from something new. If you’re feeling this way, it’s a good thing. It means you’re being realistic about your schedule, your limitations, and prior commitments.
Solution – Set good goals for yourself
Sit down with your schedule and block out your free time. Do you have a window you can dedicate to a new class? If your answer is yes, think about what you might use as a reward for completing a semester of Spanish. Whether it’s as big as a trip to Mexico or as small as a new pair of shoes, grab a picture of your reward and hang it on the wall to remind yourself what you’re working towards.
Everyone gets intimidated by new things, but fear doesn’t have to be the decision maker. Take control of the situation, be realistic and reward yourself for learning new things and taking risks. You’re worth it!
Have something to add to this of common fears for learning a new language? Please feel free to share with the HSA community in the comments below!
Ready to take the first step? Schedule your first class today with HSA and start learning Spanish!Read More
Choosing a language program presents parents with a barrage of choices. The good news is there is no need to panic – researchers, teachers and students the world over have found language is best acquired and retained in an immersion class.
What is immersion?
Immersion is actually a balance between what teachers call ‘L1’, the student’s native language, and ‘L2’, the new language. A good program will use the student’s mastery of English to support and encourage the acquisition of new words and phrases in Spanish.
There are a few ways teachers and programs achieve this. One is with a lot of visuals. This includes gestures, modelling, 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”.
Students new to a program will use some English to start, but over time will depend on their new language to build their fluency.
The Problem with Non-Immersion Classes
Automated programs like Rosetta Stone make the claim that a student can learn their second language the same way they learned their first. In other words, tap into your former, baby brain and use it to acquire a whole new set of vocabulary.
There is a major issue with this approach – a brain grows up. And by growing, a brain makes significant changes in its connections and processes from year to year. While a three-month old brain can perceive any number of phonemes or distinct sounds within words, a one-year old brain is no longer able to do this. By that age, babies only respond to words and sounds they already know.
Young children also get the opportunity to guess at a lot of words. A small child of three might call a spoon a fork, for example. Parents are there to correct them over time and steer them towards the right answers.
Some programs have copied this, allowing language students to guess at which word matches which picture. While this technique works for babies, it’s ineffective for everyone else. After all, a student can accidentally guess the right answer any number of times, but getting lucky isn’t an effective way to learn.
Benefits of Immersion
Immersion style learning helps a lot because it shifts a learner’s first language into something new without allowing for a lot guesses. It’s a more natural and instinctive approach.
Most of us need to know some basic things with language like how to ask “What’s your name?” or “How much for milk?” With immersion, a learner takes the phrase he or she already knows and transforms it into “¿Cómo te llamas?” or “¿Cuánto cuesto el leche?”
Yes, the grammar and structure is a bit different, but the idea is the same. This crossover helps make for better understanding and retention.
Students who learn in an immersive style have a lot more confidence in their new language and feel much better entering a conversation with new people who might not speak any English. Most importantly, it means your son or daughter will actually speak a language, not a smattering of words or random phrases, and that is real bilingualism.
Ready to give HSA’s immersive program a try? Sign up for a free class today.Read More
The search for a good Spanish program can be lengthy and difficult, especially if you’re not sure what kind of program you or your child will respond to best. Do you want to spend the money on a private instructor and hope the teacher knows what they’re doing? Or should the two of you navigate a set of textbooks or a software-based curriculum at the kitchen table and hope for the best?
Weighing your options is always a good idea. Here are three different approaches you can use to guide your learning and help you speak Español excelente.
Rosetta Stone Online Program
Developed in 1992 in Virginia, this is a Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) software. Like HSA, it encourages users to go at their own pace and enjoy the process. Unlike HSA, it’s taught by an automated program, not a teacher that speaks and connects with the student.
Rosetta Stone uses images, text, sound and repetition to help the user learn Spanish. It offers a chance to analyze things like how many questions the student answered correctly, how accurate their pronunciation is with the help of visual sound graphs and how long each lesson is taking. There is no text book and no instructor attached to each learner.
- Easy to get started – a visit to their website and a payment gets you started
- Very analytical and practical
- Image heavy – the screen never looks like a test, even when it is
- No book or instructor. Each learner is truly on their own
- Every learner gets the same presentation, so if they get bored or lost, there’s no adjusting the curriculum
- No free trial, you have to buy it
- No instructor to guide you through the program
Pimsleur Online Program
The Pimsleur program has taken language learning and done some reevaluating in how we learn and why we may not acquire new vocabulary and structure as we might hope. This program claims to have an entirely new approach they’ve termed “Graduated Interval Recall.” Basically, students remember by being asked to recall specific phrases and then wait to see how they did. This makes for active listening in a program that is purely audio.
Users have reviewed the program as usable, yet overly formal. It was originally created for the standard travelling businessman who needs to talk about his wife and kids, not a young person visiting family or a student on break.Again, there’s no book or teacher – the student interacts with the program itself and it can’t be tailored.
