Understanding the American banking system is complicated –even to English speakers who are reading English documents. Banking and lending institutions, along with credit card companies, make it so darn confusing to understand their jargon that it takes research and good guidance (albeit from someone who has your best interest in mind) to understand what is being said and the implications of the contract.
Successful bankers look for ways to broaden the market. It is evident that non-English speaking persons are underserved in this sector. If you want to expand your business and serve new markets, then learning another language and being able to explain complicated banking terminology is key.
Limited-English-Proficiency (LEP) Populations are Underserved
When a market is underserved, that means there’s an opportunity. According to the US Census Bureau, as of July 2018, 18.1% of Americans are of Hispanic or Latino descent, and there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the USA.
Learning Spanish will help you serve this vast population.
For years, the United States Government has been receiving reports and complaints from non-governmental organizations and both private and governmental sectors that people who don’t speak English well, or at all, are negatively impacted when conducting financial affairs. Evidence has indicated that limited English has a direct relationship with limited financial literacy.
This means millions of people are unable to make informed money management decisions and cannot effectively take proactive measures for their current and future financial health. It is crucial for everyone to understand their finances.
Some steps have been taken to reduce deceptive and abusive practices by the financial institutions, but more can be done.
A Step in the Right Direction
As an example, The Credit Card Act of 2009 was passed by the United States Congress in 2009 and took effect in 2010. This act directed credit card companies to make their statements more understandable with clearer disclosures about how to pay your bill on -time and the consequences if you don’t.
As part of the act, The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) was mandated to examine the relationship between fluency in the English language and financial literacy. Is there a disadvantage for non-English speakers in the US Banking System?
The study found that:
· translated financial materials may not be using colloquial or culturally appropriate language.
· Interpreters don’t always fully understand banking information or are not able to explain the material. Often times, assistance is provided from families’ minor children.
· Immigrants may distrust the U.S. financial system since it is different than their native country; therefore, they are more likely to use alternative financial services – such as payday lenders and check-cashing services – that often have unfavorable fees, terms, and conditions.
· Carrying debt can be viewed negatively, which deters some people from taking loans to purchase homes or cars and building credit histories.
· Limited English language skills may make one more susceptible to fraudulent and predatory practices.
We want to do business with those we like and trust, and we build these things through communication.
Opportunities Exist for Bankers
Since a limited number of bankers speak Spanish, families often rely on their young children to interpret complicated finance matters for them. This, compounded with the fact that some cultures mistrust government and banking institutions, leaves a large gap in potential home-buyers, responsible loan paybacks, and other banking relationships.
The US Latino market is a growing driving force in the US economy. Millions of people are building businesses, buying homes, and purchasing cars, which means they require financial assistance. If trust isn’t built and information isn’t shared between bankers and the Latino community, then the gap will continue to grow.
Did you know the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau monitors unfair practices, and as a result, deters most US banks from even advertising in Spanish? This is because if companies advertise in Spanish to attract new customers, then they need to offer 100% support throughout the entire process (cradle to grave) in Spanish – and most can’t do that…yet.
There’s No Time like Now
Latinos are underrepresented in banking and therefore seek out information from family first and advertising second. Their families are oftentimes not properly informed, and advertisements are mostly in English, causing people to feel confused and uneducated about the banking process.
Research shows that Latinos have a great interest in gaining access to more banking information in Spanish, such as:
· Latinos are 2x more likely than non-Hispanics to be interested in financial service ads
· 73% of Latinos think more commercials should be directed to Spanish-speakers
· 88% of Latinos think companies who make an effort deserve their loyalty
· 30% of Latinos would switch banks if Spanish mobile apps were available
What are you waiting for? Here is your chance to help an underserved community!
Expand your horizons today and take a free Spanish class with a native Spanish-speaking teacher in Antigua, Guatemala. Our excellent teachers can answer any questions you have of the Spanish-language banking system they use and how it directly benefits them!
One of the more exciting aspects of learning a new language is finding out the unusual characters it contains, and Spanish is no exception. Not only do we have special characters like ‘ñ’, but also combined characters like ‘ll.’ There are also some letters that sound the same and others whose sound depends on its placement in a word.
Phew! All that can make your head spin if you take it all at once. In today’s blog, we’ll organize, simplify, and explain several of the tricky consonants that are found in the language. If you’re the kind of student that’s been speaking Spanish for a while, you’ll find these guides will help you perfect your understanding of the language. If you’re just starting out, these tips will serve as tools to jumpstart your Spanish career by helping you get ahead of the reading game! Remember that while these tips are useful, practice is the key to becoming a bilingual master. Let’s get started!
LL or Y – What’s the difference?
I remember that when I first began working with my new office mate from Costa Rica, she would make fun of me for not pronouncing the ‘ll’ and ‘y’ correctly in Spanish, as I would often use the ‘y’ sound for both. The truth is, I never really paid much attention to the differences between the two, and each culture has a different approach on how to pronounce these two letters. So, what’s the consensus on pronunciation?
For la doble l, the double l, the sound you make is the same sound that the letter ‘j’ does in a lot of English words. Juice, jade, June, and July are some examples of words that use the same pronunciation. You can then alternate words like juice and lluvia (rain) to practice!
