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
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
What’s the difference between “martes” and “miércoles” in Spanish? If you still struggle with this answer, then you are in the right place! In this post, you will learn the seven most common words in Spanish: the days of the week. Additionally, we will cover how to pronounce them and use them in sentences. What’s more, if you need a boost in memory power, I’ll share below a proven technique for you to remember new vocabulary. ¡Vamos!
Días de la Semana
Firstly, there are a few differences you must know about los días de la semana in Spanish. For example, they are always lower case, unlike the days in English. In contrast to the English calendar that starts with Sunday, the week begins on Monday in Latin countries. Additionally, each day uses the masculine definite article in singular (el lunes) and plural (los lunes).
The Definite Articles: “El” and “Los”
When using the definite article “el” while we talk about the days of the week, it means “on”. Try out these phrases to practice the new vocabulary:
¿Vas a venir a mi casa el domingo?
Are you going to come to my house on Sunday?
Yo tengo que trabajar el lunes.
I have to work on Monday.
Él quiere ir al dentista el jueves.
He wants to go to the dentist on Thursday.
Furthermore, we can change the definite article to “los” and add an -s to the day when we mean to say that something happens habitually. Keep in mind, if the day already ends in -s then we don’t need to add another -s.
Yo hago compras con mi abuela los sábados.
I shop with my grandma on Saturdays.
Ella juega a las cartas los martes.
She plays cards on Tuesdays.
Los miércoles, yo trabajo como tutor de inglés.
On Wednesdays, I work as an English tutor.
How to Memorize
In order to remember the days of the week as quickly as possible, you can follow a tried-and-true memory technique. This requires a bit of creativity, but it’s well worth it! For each day, try to link the sound of the word with a crazy mental image. Surprisingly, this technique is consistent and effective. Let’s try it together…
El lunes – When you read the word, it sounds very similar to the English word “loony.” Think of a funny image of a loony-looking guy standing in front of a sign that reads “Lunes”. He is the first in a line of six other characters, which will be the other days of the week. You can even repeat in your head “Loony lunes” to reinforce both the pronunciation and the image.
Now you try!
Write your list of the next six days and write out a description of a super crazy, funny picture. Similarly, you could just draw it. Remember, the trick is in the image: the crazier it is, the easier it will be to remember. In no time, you will memorize all of the Spanish days of the week!
The Origin of the Spanish Days of the Week
The Spanish days of the week have a significant history and origin to their names. Read on to learn more:
Lunes comes from the Latin Dies lunae, meaning día de la luna. In English, this means, “Day of the Moon”.
Martes comes from the Latin Dies marte, meaning día de marte. In English, this means “Day of Mars”.
Miércoles comes from the Latin Mercurii dies, meaning día de Mercurio. In English, this means “Day of Mercury.”
Jueves comes from the Latin Jovis dies, meaning día de Júpiter. In English, this means “Day of Jupiter.”
Viernes comes from the Latin Veneris dies, meaning día de Venus. In English, it stands for “Day of Venus.”
Sábado comes from the Hebrew word Sabbat, the day of rest.
Domingo comes from the Latin Dies Dominicus, día del Señor or “Day of the Lord” in English. It is related to both the sun and the Christian reverence for the son of God, Jesus.
The Days of Our Lives
All in all, learning the days of the week in Spanish is important for conversations and meetings with friends. You will also be able to understand when they are trying to set a date with you. Moreover, you’ll be able to talk about some of your habits and routines when you are getting to know someone. Ultimately, every beginner Spanish learner should make sure they know the days of the week and how to use them in a sentence.Read More
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
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
Many homeschool Spanish programs claim to have a great method for learning and retaining the language, but unfortunately most of them are made with the goal of translation, not true understanding and end up falling short.
How can you know what to look for in your child’s homeschool Spanish curriculum? Certain elements will stand out in a better curriculum. Here are 4 elements to look for when choosing a program.
Good Listening Practices
Hearing the correct pronunciation of a word, being able to follow a conversation and pick up on cues all come from active listening in class. A great curriculum will value listening skills as an important part of each lesson.
Early classes in a low-level Spanish class will put a big emphasis on pronunciation. The teacher may stretch out the word to emphasize each vowel, consonant and accent. Words will build into simple phrases spoken at a slower pace and repeated as needed.
It’s also essential that the student hear a variety of people speak Spanish. This helps the brain compile a sound file from the many versions of how a word or phrase sounds within a range instead of the same thing over and over. A good class will help your child create this mental file and recognize a word in a song, conversation or test.
Again, this seems like an obvious one, but so much of language happens when we read We mentally pronounce the words on the page, we remember their shape and meaning and store them in our long-term memory so that we can use them. Active, levelled reading needs to be a part of your child’s program.
Reading should begin with single words and basic, two to three-word phrases. Don’t discount them, that’s an important part of the process. Phrases and ideas will grow and get more complicated further into the program. Your student needs to feel confident reading both to themselves and out loud to you or their instructor to gain a stronger grasp on their Spanish.
Written Spanish is so much more complicated than it sounds – the punctuation changes, the spelling is different and the flow is very unlike that of which we see in English. It is essential that your child practice writing single words, basic phrases and more complex ideas as he or she works through a program.
Many students balk at writing of any kind. It’s always the most trying and complicated part of language acquisition, even in the best classes. Since writing is where applied learning happens in Spanish class and it cannot be overlooked. Your child may struggle with this aspect more than any other – that’s normal. Just be ready with loads of extra support.
Encourage your child to write out song lyrics, jokes, short stories and anything else they like in Spanish to enhance their new skills. It will help them feel great about their new language and show you exactly how much they are understanding in class.
Speaking and Conversation
The importance of speaking and using Spanish is essential to any learner. Many Spanish curriculums put an emphasis on translating phrases into English or put more energy into reading and writing. While these aren’t bad things to do, they skip the most important element – speaking.
Language students who have an emphasis on conversation use a different part of their brains as they speak than when they write out an exercise or read a textbook. The combination of all three makes for a more complete and immersive experience and helps learners master Spanish on a deeper level.
At Homeschool Spanish Academy, your child has a Spanish speaker to practice with one on one as part of their daily practice. It helps them internalize each word and make it their own as they work through the program.
Try a free trial session today and see for yourself why our teachers and our homeschool Spanish curriculum are helping so many students become bilingual. Click here to schedule your class.Read More