- Audio based and highly interactive, students want to guess the right phrase and feel elated when they succeed.
- No reading or note taking, just a conversation
- Students learn a formal version of each language and may sound a little old-fashioned as speakers
- The program focuses on a married, male perspective, making this less than ideal for young learners
- No teacher or textbook
The Homeschool Spanish Academy (HSA) Online Learning Program
Easily one of the best options around. The program not only has its own, highly refined curriculum, it’s also entirely up to you when your child starts and how often he or she takes classes. Instruction happens one-on-one with a real live instructor, meaning each student has their teacher’s full attention throughout the lesson. Your son or daughter will be speaking introductory Spanish after just one lesson and can do review with you in the program’s textbook.
Best of all, HSA offers a free, no-risk trial for one or two students at a time before you commit. You don’t give your credit card information or make any decisions until you are positive this program is perfect for your little learner.
- Personal, tailored instruction with a human teacher and printable textbook
- A free, no-commitment trial class prior to any purchase
- Siblings can take classes together
- Classes encourage speaking, interaction and true language acquisition
- Online only – this isn’t really a hindrance as students can access the classes on any device
Is your little learner ready to start learning Spanish? Click here to sign up for a free class today.Read More
Learning a foreign language has many benefits, but like many purchases, cost can be an important factor. Is software a good fit? Are you going to teach the lessons yourself? Can you really afford a private, online tutor for your child?
Here’s a closer look at some popular programs, their highlights, and what they cost.
Homeschool Spanish Academy (HSA)
Homeschool Spanish Academy classes are taught live (online) by accredited instructors and the classes can be scheduled at your convenience. The program focuses on effectiveness, achievement, and retention while helping your child learn as authentically as possible. There is an option to take accredited classes or do the course as a fun extra curricular.
As a parent, you choose if you want a 25 minute or 50 minute class. Each class includes a review section, live instruction and assigned homework to help your child practice their new language. Longer classes will earn your child high school credit.
Your price per class goes down the more classes you sign up for at a time. Also, if you’re uncertain, you can try a free class to make sure HSA is the right program for your independent learner.
50 Minute Sessions
- 15 classes – $219 total or $14.60 per class
- 30 classes – $369 total or $12.30 per class
- 60 classes – $599 total or $9.98 per class
25 Minute Sessions
- 15 classes – $149 total or $9.93 per class
- 30 classes – $249 total or $8.30 per class
- 60 classes – $399 total or $6.65 per class
Have two kids ready to speak Spanish? They also offer HSA+1 at a lower cost for students wanting to take classes together.
Rosetta Stone Online Classes
Rosetta Stone, formerly a set of CD-Roms and now an easily downloadable program, also offers online learning. However, the popular program falls short when it comes to instruction.
All lessons are automated and not monitored by a teacher. There is some review, but it is also automated and not tailored to the student. The program is favored by adults who do a lot of travelling because it’s not built with students in mind. Rosetta Stone does not offer high school credit directly, however they are amenable to helping students earn language credits. Contact the company directly for more information.
Geared towards those who prefer to learn on their own and via the internet, Rosetta Stone is a predictable program that charges per level. While the site offers a quick demonstration video, there is no free trial available.
- Level 1 Spanish: $94
- Levels 2 – 5: $124 per level (customers can choose to buy one level at a time)
- Total cost of a complete course: $590
TakeLessons Live Spanish
Takelessons.com is also a live instructor course offering a varied curriculum for students. While some classes are appropriate for kids, others focus on themes like Spanish for Customer Service or Vacation Spanish. Helpful, but not accredited and not fun for the little ones.
TakeLessons has a program that asks you to choose a time that works for you and then your child joins a group class. Each lesson has a set price and there is no textbook or homework assigned. The program also does not contribute to a student’s school credits.
While the program is a good fit for the right person, the price is a reflection of its rigidity and the fact that students learn in a digital group as opposed to one-on-one. A month-long free trial is available, though classes only happen once a week.
- One class: $19.95
- $319.20 per semester
Private (in-person) Tutoring
There’s no question that in-person private tutoring has a long list of advantages. Being able to work through homework, study for tests or even just practice Spanish in person with a private tutor allows students to comfortably ask questions and get live feedback (corrections and assurance). Also, private tutoring sessions allow tutors to cater to the needs of each student unlike group tutoring and being in-person makes for a more personal connection that can help the tutor identify and fill learning gaps. Just one session (typically 60 minutes) per week can have a big impact for students.
Unfortunately, one-on-one private tutoring can be very expensive. Private Spanish tutors typically base their pricing on the curriculum level and it is common for those with more experience to charge more. Like most services, location can certainly play into the pricing as well.
- One hour: $30-85 (varies based on location, curriculum level, tutor’s experience)
- $450 – $1275 per semester (one session per week / 15 weeks per semester)
Ready to give Spanish a try? Click here to sign up for a free class today.Read More