For the letter ‘y’, it’s a bit more complex. Sometimes, you’ll use the same pronunciation as in la doble l, and sometimes you’ll use the same sound as the ‘ee’ in ‘eerie’. When should you use each one? The basic rules are as follows:
When the ‘y’ is found at the end of the word, it acts as a vowel, and its use is purely grammatical. Also, in some regions of Latinoamérica, people won’t change the way they pronounce the ‘y,’ having it act as a vowel all the time! It’s fun to learn how speech changes from one region to the next, your Spanish will improve faster if you talk with people from different countries.
B and V
Unlike the b and v in English, these letters are pronounced exactly the same in Spanish – the pronunciation is officially called a bilabial sonoro, or a bilabial sound. In other words, you use both of your lips, more like the English ‘b.’ The difference between the letters has been purely grammatical for over 100 years! While you may hear people in some regions pronounce them differently, the correct pronunciation that the majority of Spanish-speakers use is to not differentiate between the sounds.
Below you’ll find a chart with different ways to name these two letters. Bear in mind the names on the last row of the chart are very informal, and it’s best to avoid using them (especially in a business setting) but are important to know anyway.
Different names for ‘v’ and ‘b’
The letter H is like a spooky ghost!
It is probably the easiest letter you’ll ever learn how to say in Spanish, because you don’t say it at all! The ‘h’ is a silent letter. Much like how the English language has changed and been left with quirks and marks in writing, this letter is a vestige of the way we spoke some centuries ago. As the language became more sophisticated and evolved with time, the consonants became smoother. The ‘h’ actually became so smooth that people stopped pronouncing it all together; that doesn’t mean it’s completely useless, though! In some cases, the ‘h’ will guide the pronunciation of certain words like buho (owl) by separating the two vowels and making the word composed of two syllables as opposed to one, changing the way it’s said.
One noisy exception
As my preschool teacher used to say: “The ‘h’ is shy and doesn’t like to make noise, but if her best friend ‘c’ sits next to her, everyone will be able to hear them!” This was a neat way to let us know that our beloved ghost letter still holds some use in Spanish. If you’ve ever been to a mexican food restaurant you’ve probably ordered a ‘chimichanga’ or a ‘chalupa.’ These words are great because they tell us just how the letter ‘h’ combined with the ‘c’ sound. The examples I gave you, I believe, are a great way to remember when and how the ‘h’ makes a noise in Spanish. However, perhaps the easiest examples I can give you on how to pronounce these letters are words like chair, chimes, and cherry. It’s indeed charming how cheerful these letters sound together!
The deceitful D
It is not uncommon for native Spanish speakers to accommodate their speech to better communicate with someone who’s still learning. In fact, I believe that’s one of the beautiful aspects of learning a new language: people will make an effort to connect with you better, even if you’re not great at their native tongue. However, in situations like social gatherings, for example, there can be a group of Spanish speakers that all of a sudden start making no sense at all. How can you better understand what they’re saying when they don’t pull their punches?
Idioms aside, one of the letters that Spanish speakers skip the most (besides the ‘s’) is the ‘d.’ When saying words like nada (nothing), native Spanish speakers like myself will say ‘nah-ah’ instead, and that can easily throw you off the flow of conversation if you have to listen in an active manner, like all language learners must do. Some Americans do this too! In some areas of the States, people cut out the ‘t’ of words. For example, instead of saying ‘mountain,’ you may hear ‘moun-ain’ without the ‘t!’ Even though a letter is skipped, the audience still understands. In Latinoamérica we do the same!
Another important thing to note is that the ‘d’ sound is a lot softer in Spanish. The main difference lies in the position of the tongue when saying this letter. You might be tempted to say the ‘d’ the same as ‘th,’ but that will make words like oportunidad (opportunity) way harder to say. To simplify things, to the Spanish ‘d’ sound you just have to move your tongue behind your teeth rather than in between, making a ‘doh’ sound instead.
J is a funny letter
If you’ve ever interacted online with someone who’s a native Spanish speaker, you might come across a text message that looks like this: jajajaja ¡qué risa!
It might look like they missed the keyboard when they tried to type “hahaha, that’s funny!” but that’s because the ‘j’ sound is the same as the basic ‘h’ sound in English. There is a subtle difference though, and that is that the ‘j’ sound can be both identical to the ‘h,’ or have a more ragged, raspy feel to it. The difference is regional (Guatemala has a raspy ‘j’ while El Salvador is known for doing more of an ‘h’ sound), and it mostly affects your accent rather than your understandability, so you can stick with the basic ‘h’ sound no problem.
My N has a little hat!
One of the two extra letters you’ll find in Spanish and not in English is the ‘ñ.’ I have a little trick that will help you say this letter right, and it’s a very easy trick at that! The way to pronounce the ‘ñ’ in Spanish – eñe – is as simple as saying the word ‘lanyard’ while keeping your teeth together. The sound that will come when you say ‘nya’ is the sound that belongs to our friend the eñe. Below are some Spanish words to practice with.
Last but not least, the Z
This letter is tricky because it’s one of the main differences between España and Latinoamérica when it comes to pronunciation. For Latinoamérica there’s really no difference between ‘z’ and ‘s,’ but if you’re in Spain, you might want to consider the following:
To pronounce the ‘z’ as they do in Spain, just talk as if you had a lisp, changing the ‘z’ for a ‘th’ as in the word ‘thick.’ Some word that’ll help you practice the ‘z’ are cereza (cherry), zapatos (shoes), and Suiza (Switzerland).
Take it one step at a time
Consonants are often a milestone when learning a new language. They can be scary and confusing, so remember to tackle them one by one! We cover most of the letters in this blog in our video about confusing consonants on our YouTube channel. Subscribe to receive great content to improve your Spanish! Make sure you visit our website to receive a free Spanish class live with one of our teachers.
Don’t forget to practice what you’ve just learned with our teacher Miss Lia!Read More
To be a global player, you need to familiarize yourself with español para los negocios (business Spanish).
Why? Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, and most Spanish-speaking countries are geographically located next to the USA. What does this mean? It is time to learn business Spanish in order to communicate -and do business with- our neighboring countries!
The Importance of Speaking Spanish and Building Rapport
Many cultures, including those from latinoamérica, rely on building relationships and trust before business dealings are discussed. Building rapport is key. This can be done through active listening, patience by spending time engaging in small-talk before ‘getting down to business,’ as well as showing real interest in your conversations.
Building rapport is also done by knowing Spanish and greeting your business associates in their native language! Don’t forget to use the proper form – formal or informal – in your greetings! Hola Ximena! Es un placer conocerle.
In the USA, small-talk can be short and sweet: “Good Morning! Did you have a nice weekend? Nice weather today, eh? Okay – Here’s what I need from you….” and the business meeting ensues. In many other countries, this would nary be a start. Lengthy amounts of time can be spent ‘feeling out’ the other parties’ intentions, temperament, motivations, non-verbal cues, etc.
The Criticality of Face-to-Face Meetings
I experienced this while working with an Indian company that was not accustomed to doing business with Americans, and it was one of my first times doing business in India. I was a ‘new’ member on the team and started ‘getting down to business’ on day one.
In order to perform an analysis, I required information to be sent via email. However, no one would send it to me. I had participated in a couple of phone meetings with my new counterparts and engaged in ‘small-talk’ with the team; nonetheless, when it came time for the company to share information with me…it was silence and avoidance. There was always an excuse that it was ‘delayed,’ or that they were ‘working on it’ – but I wasn’t receiving the data I needed.
I ended up consulting with an Indian-American colleague and discovered that the company most likely didn’t ‘trust’ me yet, and if I wanted to move forward with the project then I would have to meet them in person.
Off I went, traveling over 30 hours to have an in-person meeting with the company representatives. The meeting went well – we spent half the morning drinking tea and getting to know one another. My counterparts were ‘evaluating’ me to deem me trustworthy. Evidently, I passed the test because from that meeting forward, I received any and all information I requested without delay, hesitation, or excuses. Success!
In many cultures, it is crucial to spend time getting to know each other before the business meeting can officially start and before the business relationship can grow. Even though Southeast Asia and Latin America are two very different regions, they share this similarity (as do many other parts of the world!)
To help you facilitate your next meeting in Spanish, we have compiled a list of key business words and phrases below!
20 Key Business Words
Let’s start by learning the basics so you can speak with confidence.
Business Phrases Translated for You!
There are many common phrases used when talking about business projects, holding meetings, or striving to meet deadlines. Some of those phrases are colloquial, and you would only use them with your coworkers. Others are more formal and would be reserved for your boss or important clients.
Below are some key phrases that will apply to coworkers, bosses, and clients alike. Practice these to show your skills as a businessperson to your fellow Spanish speakers!
Practice Spanish Every Day
Knowing these top business keywords and phrases is a great start on becoming business-savvy in the Spanish workplace! To avoid language mishaps and dale con todo (put your best foot forward), it is important to practice Spanish every day!
Now You’re Ready!
The Spanish Academy offers personalized classes in real-time with real people that can adapt to your schedule. Be confident when holding your next business meeting! Practice with native Spanish-speakers today!
If you have studied Spanish for a little while, you have probably noticed that there are many connections between English and Spanish. Since they both have roots in Latin, there are many similarities, making it pretty easy to identify the meaning of new words in Spanish…or so you think. While you may be able to stick an ‘o’ or an ‘a’ to the end of some English words or change an -tion to a -ción to make them Spanish equivalents (tranquil — tranquilo, education — educación), it is not always that simple!
These words that look alike and have the same meaning are called cognates. Let’s look at some more:
- Plate — Plato
- Intention — Intención
- Capital — Capital
These examples either have the exact same spelling or just slight differences. There are other examples where the words may not look exactly the same but look enough like each other for us to make the correlation between the two:
- Necessity – Necesidad
- Lamp – Lámpara
While these connections between the two languages are great and can help us understand a lot more Spanish than we expect, it can often set us up for some awkward situations. How many times have you not known a word in Spanish and tried to just put a Spanish ending on the English one and hoped for the best? This often works (like with education and educación), but not always. There are numerous false cognates, or false friends as they are often called, that create confusion and miscommunication. Possibly the most common example of this is embarrassed and embarazada. They look similar, so they must mean the same thing, right? Wrong! Embarazada is actually pregnant, and the correct translation of embarrassed would be avergonzado(a). Can you see how false cognates can cause a lot of problems? Let’s look at some more.
Phew! That’s a lot of false cognates. Don’t stress, though! I learned a lot of these through trial and error, and it’s okay if you confuse these, too. Keep practicing, and be sure to talk with one of our certified Spanish teachers if you have any questions. Sign up for a FREE class now!
Today is my 20th birthday! My party will be at the fifth house on the second avenue. As of now, you’re the first to know! Ok, ok, so today isn’t really my birthday, but without the use of ordinal numbers, I wouldn’t be able to tell you all about it. Ordinal numbers tell us about an object’s position in relation to others. They are the numerical labels that help us arrange objects or ideas in order: first, second, third, etc. They are different from cardinal numbers, or natural numbers, that represent a quantity that we can count. When we learn about ordinal numbers in Spanish, it’s important to remember the vocabulary as well as the ways that they are used.
Ordinal Numbers 1-10
The most commonly used números ordinales in Spanish are numbers 1-10. As you will soon see, the numbers after 10 grow in complexity and length, which has undoubtedly persuaded Spanish speakers to use the cardinal numbers between 11 and a million much more frequently. Let’s start with a list of the numbers 1-10 in their ordinal form with a pronunciation cheat sheet!
It is important to take note that we do not use these ordinal numbers in Spanish exactly the same way that we use them in English. For example, unlike English, we write the days of the month with the cardinal number to specify a date. The only exception is for the first day of the month, where we use the ordinal number:
Cardinal number: El diez de agosto (August 10th)
Ordinal number for the first day of any month: El primero de abril (April 1st), el primero de agosto (August 1st)
The use of the ordinal number to denote the first of the month is a general and common rule for Spanish, but it is acceptable only in Spain to use uno instead of primero (El uno de abril).
Give it a try
Here is a quick quiz to see if you can fill in the blanks with the correct ordinal number, using the chart above to help! (See the answers at the end of the blog to check your work!)
1. el ______________ (8th) carro
2. el ______________ (1st) de noviembre
3. el ______________ (10th) suéter
4. el ______________ (5th) hermano
5. el ______________ (9th) cuadro
Ordinal Versus Cardinal
While cardinal numbers act as adjectives, ordinal numbers can be adverbs, pronouns, and adjectives. The major difference between them is that cardinal numbers do not usually change according to the gender and number of the noun, as ordinal numbers do. Here are a few examples that show how ordinal numbers change in order to adapt to the noun that they describe:
You will see that the ordinal number ending in ‘o’ comes before masculine nouns, while the ordinal number ending in ‘a’ precedes feminine nouns.
Do you notice anything strange in the chart above? Take a closer look at the ordinal number in the sentence Me dieron el primer boleto. In our example, it’s no mistake that primer is written without the final ‘o’. Ordinal numbers primero and tercero both lose the final ‘o’ when they are in front of a singular noun. This is the case even if another word is in between, as in, el primer gran día (the first big day).
El primer momento libre = the first free moment
El ganador del tercer lugar = the third place winner
Give it a try
Which ordinal or cardinal numbers do you need to fill in the following blanks? (See the answers at the end of the blog to check your work!)
6. Tengo ______________ (2) animales.
7. Tengo el ______________ (2nd) animal.
8. Hoy es la ______________ (1st) vez.
9. Lo hago solo ______________ (1) vez.
10. Comienza la ______________ (4th) entrada.
We have just learned that ordinal numbers are often adjectives. As you may know, an adjective generally comes after the noun it describes in Spanish. In the case of ordinal numbers, however, they come before the noun unless discussing a member of royalty or the pope.
El sexto libro = the sixth book
Mi primera foto = my first photo
Juan Carlos Primero = Juan Carlos the First, the former king of Spain
San Juan Pablo Segundo = Pope John Paul the Second
Numbers 11 to 100
Ordinal numbers are not ordinarily used after 10, but it is still important to expose yourself to them so that you can recognize them when they do appear. Both 11th and 12th have two acceptable forms, which the chart below shows. While there is, unfortunately, no formula to memorize for all the ordinal numbers after 11, there are a few guidelines we can follow. For numbers 13-19, we use a combination of decimo + ordinal number 3-9, as in decimocuarto (14th). For numbers in between 20-100, we use the ordinal number ending in -gésimo or -agésimo + the unique singular ordinal number 1-9, as in vigésimo primero (21st).
As you view the chart, keep in mind that all of these ordinal numbers can be written together or apart, as in decimoprimero or décimo primero. Additionally, if they describe a feminine noun, their form changes to decimaprimera or décima primera.
Similar to English, Spanish ordinal numbers can be written in long form or using superscriptions. While in English we use “st” “nd” “rd” and “th” as the superscriptions (as in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th), Spanish uses “o” for masculine nouns or “a” for feminine nouns, as in the following examples:
Another way of abbreviating numbers is by using roman numerals, which we read as ordinal numbers. We can use roman numerals with centuries, popes, monarchs, emperors, books, volumes, chapters, and recurring events. Keep in mind that in informal speech, the use of ordinal numbers above 10 is fairly rare. Instead of saying, el quincuagésimo capítulo, one would more likely say el capítulo cincuenta.
Now that you have learned how to use ordinal numbers, be sure to keep practicing them regularly in speech and writing. Be sure to check out our blog on cardinal numbers to refresh your memory or learn new vocabulary! To enhance your language skills, schedule a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy and start speaking Spanish with a native speaker today!
Answers to Give It a Try:
Do you remember the blog about ya where we introduced you to the first of many Spanish words that have multiple meanings? Today, we’ll continue exploring the phenomenon of words that are spelled the same but don’t mean the same thing! We can categorize these words as:
- Polysemic words – words that have one single origin, but when used in different contexts have different meanings.
- Homonyms – two or more words that are spelled the same but don’t have the same linguistic roots; they, therefore, have different meanings.
The difference between these two is that a polysemic word is one single word with two or more meanings that depend on context, while homonyms are two or more words that are spelled the same but mean different things because they don’t have the same etymological background. This means that homonyms are words that are spelled the same by chance, not because they have evolved from the same word.
For all you grammar nerds, Etymology is the study of the origin of words and their evolution throughout history.
We’ll start with our first polysemic word; this one has caused the most trouble to all my English-speaking friends learning Spanish! In Mexico and Guatemala, we use the word ahorita. This is the diminutive form of ahora – we sure love our diminutives! Ahorita is a colloquial expression, which means that we use it in informal speech. There are two reasons why this word causes so much trouble:
- As a part of informal speech, we use it all the time in conversations. So, it’s really easy to misinterpret it as we really use it so often!
- The meanings of ahorita are very contradictory. It can either mean:
- Right now, like right now, now. Right this second.
- Just a little bit ago.
- In a little bit, or anytime between 5 minutes and a couple of hours.
- In an indeterminate amount of time.
In order to understand what the other person means with ahorita, I’ve often needed to ask something like, “Are you leaving the house ahorita as in right this second, or ahorita as in a couple of hours?” I’ve also had friends who live only a 5-minute drive from me tell me they’ll leave their house ahorita, only to come to my house 4 hours later! And once they arrived, I asked them, “Weren’t you leaving ahorita?” To which they would usually reply with something like, “Oh, yeah, I did. I was just finishing something.”
As you can see, the meaning of ahorita greatly varies depending on the context. This can cause a lot of frustration not only for people who are learning about a new language and culture but also to people who speak the language as a mother tongue. Don’t ever feel bad about these misinterpretations! Remember that a language is not always an exact science!
While most of these words are not as confusing as ahorita, it’s important to know them before you encounter them!
Spanish Polysemic Words
As we mentioned before, a polysemic word has one single etymological origin and multiple meanings that vary depending on the context in which we use the word. Let’s have a look at some of these words:
As we mentioned above, homonyms are two or more words that are spelled the same but do not have the same etymological background, so they have various meanings. Let’s look at some of them:
As you can see in all these examples, there are many Spanish words that we spell exactly the same way but that have more than one meaning! We understand what these words mean because of the context in which we’re saying them. If someone said puedes bajar la llama de la estufa, they could mean two different things:
- You can turn the llama down on the stove, or
- You can get the llama off the stove
What is certain is that the person is most likely referring to turning down the flame on the stove, and not telling you to get the fluffy animal off the stove!
Let’s have a look at some more examples! As you will see below, there are times when more than one sentence makes sense. This is why the context is so important! If you’re sitting at a restaurant, you’ll more likely ask for a menu than for a letter or a card. And while a baby is sure mono (cute, lovely, or adorable), he can’t wear a monkey (monkey also means mono in Spanish – the right word here would be onesies).
Me duele la muñeca
- My doll hurts
- My wrist hurts
Me puede traer la carta
- Please, bring me the card
- Please, bring me the letter
- Please, bring me the menu
Me encanta comer falda
- I love to eat foothills
- I love to eat skirts
- I love to eat brisket
Mis plantas están verdes
- My plants are green
- My factories are green
- My soles are green
Las carpas son de agua dulce
- Tents live in freshwater
- Carps live in freshwater
El mono le queda muy bien al bebé
- The monkey fits the baby well
- The cute one fits the baby well
- Onesies fit the baby well
If you have any questions regarding the use of any words, remember that you can always schedule a FREE class with us and we’ll help you solve any doubts!
Follow along with our PDF!
In English, whenever you are happy, at home, or cold, you use the verb to be (am, are, is) to refer to all three things. However, in Spanish you say estoy feliz (or in some cases soy feliz), estoy en la casa, and tengo frío! There are three different verbs for the equivalent English verb ‘to be.’ Today, we will discuss when it is most appropriate to use each verb! If you’d like to learn more about how to express your feelings in Spanish, go have a look at our feelings blog!
Ser vs. Estar
Although they express something similar (the characteristics of a person or thing), estar and ser convey distinct ideas. Pointing out this difference to an English speaker, or a speaker of any language that doesn’t differentiate between these ideas, is a little complicated. Since we use only one word to refer to both concepts, you’ll have to create an approach in your mind and learn how it works. As said above, don’t worry: the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it!
Ser expresses the attributes of a person or thing. When you use ser, you’re talking about characteristics that are a part of the essence of a person or thing: something unchangeable.
Since ser helps us express the characteristics of a person or thing, what comes after the verb is an adjective! The structure for these sentences is ser + adjective:
Another way you can remember when to use the verb ser is to completely get rid of the verb and see how the adjective matches your noun. Adding the verb ser turns this phrase into a sentence*:
*Sentences are grammatical units that include a subject (a person or thing) and a predicate (which includes a verb and whatever follows) and help us express a complete idea. On the other hand, phrases are a set of words that form part of a sentence or clause.
Think of estar as a status or condition. Estar expresses how a person or thing exists, finds itself in a place or situation, how it feels, or how it remains with stability in a place, situation or condition.
As you can see, estar refers to something that can change and that doesn’t belong to the nature of the person or thing.
Estar can help you say how you’re feeling, express a place that you’re at, or something that you’re currently doing. When forming sentences with estar, you want to use the following structures:
*Gerund: in Spanish, the gerund (verb with -ando and -iendo endings) helps us describe a continuous action that started taking place before we mentioned it and that is still taking place as we talk about it. The equivalent of this in English is the Present Continuous Tense that we form with the verb to be + another verb with the -ing ending.
Ser vs Estar Examples
Conjugation of Ser and Estar
Now that you know when you should use each verb, let’s have a look at the conjugation since they are both irregular verbs (estar only varies on the first person singular – the rest of its conjugation is regular):
Tener means to have, to own, or to possess. This verb may be a little easier to understand because it is a verb that exists in English. We can use tener to express something that we physically possess or a way we feel at a certain point in time – a feeling or need we “have.”
As we learned in our blog about expressing the way we feel, we can use tener (to have) to express needs or emotions at a specific point in time.
The construction for this is tener + a noun. Let’s have a look at some examples and what a literal translation would look like:
Tener is, like estar and ser, an irregular verb. You need to keep that in mind when building sentences with it:
Like we reviewed in our common mistakes blog, there are some things you need to keep in mind to make your Spanish even better. When it comes to expressing the way we feel, make sure you remember this list:
- Tengo calor: while in English you say ‘I’m hot’, in Spanish you say ‘I have heat’ (I experience heat). Saying ‘estoy caliente’ or ‘soy caliente’ means that you are aroused by something, so you really want to avoid making this common mistake and having people look at you funny.
- Tengo frío: in Spanish we say that we ‘have cold’ (we experience cold). To properly that that you’re cold, you need to say tengo frío. To say estoy frío or soy frío me means that you’re a cold person – a person who doesn’t show their feelings.
- Estoy mal vs. soy malo
- Estoy mal: since we’re using the verb estar, we’re referring to a condition that is not a part of the character of a person. In this case, estoy mal means that you feel physically sick or that you’re upset about something.
- Soy malo: ser expresses qualities about a person or thing that are part of them and therefore unchangeable. If we say soy malo, we’re saying that we’re a bad person, not that we’re feeling unwell. Another thing to keep in mind here is that if you want to say that you’re ‘bad at something’ like I am at playing soccer, you say soy malo para el fútbol. We use ser in this case because not being able to play soccer well is a part of me that’s not going to change because I’m not interested in soccer.
- Estoy bien vs. soy bueno: estoy bien and soy bueno work the same way as estoy mal and soy malo.
- Estoy bien: we’re using estar so we refer to a condition that we’re currently at. When you say estoy bien, it can either been that you’re physically or psychologically fine.
- Soy bueno: since we’re using ser, we’re talking about a part of our character. We’re saying that we’re a good person. Like with soy malo, if we want to say that we’re good at something – at something being the keyword here – we say soy bueno para jugar ajedrez (I’m good at playing chess). This means that being good at playing chess is a part of our skills.
I know this is a lot to take in, and the best way to learn all this is by practicing and practicing! Why don’t you jump into a FREE class with us so that you can practice even more with one of our teachers!
Continue practicing with our handy-dandy PDF!
Unless you’re homeschooling your child, you don’t have much say in what curricula teachers use in your kid’s classes. Are the curricula designed to help your student succeed? Are they teaching what your student actually needs to learn? Now, if you homeschool, you do get to choose what program and books you use to instruct your child. However, how do you know which curriculum is the best?
There are so many questions that come up about curricula, especially when you are looking to have your child learn a foreign language. Most parents don’t speak the language their child wants to learn, and even if they do, they might not know how to best teach it. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with all the curricula options, we are here to help take one subject off your plate – Spanish.
If you’re still on the fence about what language to teach your child, check out our blog that explores why Spanish is the best foreign language to learn in our increasingly connected world.
How is our Spanish Curriculum different?
You want the best for your child. However, what makes a Spanish curriculum the best course for your child?
First, we need to talk about how you learn a language. It is not just memorizing words and phrases; learning a language is learning a new way to think, express yourself, and look at the world. To gain that knowledge, you need exposure and repetition. If you have kids, think about how they learned to talk – did you teach them a list of words and have them memorize it? Did you expect them to be fluent in a year? Were they able to speak immediately?
The best way to learn a language is as close as possible to the way we naturally learned our native tongue. This means lots of exposure and relating vocabulary to images or objects – NOT relating them to the English words.
Think of it this way – if you always relate a new Spanish word to its English equivalent, when you go to have a conversation, you will constantly be thinking of your answer in English, then taking time to translate it to Spanish. It’s hard and time-consuming! You would be better off creating new relationships between the Spanish words and the objects or ideas. One easy way to do this is by labeling things in your house with the Spanish word (check out more ideas here).
So, that’s great in theory, but how can it be applied to Spanish classes? Well, here at the Spanish Academy, we have developed our own curricula that our native-speaking teachers use in each class. The curriculum utilizes images to relate each new vocabulary word and phrase to a real-life situation. Many of our teachers also use physical objects in class and encourage their students to as well. This combination of images in the curriculum and physical objects in the virtual classroom help the students avoid translation and directly create relationships between the Spanish word and the object.
Levels of Fluency
When your child first started learning their native tongue, did they immediately start talking? No, of course not! There are multiple areas of language learning and fluency. A child first learns to understand a language before learning to respond. As we said before, we want to teach Spanish in a similar way to how we naturally learn a language. Therefore, the first step towards fluency is exposure and auditory comprehension.
All our teachers are native Spanish speakers, and they make conversation a priority in each class. While your student may not be able to reproduce the teacher’s questions and comments or respond to them right away, they are developing auditory comprehension, just as they did as a baby learning their first language. If your student is able to read and write, our curricula also combine this auditory comprehension with written practice, so your student grows in all areas of language learning – reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
How many times did you have to teach your child the colors before they could remember them all? Did they remember everything the first time? Of course not! When learning a new language, we are actually building new pathways in our brain, which takes time and dedication – or repetition. A lot of other curricula, especially the ones used in school settings, move too fast and don’t take the time to reinforce learn vocabulary.
The Spanish Academy curricula apply learned vocabulary in the following classes to make sure your student remembers what they learned and can actually use it. Furthermore, the teacher always starts the class with some quick conversation and pointed questions to review and reinforce previous lessons. Instead of learning one topic and moving on, our curricula builds upon itself, deepening those pathways in your brain until speaking Spanish becomes second nature.
One size does NOT fit all
While finding pieces of clothing that are ‘one size fits all’ is great because there’s no hassle of finding the perfect size for you, that thought process cannot be used when learning a language. As a child grows up, they learn differently, and their Spanish curriculum must reflect that. That is why we have all the following programs:
- Preschool Curriculum
- Elementary Curriculum
- Middle School Curriculum
- High School Curriculum
- Adult Curriculum
Each program is specifically designed with the student’s age in mind. For example, the middle school years are a time of preparation and transition, and our curriculum takes that into mind – while addressing Spanish grammar topics head-on like the high school curriculum, it still goes at a slower pace to make sure they are truly learning. It’s like an introduction to a high school level course, which is what those middle school years are all about.
Creating the Perfect Curriculum for Your Child
While we offer different courses for each age level, every child is unique and may need something tailored specifically to their learning needs. You don’t usually get the opportunity to adjust courses in many classroom settings, but our curriculum can be altered as needed. If your student needs to just review certain parts of a curriculum because they have already mastered some topics, our teachers can start them right at the appropriate lesson, so they aren’t bored with the classes. On the other hand, if your student needs more time to review a tricky topic, our teachers take the time to get extra review materials and make sure they master each lesson.
All of our Spanish curricula have homework, quizzes, and tests built into the programs, but you can opt out of those and do a freestyle course of study. Keep in mind that if you are looking for high school credit, your student will need to comply with all parts of the curriculum. For any other course, however, the assessments can be optional.
Some students would like to focus more on conversational Spanish, while others already speak fluently but need help with their written Spanish. Either way, our teachers can accommodate and adjust the curriculum for your student’s needs.
Additionally, we have worked with numerous students that have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and ADHD. Just let your teacher know and they will accommodate accordingly. We are here to make learning Spanish easy for your child!
High School Courses
So many world language courses don’t offer options for high schoolers – they focus more on younger kids and avoid high school classes because of the strict standards required for high school Spanish. However, the Spanish Academy offers Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III, and Spanish IV for the high schoolers. The classes include graded homework (10%), quizzes (40%), and tests (50%), and we can provide a transcript for each completed semester.
These classes are perfect for if your student needs high school credit for Spanish, if they struggled in school and need reinforcement, or if they are looking to get a head start on their high school credits. We have received numerous testimonials about how our unique high school curriculum has helped students succeed in high school and be well-prepared for college classes. Download a sample here!
Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”– Kim Collins
Here at the Spanish Academy, we want to be constantly improving our classes. For that reason, we are making some exciting changes to our curriculum. The flexibility and teaching methods will be the same, but we will be bringing you a lot more content, with some extra special products for all you parents!
One important change will be our alignment with the ACTFL standards and level system. You will be able to see what fluency level your student is at and what they need to work on at each level. This will give you a better idea of how soon they will reach their Spanish fluency goal and how you can help get them there.
Stay tuned for the coming changes and sign up for a FREE class in the meantime!Read More
How old are you? How many siblings do you have? How long have you been learning Spanish? These are just a few of the questions that you can answer with numbers! Los números help us quantify and categorize things or experiences in our lives. They are so important that they are essential for almost every area of human society, including economics, science, and many social interactions. Number awareness in Spanish will let you set a coffee date with a friend, barter down the price of goods at an outdoor market, and understand how many spots are left on the bus for travel. Let’s take a look at how to comprehend, construct, and pronounce numbers in Spanish! Then we’ll get into the games and learning activities we can use to memorize what we’ve learned. ¡Aprendamos a contar!
Types of Numbers in Spanish
Cardinal vs. Ordinal
Cardinal numbers are the simple, original form of a number: 1, 2, 3, etc. This is in contrast to ordinal numbers, which are 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. As we begin our journey of number awareness, it’s important to start with cardinal numbers so that they can serve as the base for learning ordinal numbers later. Keep in mind that Spanish speakers use cardinal instead of ordinal numbers when talking about la fecha, or the calendar date. They add “de + month” after the cardinal number. An example is: veinte de julio (July 20).
Here we have a chart with numbers 0-20 in Spanish:
Spelling numbers in Spanish is easy once you understand certain patterns. If you remember, numbers 16-19 have a distinct pattern where they all begin with “dieci”. These numbers were originally written diez y seis, diez y siete, etc. and have since changed their spelling. In a similar fashion, the spelling for numbers 21 through 29 has changed. It is not uncommon to see these numbers written as veinte y uno, veinte y dos, etc. However, according to the Real Academia Española, this is no longer an acceptable form of spelling. The form we must learn combines the two numbers and changes the ‘y’ to an ‘i’. In order to move the emphasis to the last syllable, there is an acute accent mark on veintidós, veintitrés, and veintiséis.
How to Build Bigger Numbers
Numbers begin to build on each other after 15. You will see that deiciséis through diecinueve are a combination of diez + y + number. This was, in fact, how they were all originally spelled. This construction is currently used for numbers from treinta y uno (31) to noventa y nueve (99). By combining the number in the tens place (30, 40, 50, etc.) with the number in the ones place (1, 2, 3, etc.) and placing y in between, we form the following numbers:
Now, when we reach 100, we say cien, but any number between 101-199 uses ciento. Except for 500 (which is quinientos), numbers 200 and higher use cientos in plural form. These bigger numbers are a combination of the whole hundred + cientos + number. For example, doscientos diez (210), trescientos once (311), etc. This is different from mil, which is 1,000, where it does not add an -s for dos mil (2,000) and higher. Whew, what a mouthful! This can be tricky at first, but with plenty of practice, it will seem natural. Additionally, take notice of the spelling differences in the number (700) setecientos and (900) novecientos. Here is a chart of some of the bigger numbers:
Gender in Numbers
When we list Spanish numbers in their original form, they are generally gender-neutral. However, the whole hundreds in the numbers 200 through 900 change to feminine when they quantify a feminine noun, by changing -cientos into -cientas. In addition, numbers that end in -uno undergo a spelling change in certain conditions. If the number proceeds a masculine noun, such as 21 cats, the number 21 is written as veintiún gatos. However, if the number proceeds a feminine noun that begins with the letter a, such as 31 eagles, the number is most commonly written in masculine form: treinta y un águilas. Learn more about that here. When a number like 41 precedes a feminine noun that doesn’t start with an a, then the ending is -una: cuarenta y una manzanas.
To make the most of learning about numbers, we have to be able to pronounce them correctly! Check out our video to get you started on perfecting your pronunciation! Test yourself on some of the more difficult numbers that are similar in pronunciation and sometimes confused with one another!
Games and Activities
The best way to retain any new information is to play games, of course! Engage your senses and skillsets with some of these fun ideas:
- Bingo is a popular game and is especially helpful when trying to tune those listening skills. If providing for a bigger group of learners, you can print out blank Bingo cards, pass them out for students to fill in numbers in their numerical form, and you can call out numbers 1-100 at random. If you would like a pre-made set of 4 Bingo Cards and a Spanish Numbers Calling Sheet, feel free to use our free gift to you! (Find the link at the end of this blog!) It’s fun for the whole family and keeps learners excited.
- Catch and Count is a ball game that requires at least 2 players. Everyone stands in a circle and chooses the numbers they will be counting (from 1-50 or 1-100, for example). The person holding the ball says the first number then tosses it to someone else who must say the next number in the sequence. The group tosses the ball around until they reach the maximum number. If someone messes up, they have to start all over again!
- Uno is an obvious game to play to practice numbers, especially because of its name! While playing this family favorite, make sure to require that all players say the numbers in Spanish before they play them. Each player can say their number by using the phrase, “Yo tengo el número _____.”
Spanish Number Sense
Now that you’ve learned your numbers in Spanish, you can practice using them with friends, family, or in the classroom. Expand your knowledge by taking online classes with Homeschool Spanish Academy where you will learn how to have conversations using numbers! Your journey into Spanish learning is well on its way now. Keep up the good work and stay inspired with our other blogs!
Keep practicing with our Bingo game!Read More
Get ready and put on your wetsuit because today we’re going to dive into the deep ocean of Spanish idioms and explore the colorfulness of the language. Just like with English, we use idioms all the time in Spanish, which makes them so important to learn!
But first, what is an idiom? According to Meriam Webster, an idiom is “an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (such as no, it wasn’t me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (such as ride herd on for “supervise”).”
Just so that you know exactly what we’re looking at today, here’s a list:
- Idioms in Spanish
- The literal translation into English so you can see how important it is to keep in mind that language is a lot more than just a translation of words. It is a common mistake to translate idioms word for word, so try to avoid that!
- The actual meaning in English
- An example of each one so you can learn when to use them!
Some idioms have an equivalent in English, while others don’t.
We’ll start with my all-time favorite idiom because I’m an avid cat lover, who is unfortunately allergic to cats. Oh, the ironies of life! Maybe it’s something good; otherwise, my house would be filled with cute, furry little creatures!
Isn’t this awesome? You’ve just learned 20 new idioms in Spanish that will help you communicate even better! Now book a FREE class with us so you can practice them and learn even more!